Answering Children's Questions About God and Christianity
Has your child ever asked a question about God or Christianity that you have felt unprepared to answer? If so, you are not alone.
I remember feeling panic the first time a student asked, Why do bad things happen to good people? I wasn’t sure how to respond or give an answer that was both theologically-sound and kid-friendly.
However, as the year progressed, I slowly became more and more comfortable with kids asking me challenging questions. Below is a summary of how I direct others to properly answer kids questions about God and Christianity. If you would like a more in-depth answer, you can register to watch the recorded webinar I led on this topic.
Cultivate An Environment That Welcomes Questions
The first step we must take is to cultivate an environment that welcomes questions.
Some kids are comfortable asking deep questions, while many others are not. If such questions do not surface in our homes, schools, and churches, we can be sure they will surface elsewhere.
However, the people present to answer those questions, may not point our children toward the truth. So, we want to make sure we pave the way for every child in our care to ask deep and difficult questions.
Genuinely Pursue Their Hearts To Cultivate Trust
One way to cultivate an environment that welcomes questions is to intentionally pursue our kids hearts.
This may sound counter-intuitive. However, we cannot expect our kids to have the confidence to be vulnerable with their thoughts if we have not faithfully pursued their hearts.
When children know that they are loved unconditionally, they will be willing to take greater risks in relationships such as the risk required to ask difficult questions.
Ask Kids Deeper and More Intentional Questions
Once we have begun intentionally pursuing our kids’ hearts, we can continue fostering an environment that welcomes questions by asking our kids deeper and more intentional questions.
Start With Softball Questions
If we haven’t done this often in the past, we can begin with surface level questions such as:
What did you enjoy about that movie?
What would you like to have for dinner tomorrow?
What are two places you’d like to go on vacation one day?
We can then begin asking deeper questions that cause them to think.
These types of questions have two things in common.
First, these questions are open ended. For example, rather than asking, Do feelings always point to truth? We could ask, How do you know whether or not feelings point to truth? Open-ended questions elicit deep thinking because they require an answer deeper than Yes or No.
Deep questions do not presuppose an answer. They do not give the answer in the question. For example, rather than asking “Why does being a boy or girl matter?,” we could ask, What makes you think being a boy or a girl does or doesn’t matter?
These types of questions will get our kids thinking. And they should, in turn, elicit deep questions from our kids.
Preparing For Children’s Questions About God or Christianity
Once our kids begin asking deep questions, we should celebrate. It is such a gift that our children are bringing their deep questions to us!
So, even if their question shocks or scares us a bit, we need to celebrate by affirming what an excellent question it is.
What Are Your Children Really Asking?
The next thing we need to do is get to the root of the question.
Many times, the questions our kids -especially older kids - ask is not the actual question.
For example, if our child asks, “Does God love everybody?,” he probably isn’t actually pondering the philosophical depth and breadth of God’s love.
He is probably wondering “Does God love me after I just_____? Does God love my Muslim/atheist/gay/transgender friend?”
I one of these is the actual question, jumping into a philosophical explanation of God’s love will not help. The right answer to the wrong question, is still the wrong answer. So, we need to get to the root of the question.
Once we have identified the actual question, rather than immediately jumping in with an answer, we should discuss ways of discovering an answer.
This process is counterintuitive.
However, by walking alongside our kids to find an answer, rather than presenting ourselves as the fount of wisdom, we are equipping our kids to seek truth on their own, rather than blindly trusting someone else.
Answering our kids’ questions about God and Christianity may never seem easy.
However, doing so provides us with incredible opportunities to equip our children to seek truth.
If you are ever looking for kid-friendly answers to the problem of evil, check out the Foundation blog series pertaining to this topic below:
About Elizabeth Urbanowicz
Elizabeth Urbanowicz is a follower of Jesus who is passionate about equipping kids to understand the truth of the Christian worldview. Elizabeth holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Gordon College, an M.S.Ed. in Education from Northern Illinois University, and an M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola University. Elizabeth spent the first decade of her professional career teaching elementary students at a Christian school. Elizabeth now works full time on developing comparative worldview and apologetics resources for children. Her goal is to prepare the next generation to be lifelong critical thinkers and, most importantly, lifelong disciples of Jesus.
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