When you’re dealing with the topics in BE BOLD, kids will come into your class with previously formed thoughts and opinions. And some of those thoughts and opinions are going to be wrong.
But remember, one of the values of BE BOLD is that “we respect each other’s thoughts and struggles.” We don’t want to contradict that value when we respond to a preteen who brings an obviously wrong answer. Instead, it’s a great opportunity to teach!
So here’s what you can do:
Don’t Shame Them
The easy response when someone says something obviously wrong is, “No, that’s not right.”
The next easiest response is to say, “Close…” in a tone that shows they really weren’t close at all.
Both of these responses leave kids feeling stupid…and less likely to share in the future.
I recently had a fifth-grade boy mention that Jesus had never sinned. Then a girl piped up, “Yes, he did. When he flipped the tables, he sinned.”
Yikes! I had to think quickly to make sure kids didn’t walk away thinking Jesus was a sinner! But I also wanted this girl to feel heard and validated.
So what I didn’t do is say, “No, that’s not right. Jesus never sinned.”
What I did do is…
I responded to this girl, “You know, a lot of people think that. It’s a confusing story! It sure seems like it would be wrong for us to flip over tables in church. But it wasn’t wrong when Jesus did it, because of the reasons he was doing it. Jesus never sinned.”
Do you see what I did? I corrected her, but in an affirming way. By saying, “A lot of people think that,” I let her know she wasn’t some idiot with a foolish notion no one had ever thought of before.
By saying, “It’s a confusing story! It sure seems like it would be wrong for us to flip over tables in church,” I affirmed the logical thought that went into her opinion.
And then I was ready to reinforce the truth that Jesus never sinned.
Open the Floor for More Questions
When someone says something obviously wrong, our gut tells us to correct it immediately. But what if we let kids find their way to the answer instead?
Here’s what that might’ve looked like in the example I shared. (And by the way, I wish this had been my response.)
Girl: “Yes, he did. When he flipped the tables, he sinned.”
Me: “Interesting thought. Why do you think that was a sin?”
or…“Thank you for bringing up that idea. What does everyone else think about that?”
By opening the floor for more discussion, you help kids wrestle with the “obviously wrong” statement. To the preteen who said it, it seems obviously right. And that wrestling process can be really helpful in overcoming the preconceived notions she brought to class.
Then, after kids have wrestled a little bit by bringing their own opinions to the table, you can say, “Let’s see what the Bible has to say,” and point them to Scripture.
And in the end, when you wrap it up with “The Bible says Jesus never sinned,” it’s after such a great process of discussion and wrestling, it doesn’t seem like a correction or a direct response to the child with the wrong answer. Instead, it just feels like the conclusion of a great conversation.