Never underestimate the power of great thinking questions.
I recently read a news article about Christian apologist Josh McDowell and his son, Sean. In it, the two were talking about how they want their children to take ownership of their faith and not just believe only because that’s what their parents believe.
One of the best ways for parents to help kids grow in their faith is by answering questions with questions.
Of course we’re not saying that kids get to decide what truth is, Jesus is the truth (John 14:6). It’s still up to parents to help kids understand the truth of the Bible. We’re talking about growing in faith and applying God’s truth in our lives.
“A question is always better than an answer,” Sean McDowell says. “Why? Jesus asked a ton of questions when he knew the answer…[Jesus] wanted to elicit faith and it builds a relationship and gives you insight into what somebody is thinking.”
When a parent asks more questions, instead of answering their child’s questions it opens a dialogue with the child. And by the end of the dialogue kids have more convictions over what they believe and take ownership of their faith.
Relationships and great questions go hand-in-hand. Here are some tips for you to get started asking great questions with your kids.
- When reading the Bible or after church. Review questions are great, but instead of right/wrong questions, ask questions that start with “What could you do…” or “What if…” or “Why do you think…” These sorts of questions will get kids thinking and discussions started. Remember, you don’t have to think of a “correct” answer to your questions. If something comes up that needs addressing, dig into the Bible, or ask Pastor Oren.
- After school or a social event. Great questions during this time might not even need a question mark. Have kids tell you about their day and what they experienced. You can tie in recent Bible messages as well. Say, for example, your kids are learning about loving others. You can ask, “Tell me about bullies in your school.” Follow it up with a discussion on loving those who are hard to love, and you got yourself some great car-time discussions.
- When kids have questions. Going back to what Sean McDowell was saying, a question is always better than an answer. Any time you can get kids to think about their faith is a major win. Here’s an example from Sean McDowell’s life. A parent once asked him how to respond to her daughter’s question, “does God love Osama Bin Laden?” His response… “Oh, that’s easy,” he told her, “you say, ‘what do you think?'”
Jesus is the ultimate teacher. Again, recall how many times Jesus responded with questions. Here are some examples:
Matthew 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Matthew 9:5 For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?
Matthew 12:48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
Jesus didn’t ask questions to gain knowledge or to find out what others were thinking. Jesus wanted those around Him to think. We can learn from the master teacher and incorporate great questions into our family time. Take time to ask your kids some questions today. You’ll be glad you did.