March 2, 2012 PhilBell

How To Answer Teenagers Tough Questions

This week I announced a new book that I have written in collaboration with some brilliant minds in youth ministry. Answers To Teenagers’ 50 Toughest Questions is a rapid fire response manual for youth workers who are in need of solid biblical answer to present students.

When I began the project, I surveyed hundreds of youth workers all over the country and gathered over 250 common questions that they have been asked or have struggled to answer. From that list we got down to the top 50 most challenging questions. Since we couldn’t cover every tough question out there, it’s important to realize that there is a healthy process to learn when it comes to answering challenging questions. There are many challenging questions that students ask us, but there is a healthy process that every youth worker can walk through when helping their students: 

YOU DON’T NEED TO KNOW IT ALL: It’s OK to admit to students that you need time to research or pray through an answer. Students don’t expect you to know everything, so don’t expect this for yourself!

WORK THROUGH THE ANSWER WITH YOUR STUDENT:  Give them some of the “work” and help them own the answer more effectively. When students go through a process of digging for the answer, it will more likely stick with them.

BECOME AN EXPERT IN RESOURCES: You might not know all the answers, but you should work hard to know where to find them.  Sites like www.gotquestions.org and Answers to Teenagers Toughest Questions, from Simply Youth Ministry are great resources!

GET HELP! YOU’RE NOT ALONE!

– Use your youth pastor for questions that are well over your head.

– Involve the youth pastor for kids who give you info about abuse or if someone is in danger. (Know your mandated reporting policies).

– Involve the parents. Depending on the question that is asked, I believe it is crucial to get parents to continue the navigation process with their student. Parents can handle follow up questions as they happen. Remember, our job is not to replace mom and dad, but to partner with them…

START LOOKING AT QUESTIONS THROUGH A DIFFERENT LENS: Don’t see questions as detrimental doubting, see questions as an opportunity for students to develop a deeper faith. (The autonomous independent thinking student needs to struggle through the tough question in order to have grow deeper)

What would you add to this list? What tip is the most helpful one for you? 

Phil <><

About the Author

PhilBell Phil Bell is a Family Ministry pastor with over 15 years of experience ministering to families. He holds a Masters in Christian Ministry and is a national speaker, columnist, author, and blogger. He’s passionate about investing in families and equipping parents to reach the next generation for Christ. He’s originally from England and now lives in Raleigh, NC, with his wife Lisa and their three beautiful kids.