…You Don’t Know The Answer?

Students ask lots of questions.  I’ve had college aged students not know who Israel is, and I’ve had sixth graders ask about “Apostolic Dispensationalism.”  If you’re involved in ministry at any level, you’ll get easy questions (“What’s Israel?”) and you’ll get off the wall questions (“Do you believe in apostolic dispensationalism?”).

The good news is that you’re a small group leader because you love the Lord and you love students, not because you’re expected to be a walking Bible Commentary.  Here are three things to do WHEN a student asks a question and you don’t know the answer!

1. Affirm them.  Make sure they know that asking questions is a good thing.  As leaders, the last thing we want to do is to make our students feel like questions are bad.  Often times, students are afraid to ask questions becaue they’re afraid of looking stupid, afraid questions are bad, and don’t know what to do about their doubts or curiosities.  I would hate to be the reason a student stops asking questions.

2. Be honest.  If they ask a question and you don’t know what to say, the last thing we want to do is to make up an answer, or give it a good guess.  Let them know you’re in the same boat they are.

3. Tell them you’ll try and get them an answer by next meeting.  And do.  Don’t make empty promises or flippant commitments.  If you tell them you will find out, make sure you remember.  Even if you know the students may forget within the next fifteen minutes, make a note to find the answer.

Here’s an example of how I would respond as a small group leader in my ministry if a student asked a question and I wasn’t sure how to respond:

You know what, that’s an awesome question.  I think it’s great that you asked.  Too often, Christians are afraid to ask questions because we don’t want people looking down on us, but you know what?  A lot of the time, it’s a question that other people are curious about as well.  Here’s the deal though…I don’t know the answer.  I could tell you the answer was “Green”, but that doesn’t even make sense.  Instead of just making something up, I tell you what, let’s find out the answer.  I’ll talk to Austin and see what he says, and he and I will figure it out.  That way, I’m not just making stuff up and giving you bad info.  So, great question, I’m going to write it down to ask.  And sometime this week, shoot me a text and remind me to follow up on it, deal?  Good job, thanks again for asking, that’s what this group is all about.  If we don’t ask questions, it makes growing really hard!

This post is part of an ongoing “What if…” series, addressing youth ministry questions typically within the context of small groups.  

“Prayer of Salvation” With Teens

Right now, I’m wrapping up a project I’ve been working on for the past three or four months. I’m putting together a resource for my adult volunteers that will hopefully be their cheat sheet for ministry when they serve with FSM. It’s got our ministry purpose, their expectations, their goals, FSM’s schedule, random thoughts, and all sorts of things. One section that is included is a “What if” section (big shout out to Elle Campbell for the idea) where our adults can turn to if they’re in a situation they’re not sure how to handle. A small group leader suggested that we have a page on “What if a student wants to pray for salvation?”

I’d never thought about including that, but I’m SO glad he did! I felt like this was important enough that I wanted to share this section from the upcoming resource. This assumes a basic knowledge on the part of the reader, and isn’t a “magic potion prayer” or an all-inclusive guide. It’s more of a starting point for our leaders to refresh their mind on some key points.