Questions > Answers
“I pray to the God within me that He will give me the strength to ask Him the right questions.”
— Elie Wiesel (Night)
Elie Wiesel begins his book Night by recalling a childhood mentor who told him that it is more important to have right questions than the right answers. Having already spent countless hours in church, my children have become great at parroting back the right answers. Do they really understand the answers that they are recalling from their memory? At their young age it isn’t as important that they know the depth and reasons for their answers yet. But we can begin to challenge them to think.
Too often in youth ministry we tell students WHAT to think instead of HOW to think. Then we wonder what happens when they go to college and are challenged on their answers. They fall apart because they don’t know how to think and come to their own conclusions. Why do we concentrate so much on telling students what to think? Because it is easier to create robots who can repeat back what you just said. We need to challenge students to go to a higher level of knowledge.
I love the movie Dead Poet’s Society because it is all about training students to think for themselves. The movie portrays very well the fear that is inside some who think that training students to think will lead them astray. If we truly believe in what we believe why are we afraid that training students how to think will lead them away from the Truth? One unforgettable moment is when Mr. Keating stands on his desk and exclaims, “I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”
Our youth ministries should be a place where students can question the beliefs that they were brought up with. We need to stand up on the desks and view our beliefs from a different angle. Together we can dialogue and hash it out in a loving, caring community where no question is out of bounds. This will strengthen and solidify the beliefs of our students. Kurt Johnston, the Junior High Pastor at Saddleback Church once described children’s ministry as putting beliefs and practices in the mental suitcase of child. Then he described student ministry as dumping out that suitcase and helping the student decide what goes into their suitcase.
How are we teaching students HOW to think in our youth ministry? How are we creating an environment where they feel safe asking the right questions?