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Discipling children: Engaging their doubts

November 30th, 2011

(This is the continuation of the series on Discipling Our Children.)

If you are a Christian and want to raise your children to embrace a life of faith in Jesus Christ, I can guarantee you that at some point, in fact at many points, your children will have doubts about the beliefs that you taught them.  Even though we take them to Sunday school, children’s church, and youth group, and maybe they attend Christian school, and we may even study the Bible with them at home, those “apologetics” issues will nag at their minds.  They may sincerely want to believe, but in the back of their minds, they are asking, “Why does God allow good people to suffer?”, “Isn’t it narrow-minded to believe that Jesus is the only way?”  I know this to be true because we as adults, though we are convinced of our faith, will continue to have some of those same questions.

Rather than expecting our children to blindly believe what we teach them, it is healthy for them to engage their doubts and seek answers.

However, very few kids will talk to their parents about their questions.  Growing up in the church, they will think that it’s unacceptable and even sinful to have questions.  And they will think that we will get upset if they ask, and start preaching at them. Most likely we have not given them a safe place to talk about their doubts.  So if your kids do not voice their doubts, it doesn’t mean they don’t have questions.

So I suggest that we be the one to bring up the questions, and challenge the children to think critically.  “What are some reasons why we believe in God?”  “How do you feel when God does not answer your prayers?”  “Do you ever wonder if there really is a heaven and hell?”

This is just a way to open the conversation so that our children will know that it is okay to have questions. Remember don’t preach or get too excited.  Let them know that it is healthy to have questions.  The next step is to honestly look for answers in the spirit of humility.  Let your children know that even as adults we have questions, but our faith is based on what we know, not what we don’t know.

Next post: Discipling your children – Spending one-on-one time

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