What To Do When Kids Ask the Hard Questions

How could God have existed forever?

Why did God let them die?

If God is powerful, why did He let that happen?

Why didn't God help grandmother get better when we prayed?

How do we know God is real?

How do we know the Bible is God's Word?

My teacher said we are here because of evolution.  Is she right?

If God loves people, why would He send them to hell?

Why is Jesus the only way to heaven?

What about people in other countries who believe in a different god?

These are the type of hard questions that kids (and adults) ask at times.  They are legitimate questions and should be addressed if we want kids to have a strong faith foundation.  Recent studies show that 78% of adults who claim no religion, actually grew up in church.  In many cases, they asked the hard questions, but no one answered them.  Or if they did try to answer, they didn't provide a satisfactory, substantial response. Or they may have wanted to ask the hard questions, but didn't feel they had a safe place to voice them.

We must be prepared when kids ask the hard questions.  Here's some tips on what to do.

Don't overreact.   Many people are caught off guard when kids ask the hard questions.  They don't know what to do and so they respond with anger, frustration or surprise.  This leaves kids feeling like they've done something wrong or that they don't truly love Jesus.  How we initially respond will set the tone for the discussion.  Which leads to the next step.

Commend them.   Let the child know you are proud of him or her for asking the hard questions.  The fact that the child is trying to understand these deeper aspects of faith is commendable.  Let the child know asking the hard questions is a natural part of the faith journey.  Remind them that even Jesus asked why God had forsaken Him when He was on the cross.   

Help them grapple with the questions and find the answers together.  This is a great discipleship opportunity to help kids dig in and find the answers for why they believe what they believe.  Take their questions and grapple with them to find the answers.  You want kids to find the correct answers now rather than waiting until they are sitting in a college classroom or dorm where they may get wrong answers that shake their faith.

Be okay with saying "I don't know" when you don't know.  Some questions are so deep, even the ones coming from a child, that you won't know how to respond when the child first asks them.  Rather than giving a quick, cliche' answer, be honest.  Let the child know that it's a tough question that you don't have an easy answer to, but you will journey with them to find an answer.  This will help the child see the authenticity of your faith as you walk alongside them in seeking the truth. 
Deep faith is not built upon cliche' answers, but on the sincere seeking of truth. 
Consider initiating the hard questions.  In the days in which we live, I believe we can't wait for kids to ask us the hard questions.  I believe we should initiate discussions that cause kids to grapple through the hard questions.  We must not shy away from the difficult questions of Christianity, but boldly walk with kids through them.  If the first time they face these questions is in a high school hallway, it may be too late.  If they can work through these questions while they are young, it will give them a solid foundation to build their faith on.

This is one reason I created the Pranksters series.  I wanted kids to work through the difficult questions about the Bible...even to the point of walking them through Scriptures that seem to contradict each other.

I am reminded of what 1 Peter 3:15 says...
but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,
We must prepare kids by helping them find the answers to the hard questions they will face as they grow up.  If we do not, their faith will wilt away under the pressure of a culture that does not believe in absolute truth.

We must also equip parents to answer the hard questions.  Many times, kids will ask their parents the hard questions first and they will not know how to respond.  They will come to you for help.  Again, take the initiative and prepare parents in advance with the tools they need to have these discussions with their children.

Are you preparing the kids in your ministry to answer the hard questions?