Here's an update on what we're learning this week at Root Student Ministries. The series is called Amplify, and we're discussing the reality of doubt amidst our faith. Below is a great article for parents from Orange, who writes the curriculum we often use. Please note that I did not write this myself! I am not bold or arrogant enough to think I could offer any parenting tips of my own. Take a minute to read!
We’re Teaching This:
Can God hear me? Does God even exist? Did Jesus actually rise from the dead, really? And what about all the other stuff in the Bible? Did it really happen? How do you know? When it comes to faith, we all have our doubts. Every single one of us. And yet, for many of us, church can feel like the last place we would go to ask questions. Why is that? For most of us, doubt feels like something we should hide, ignore, or silence. If there’s a volume dial, we should turn it down. But is that always true? Does having faith mean I can’t have doubt or does having doubt cancel out the faith I do have? When we look closer we find that amplifying our doubt, turning up the volume on the right questions, may just be the best thing that ever happened to our faith.
Think About This:
Why do we have belly buttons? Why does the lawn mower make that funny noise? Why do I have to take a bath? Every young kid goes through that stage. The one where it seems there is a question about everything. At the time it made us crazy, but if we’re honest, a lot of us wouldn’t mind going back to those types of questions. At least those had easier answers.
As our kids grow into teens, the questions may be fewer but they become way more complicated. It’s harder for us, but completely normal for them—part of maturing is asking questions and pushing back on what has been taught. Especially in the area of faith, this can be really healthy. But, tough questions about faith can leave parents feeling a lot of pressure to have all the answers right now.
Thankfully, in his article, “I Doubt it”, Reggie Joiner suggests that maybe having all the answers isn’t the best approach. “Relax when your children ask skeptical questions. … If you want your children to own their own faith, then you have to let them face their own doubts.”
In other words, letting our students face their doubt doesn’t mean we ignore their more challenging questions, but instead we hear them, and refuse to panic when we do. This alone can go a long way in teaching teens that having doubt is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes just saying, “I don’t know” or “let’s find out together” can be the best response to a tough question.
Reggie goes on to remind parents that doubt is part of a long journey.
You may have a primary role in shaping your kid’s faith, but you will never be able to control what they believe or don’t believe. If you could simply talk your kids into believing what you believe, then chances are someone else will talk them out of it one day. The spiritual growth of your children will take a number of twists and turns during their life. Most of us tend to forget the complicated spiritual journey that has shaped our faith. We expect our kids to skip that somehow. (from http://www.orangeparents.org/i-doubt-it/)
Most students don’t need a parent who has all the answers, but they do need an example of how to live out your faith even when you still have doubts. They need a model of healthy curiosity—the kind that doesn’t give up just because tough questions arise.
Next time a question or a doubt arises in your mind, try mentioning it to your student. It doesn’t have to be very serious or formal. You can begin this way: