Have you ever spent any amount of time with a 4-5 year old? I remember a few years back spending a good chunk of time with a wonderful family whose son was 5 at the time. One of the things that you would hear approximately every 10 seconds was “why daddy?” It was quite cute because the wee fella was from Northern Ireland so you can imagine the accent that goes with it. He was in the middle of the phase that most children go through of wanting to understand things and so he constantly asked questions.
But fast forward a few years and children, generally speaking, stop asking why.
I think that this is a huge problem for Christians today, because Christians do the same thing. When a person first becomes a Christian they soak up information and ask hundreds of questions, but after a few years many Christians stop asking questions. When we don’t address the doubts or questions that people have regarding Christianity, we can leave them with the impression that it is all faith and no answers. As a result, many Christians have questions but don’t feel able or comfortable sharing them.
Questions can revolve around the Bible, church, science, life and culture, the list is never ending. We should encourage people to question things because 1) it shows that Christianity is not without evidence; and 2) because questions can stop people going off the rails by teaching things that aren’t true.
One of the things that I have enjoyed doing, with both teenagers and older Christians, is letting them ask all of the questions they want. Our small group is renown for tangents because we ask so many questions about the Bible, Christianity and church.
When you’re asked a question it is OK for you to say “I don’t know”. Nobody can know everything, saying that we need to go and research a questions helps people see that we are human and that we are always learning.
Questions are a wonderful thing that help 1) the asker grow in their knowledge and understanding, and 2) for the answerer because questions keep us on our toes.
Imagine if we let the teenagers in the church ask all of their difficult questions, wrestle with Christianity and culture and find the answers they are looking for or at least think through some kind of answer. How different would the church be in 15-20 years?!?
Don’t get me wrong there are questions that we just won’t know the answer to, but should that be our staple response? No! I love to see Christians and non-Christians asking questions about God and Christianity because it tells me that they aren’t just happy with the unknown.
But there is also a danger in that people ask questions just to pick a fight, to show someone up or to shout about their own intelligence. However, the majority of people sitting in the pews of our churches have so many questions, and they don’t know who to turn to or where to start. There are so many Christians who wrestle to understand the Bible but would hugely benefit from a helping hand to ask or answer those difficult questions that will make them dig that wee bit deeper.
Help create a culture in your church, in your family and in your own life where you ask questions. You’ll see that people become more open and relaxed, more engaged, more talkative and more willing to be vulnerable about their struggles and doubts.
If we helped people with questions we would see a church that grows in the four loves: love for the Lord, love for His Word, love for His people and love for the Lost.
That’s the kind of church that the world needs, a church that isn’t satisfied with a ‘face value’ understanding of Christianity and the world, but a church and Christians that tackle the big question in life. Christianity gets people to ask questions of themselves and how they stand before God, but it also leads people to some of the answers of the big questions that they have; What is life all about? Why am I here?
Imagine if you took a hungry man to banquet and he dived at the stack of used plates and leftovers because he’s famished. Instead of letting him pick the leftovers off the plates, you’d point him to the head of the banquet table to the big prize winning banquet and say “enjoy” wouldn’t you?
So then, why are we happy to let spiritually hungry people feed on small amounts when the banquet of the Word of God is at their fingertips?
Creating a culture of questions in a group of people is easy, it just takes you to make the first move. Ask that question, speak to the preacher to understand that aspect of his sermon and wrestle with the difficult topics that others run away from. The future generation will thank our for encouraging them in their faith. The generation after that will thank you for training spiritually mature and discerning people; and your own walk with the Lord will be spurred on and challenged as you search for answers to difficult questions.
Keep going, keep asking and keep growing.