There’s a verse in the New Testament, written by an early Jesus-follower named Peter, that gives a strong charge to Christians. Wrapped inside a passage about being ready to do the right thing even when faced with suffering, this is what Peter wrote:
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)
Apparently Peter never met a 6th–12th grader: their questions about faith are all over the map. They range anywhere from “Did Adam have a belly button?” to “If Jesus loves me, why did my dad leave?” They have questions about God’s perspective on world famine, war in the Middle East, and what in the world they’re supposed to do with their futures.
The questions students ask can feel intimidating sometimes. You may not know all the answers to the questions your few have about God, but you do have the opportunity to choose your posture when these conversations arise. First of all, you can respond in a way that is gentle and shows the student that you hear what they’re saying and value their thoughts.
Next time one of your few stumps you with a question about faith, try saying, “I don’t know, but we can dig into that together.” Reality is that the question they asked might be unanswerable, but going on this journey together will give you a chance to talk to them about your own faith and how it’s possible to follow Jesus even when we don’t feel know all there is to know about God and about following Jesus. Assure them that regardless of whether you can find an answer, God is for them—and you are too.