Today at the Simply Youth Ministry Conference I am leading a peer panel on how to answer teenagers toughest questions. Here are some guidelines and ideas I am providing for people in the peer panel. They might also be useful to you too?
When answering teenagers questions here few things to consider:
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!
EXPECT QUESTIONS FROM TEENAGERS! This is the time in their lives when they reconstructing and putting together a whole new world in their brains. Students are beginning to think abstractly and see things in a whole new way… Questions are your friend since they can become the pathway to students processing and eventually owning the truth. Questioning is not a bad thing, it’s part of their brain development! We have an incredible opportunity to come alongside them as they deal with some of their greatest felt needs… So, expect and embrace questions!
WHAT BIBLICAL TRUTH CAN YOU DRAW FROM? Students are getting enough poor information from search engines and well intentioned friends. God’s Truth is the best starting point we can give them…
WHAT OUTSIDE ISSUE COULD BE IMPACTING YOUR STUDENT? In other words, what is the context? Understanding the context is often the doorway into finding out their specific issue or need. Context will allow us to tailor a better answer with them…
WHO NEEDS TO BE INVOLVED IN THE QUESTION? If you are volunteer, have you spoken to your youth pastor or pastor? Do the parents need to know? Do you need to report this to an official? Or, are there ‘experts’ in your church who can help you with a particular question?
BECOME AN EXPERT IN RESOURCES: You might not know all the answers, but you should work hard to know where to find them. There are many youth ministry resource companies who can help you.
GET THEM TO PROCESS THROUGH THE ANSWER: 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. When we can get them to do the work and begin to verbalize what they are learning, they are more likely to own what they have learned. A messy journey alongside a student as we help them discover and process an answer is far better than a well-crafted answer from you and I.
What would you add to this list? What tip is the most helpful one for you?