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Growing up in a Christian family comes with a lot of blessings, from protection against some sinful behaviors to early familiarity with God’s Word. But it can also bring your kids face to face with unique challenges, particularly the challenge of wrestling with their own questions about the faith they have grown up with.
Hearing your kid’s doubts can be frightening or even painful. You’ve spent years discipling your child, and now she isn’t sure she agrees with you anymore. But condemning your kid for asking questions doesn’t provide the reassurance and the answers they so desperately need.
So how do you respond gently but helpfully? Sean McDowell, Bible teacher and apologist, recently shared about his own experience with doubt as a teenager and the wisdom that his dad imparted to him during that time.
Let’s look at the three key steps Sean’s dad gave him as a guide in dealing with doubts.
1. Reassure them that it’s okay to have doubts.
As our kids grow up and learn to think critically, they are going to have new questions about the doctrines they’ve heard their whole lives. But as Sean McDowell pointed out, that’s not a bad thing. Instead, having questions shows that they care about finding the truth, and that is a wonderful place for them to start making the faith their own.
Your teenager might be scared to admit that he has doubts. He might even be scared of those doubts. Make sure that you remind your kids that you love them, that God loves them, and that you’re eager to help them work through their doubts and questions.
2. Encourage them to articulate their doubts and questions.
We cannot look for answers if we don’t know what questions we are asking. Encourage your kids to make a list of the questions that are bothering them. Making that list turns a fuzzy cloud of uncertainty into real, specific questions—questions that other people may have wrestled with, questions that you might have asked yourself, questions that Scripture can answer.
3. Point them to God’s Word and to wise teachers grounded in God’s Word.
We don’t have all the answers to our kids’ questions—and that’s a good thing. It might seem ideal to go through our kids’ questions and answer them all ourselves, but that would only teach our kids to put their faith in us. Instead, help your kids go to God’s Word, where they can anchor their faith in their Creator.
You can also help your kids seek out the help of experienced teachers, apologists, and theologians to accompany them through their doubts as a guide in God’s Word. Other Christians have wrestled with the questions your teenager is facing, and many of them found answers in God’s Word.
We also want to share with you a new tool that you could use to help your kids work through their doubts and questions. Sean McDowell is the editor of the CSB Apologetics Study Bible for Students, a study Bible designed to answer the top 130 questions that teenagers today ask about God, life, and the world. With resources such as archeological evidence, explanations of commonly misinterpreted verses, and articles by leading apologists and thinkers, this study Bible can serve as an additional resource to help your teenager sort through doubts and search for answers.