Andy Buckwalter served as a FUGE Bible study leader at Ridgecrest last summer. He currently serves as the Director of Youth Ministry at Crux Youth Ministry. Andy and his wife, Leann, reside in York, Pennsylvania. He has a degree in Youth ministry from Messiah College. Interesting fact about Andy: He once punched a fish underwater because it bit him!
Some of us have lived it. All of us have dreaded it. I’m talking about an all too familiar scenario. You are in Bible study, or youth group, and a teenager in the back raises his hand and asks “that” question. The question you went to great lengths to avoid during this Bible study, the one you have been avoiding like the plague for one simple reason. You don’t know the answer.
Now, as the room temperature steadily increases, you have several options. Option one, you can come up with some weak “Sunday school” answer and try to fake your way around it, without actually answering the question and get back to what you wanted to talk about. Option two, disregard their question by saying it is off topic, and say, “we can talk about that another time,” with no intention of doing so. Option three, you throw a bunch of big words at them that you are sure they do not know what they mean (and neither do you). Or option four, fake a heart attack.
But there is another option, and it is one we often forget: Just be real with them. It is ok to say, “I don’t know”. Believe it or not, not knowing everything there is to know about God will not cause you to lose their respect. In fact, being so open with them will gain more respect from them. A technique I have used in the past is to say, “That is a great question. I don’t have an answer for it. What do you guys think?” Turn the question back to the group. Let them discuss it. Feel free to say what you think, but listen first. Be real with them. Some of my best evenings with youth have started with a question that I could not answer, and ended with them dialoguing together about our Lord. Isn’t that what we want?
So the next time this happens, let’s not worry about our pride and how intelligent we look, but rather look to the opportunity God has presented us with.
When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say – Luke 12:11-12