What Happens When…

What happens when you have your kids in the car? I was driving my boys home last night from youth group at the Denver location for Restoration. As we pulled out of the lot, I asked, “How was it tonight?”

I have three teenagers, so the probability is high they will say something like “good”, “fine”, or “ok”. I then begin to interrogate.

“Seriously,” Most of the time I say, “What did you talk about? Was it fun? What did you do?”

I didn’t have to do that last night. They began to ask me questions.

As we drove down the road, one of my boys began to ask questions. He took a deep dive into the tough ones about whether or not we can really believe Jesus is real. He wondered about other religions. He wanted help understanding what to do with his doubt.

Sometimes I am so tired, and I miss such moments. But thankfully, last night I was alert. We talked and worked our way through some of his tough questions. I’m not sure if I satisfied all his questions, but we began the conversation and it was brilliant — a golden moment!

Here are some things I am learning that help when my kids or friends suddenly want to talk about Jesus and faith. I don’t always do this well, but I try to let these principles guide my conversations:

Open up your soul. We need to show how faith works in our own journey. This means being genuine and honest. When we talked about doubt last night, I was quick to tell my son that I deal with doubt all the time in my own faith experience. My faith is a dynamic journey. Everyday I get up and face the struggle of believing and trusting God. Sharing my own journey helped to ease tension that surrounded some of the tough questions.

Clarify without shame.  There’s lots to know about faith and the Bible. Likewise there is plenty of misinformation. In good spiritual conversations, misinformation typically emerges. Often, we tend to attack the misinformation. But, this can lead to shaming someone and shutting them down. Make sure to clarify with a lot of grace. Figure out how to help the person discern facts in way that encourages discovery. Most of us embrace more misinformation than we realize; and this makes us nervous, because we are unsure about many things pertaining to faith.

Admit you don’t know.  One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is to say, “Great question. I don’t know the answer.” Invite the person you are talking with to explore along with you to find and answer. Finding the answers or discerning next steps is rooted in doing a few things. Consult your Bible — Even if you struggle with the Bible, look at what you are familiar with and try to find guidance. Consider using trusted online resources to help you explore. Click here to see a terrific resource with Bible resources, as well as dictionaries and commentaries that can help you explore. Search in community — Ask others you trust for help in exploring. That’s the greatest part about church! We are together in this, and we need each other if we want to grow in our faith. At church, be assertive and find those you trust to help you seek and discover answers to questions.

I love moments like last night. It was an open door into the soul of my son. He was seeking and investigating. After we arrived home, I told my wife Cheri about the conversation. She was encouraged too. She told me something that was crucial. “Make sure you affirm him for his higher level thinking on these subjects.” She is right. This is important so that the conversation will hopefully continue.

Before we went to bed I was in the kitchen with my son and told him how much I enjoyed talking with him and that I appreciated his higher level thinking on these issues. He didn’t say anything, but I could tell the wheels were turning in his head. He was encouraged, and so was I!

As we approach Christmas, we are facing the opportunity to create some great moments with people, especially regarding the miracle birth of Jesus. I want to encourage all of us to be ready.

What happens when your friend, or spouse, or child, or relative, or co-worker asks a great spiritual question? Will you be ready when?

Pastor's BlogJoe Beckler