Why You Should Teach Children to Ask Good Questions
Jesus asked and answered 183 questions in the Gospels. What can be learned about Jesus’ own openness to ask questions, and to encourage curiosity in his disciples? Is it possible that curiosity and even doubt as we walk out our faith could be an asset, and not a liability? What does that look like in our relationships and training of our children?
When it comes to their faith, we as adults often try to stifle those questions. Sometimes our aversion of questions comes from a fear that any doubts could weaken their faith. We challenge you to approach your child’s questions and doubts as an opportunity to encourage and foster curiosity!
Albert Einstein once said, “Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” (emphasis added)
The idea of a “holy curiosity” can be applied to our faith, and how we teach children in our care to approach their faith as well. Curiosity is one of the hallmarks of a successful child. Children ask upwards of 73 questions each day, and even more than that before age four! We know that Jesus wants us to come to him like children. Matthew 18:3 says, “Then he said, ‘I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.’”
We believe that part of coming to Jesus like little children includes nurturing a curiosity about your faith that you also pass along to the children in your care. As adults, we often forget to be curious and take our faith for granted. By seeing life through the lens of a child, we can rediscover our faith as our children discover theirs!
Curiosity drives us to keep working to learn more about God and his character. It helps us dig into the scriptures with a hunger for new and more knowledge. Curiosity makes us life long-learners who are growing and evolving, rather than sitting stagnant.
When children ask questions of a trusted adult, they trust that they will be given the answers, and the space to explore their own response to those answers. Many times adult treat questions in a child, particularly as it relates to their faith, as sinful. They may fear that any doubt is the enemy of faith, and therefore questions and curiosity are also an enemy of faith. Often, these are the times when children are given rote, formulaic answers from the adults in their lives.
The problem with this model of teaching faith is that it ignores the reality of faith as a living, breathing relationship with Jesus Christ. Faith is not confined to a formula, and Jesus is greater than our doubts! By engaging children in their doubt and allowing them the freedom to ask questions without judgement, we are creating believers who understand how to seek Jesus as adults. By showing them that curiosity in their faith can be more powerful than having the ‘right’ answer to every question, we are giving them the tools to equip them for weathering those times as adults when their faith is tested.
Training children in the faith begins with teaching the building blocks of the Gospel, and modeling that faith. That training continues with cultivating their curiosity, by encouraging them to ask questions and think analytically. Take the time to really engage with them in their doubts, and make it a journey of discovery together!
WellConnected is an initiative of OneHope, and is a gathering place for children and youth ministers to access resources, research, and content to raise up the next generation. It’s a collaborative platform to equip leaders and influencers to effectively reach the kids in their communities. We invite churches and ministers to join one another in coming up with innovative solutions for today’s realities. We are continually learning and growing from each other — sharing knowledge, insight, and best practices.