A guide to asking great questions that’ll help kids own their faith.
You may already know that questions help kids process what they’ve learned. But how do you know if you’re asking the right questions? That’s a little tougher.
Questions can help kids own their faith…or they can waste valuable lesson time. In the precious minutes you have with kids each week, are you asking questions that prompt them to think more deeply about their faith? Read on to discover what makes some questions ineffective—and how to replace them with questions that lead to thoughtful faith.
NIX FILL-IN-THE-BLANK QUESTIONS
A fill-in-the-blank question is one where you have a specific, “correct” answer in mind, and kids must guess the exact word you’re looking for. Rather than kids thinking critically about what they’ve learned, they’re just trying to read your mind.
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Example: On his blog, Holy Soup, Group founder Thom Schultz shared a video of a prime
example of a fi ll-in-the-blank question. The teacher asks, “Who can tell me where Jesus was
born?” For three minutes kids try to answer the question with ideas such as, “in the sky,” “Jerusalem,” and even “Bethlehem.” But, alas, the teacher was looking for the word “manger.”
Why Don’t They Work? If you have a specific thought in mind, just tell kids. Having them try to guess what’s in your mind doesn’t help kids remember the lesson any better. Think about it—in the three minutes kids spent trying to guess the word “manger,” they could’ve been learning important truths. At best, these questions waste time that could’ve been spent in a real discussion. But an even greater risk: Kids walk away focused on their “wrong” answers rather than the point of the lesson.
instead. . .ask thinking questions
A thinking question challenges kids—and you—to think about the Bible or faith in a new way. This type of question stands in stark contrast to fill-in-the-blank questions because there’s no specific answer in mind. Ideally, thinking questions are surprising, specific, and personal.
Example: Some Bible events especially lend themselves to thinking questions that help kids grapple with truth. For example, in Judges 11 Jephthah makes a promise to sacrifi ce the first thing that comes out to greet him as praise to God for giving him victory in battle. Sadly, his daughter ends up coming out to greet him before any animals do. For older kids, this is a great opportunity to grapple with a question such as, “What do you think is the right thing for Jephthah to do at this point?”
Why Thinking Questions Work: Even kids well-versed in the Bible are engaged by a thinking question. These questions aren’t what they’ve heard over and over again because they’re surprising—there’s no single “right” answer. And guests who don’t know much about the Bible are equally engaged because they don’t have to know details of the Bible they haven’t learned. It’s simply expressing an opinion—and every child has one.