If you’re like me, when you prepare a lesson for youth group, Sunday School, small group, or any other of your youth meetings, you like to have it be as clear and understandable as possible. We never want our students to go home more confused than when they arrived – that would just make us look bad! After all, we’re the person (paid or unpaid) the church is relying on to help students answer their questions about Jesus and about life. People just might start questioning what the heck we’re doing if students are leaving with not only their questions not being answered, but leaving with more questions.
But what if I said, “they should be leaving with more questions” or “we should not give them answers they’ll understand” – would that put an uneasy feeling in your stomach? Would that cause you and your senior pastor to spend some “quality” time together? We want students to feel comfortable and confident that if they come to us with questions that we’ll give them the right answer and send them on their way with a little more of a bounce in their step. How would it make us look if they went away confused and scratching their head? It might make us look a little more like Jesus than you think.
In Matthew 9, the Pharisees asked Jesus why his disciples didn’t fast and he answered them by talking about a wedding, patching old clothes and putting wine into wineskins…what? In John 6 Jesus says his followers needed to eat his flesh and drink his blood…excuse me? I’m sure as the people walked away from these and other teachings from Jesus; they were a bit more confused than when it started. But I also think it did something we might not be doing with our teaching…it caused people to talk to others about it and work through the answers together. The conversations on the way home after hearing Jesus teach probably all started with the same question – “what do you think he meant by that?
Are we giving our students all the answers or are we creating opportunities for them to work through the answers together? Are they learning our faith or engaging in their own? Jesus created opportunities for discussion in and through his teachings. Should we be doing the same? Maybe the next time a student asks one of those great life questions we should answer them in a way that helps them work through the confusion with others. How can you create in your group an environment that fosters a “talk it through” mentality?
Nate Eckert is the youth pastor at Flora United Methodist Church in Flora, IN.