What If the Answer Isn’t Clear? | BE BOLD Teacher Tip

What If the Answer Isn’t Clear? | BE BOLD Teacher Tip
August 7, 2019 Ali Thompson
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There’s no “what if” about it. When we created the scope and sequence for BE BOLD, we used real questions preteens asked. And they had some doozies! They had some questions that theologians have been feuding over for 2,000 years. They had some questions no one disagrees about because no one really knows what to believe! 

Part of being bold means not shying away from these tough questions. And sometimes, that means the lesson doesn’t wrap up an answer in a shiny package with a bright red bow.  

But that’s a good thing! When we’re willing to address the questions we can’t answer, we show that questions and faith aren’t opposites. You can have questions—even unanswered questions—and still have a strong faith. That’s a really powerful message for preteens (and you!) to walk away with. Because they’re going to have more questions than you can tackle in two years, and it’s great for them to know those questions don’t have to derail their faith. 

So here’s what you can do: 

Ground Preteens in Truth 

Every lesson of BE BOLD focuses on one of nine Bold Bible Truths. These truths are repeated over…and over…and over…because we want preteens to know that, although there are some murky theological issues, there are also solid truths we can all agree on. Here’s what we know: 

  • God helps us get along (John 15:12) 
  • God is in charge (Psalm 46:10) 
  • Jesus loves you (John 3:16) 
  • The Bible is true (2 Timothy 3:16) 
  • God is your friend (Romans 5:11) 
  • God is at work today (Romans 8:28) 
  • God is always with you (Hebrews 13:5) 
  • God helps you make good choices (Proverbs 3:5-6) 
  • God is all-powerful (1 Chronicles 29:11)

So, while BE BOLD hasn’t finally once-and-for-all settled why bad things happen to good people, it does continually return kids to the solid truth that God is in charge, that he’s always with us, and that he loves us. And if you really believe those truths, you don’t feel so much like you need to know why bad things happen to good people. 

Make sure kids walk away with these truths. They’re written on each week’s student page, and you can keep referring to them through the lesson.  You can say, “We don’t know why ____but what we do know is_____.”  

Here’s an example: Do pets go to heaven when they die? It’s not a simple answer. Some people believe they do, and some believe they don’t. Both have Scripturally-based arguments (which we examine from both sides in the lesson). Your preteens would probably love for you to say, “Golosshins 52:7 says, ‘Fido is definitely in heaven.  But that’s not a real Bible book, and you can’t say that. What you can promise kids is that God is in charge, so his plan for your pets is good.  

Stick to Scripture 

There’s a reason theologians don’t all agree on every issue…sometimes the Bible is a little confusing! Sometimes there are two verses that seem to conflict with one another. We know God is perfect and the Bible is true, so we know somehow beyond our human brains, there must be a right answer. But for now, we have to do the best we can to interpret the Bible. 

That’s a great skill for preteens to build! So when we have a theologically charged question, we just turn to Scripture. We might say, “You know, the Bible doesn’t have a clear answer on that. But let’s see what it does say.” Or we might say, “Some people think, based on these verses, pets go to heaven. Others think that…” 

Don’t be worried about planting the idea in your kids’ minds that the Bible is a living book of contradictions. (Remember, one of our Bold Bible Truths is that the Bible is true!) Be excited about boldly teaching them how to dive into Scripture and grapple with what it really means. 

So, resist the temptation to answer every question with a pat answer. Let kids wrestle with Scripture, and ground them in what we all know is true. Let them see it’s possible to have questions and still have a strong faith. That’s giving them wings. 

Ali Thompson is the managing editor for Group’s children’s ministry curriculum. She lives in Loveland, Colorado with two dogs and a cat. Ali loves teaching 4th & 5th graders every Sunday morning.

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