Sometimes we get really nervous when students express their doubts or question their faith.
Yet, for many, the time they doubted and asked those tough questions, in retrospect, is actually a time when they were ‘chewing on their faith’.
A common response from adults to those types of questions is – “just have faith” or “pray more” …which can be a point of frustration when those are the exact questions that students are asking in the first place!
If instead, we can engage in discussion and take the time to talk with students through their questions, it can have a huge impact on their spiritual growth.
It is an honor when students come to us with their questions and doubts because it’s an evidence of faith: a faith that is wanting to engage and think and wrestle.
So, the next time you have a concerned parent come to you with worries that their youth is having doubts, remind them that doubts are often just the beginning of a search for truth. If those doubts are engaged and patiently chewed on together, it can build faith.
And even more, that God WANTS to hear what we are thinking and struggling with, yes, even you as a leader.
He wants to walk with you through those doubts.
He is loving and patient. He can be trusted. He can take your questions and He wants to hear them.
And you can also be sure that the questions that you wrestle with God with, will be asked by someone else somewhere down the road, so ask away!
Nick Diliberto, Ministry to Youth
P.S. – On a personal note, I recently went on my first ever private airplane ride.
(And a part of me was DOUBTFUL I would survive..ha…ha).
A friend of mine is a pilot, and she needed someone to tag along on her next flight. It was an awesome opportunity (uuhhh….free flight…nice), so I said “HECK YEAH!”
But I was really nervous as evident from this picture taken just minutes before departure:
After we got in the air, I was much more relaxed.
It was so much fun!
When we got in the air Andre, my pilot friend, asked me where I wanted to go. And that marked the first time ever an airline pilot asked me that question (uuuhh…can we go to Europe?). Wow.
We flew over my house, and I got to see what it looks like from the sky (it’s a lot smaller that high up). We flew within about a 60-75 mile radius of where I live.
Pretty amazing experience!!!
Just wanted to share that with you.
Now for the lesson…
YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON DOUBT
Bible: Psalm 10 (preferably from the Message)
Bottom Line: Doubt is often the evidence of faith.
OPENING GAME – I DOUBT IT
Bible trivia (from your brain or find some online!)
Pens for each youth
Say: (in an overly dramatic voice)
Today, we are going to play a game that will test even the best Bible scholars among us.
You will scratch your heads in agony as you doubt if you truly do know the right answer.
Only the bravest should step forward.
Ask for 6 brave volunteers who feel confident in their Biblical knowledge.
Have the volunteers go in the other room to spend time with their Bibles (make this a funny challenge), making sure that they cannot hear what is going on in the room.
Tell the group once the volunteers are in the other room: Today we are going to try to make our Biblical scholars doubt their answer to these questions.
I want to see your best arguments and confusion tactics, ok?
I will bring the contestants in one at a time and ask them one question each, and once they answer, try to make them second-guess their answer. Then we will call the next scholar in and on and on.
Once the volunteer has answered the question (or attempted to answer) have them join the group. It will be funny to see their reactions as they realize they have been tricked into doubting their answers.
After the game, ask the contestants:
What was the most difficult thing about answering the trivia questions with others trying to make you doubt your answer?
Did you doubt whether you had the right answer? Why or why not?
How is this game like trying to figure out what you believe?
Is it ok to doubt? Why or why not?
TEACH – YOUTH GROUP LESSON ON DOUBT
Today, we are talking about doubt.
Doubt can be a tough topic, and today you might be surprised by what you will discover.
I want everyone to take some index cards and a pen.
As we talk about doubt, if you think of a question or a doubt that you have, please write it down on those cards.
Don’t put your name on it because if it were me and my name were on it, I might not write out my honest doubts.
It’s hard to admit that you have doubts.
I know because I have had doubts.
Share, if it isn’t too fresh, some of the doubts that you had when you were younger in the faith.
For example, maybe you doubted about prayer or the problem of evil and why bad things happen.
Share honestly, but don’t ‘rip the bandaid’ off too much with this short sharing.
Would it surprise you to hear that many of the greatest Christians throughout time have had serious doubts and questions about the faith?
Feel free to choose one of the prominent Christians mentioned in this article:
King David in the Bible was said to be a man after God’s heart, and even he had questions.
Read Psalm 10.
What were some of the questions that David asked of God?
What did you think after reading this Psalm, especially knowing that it was written by a man who truly loved God?
So, let me ask you: Do you have doubts?
Do you secretly worry that your questions or doubts are wrong?
Maybe some of you have already written questions down on your cards….and most of you have questions but are afraid to write them down.
Let me share a few things that doubt says about us:
#1 – Doubt sometimes shows that we have faith.
Expressing the fact that you have questions about God or faith or the Bible is a really scary and brave thing to admit.
And unfortunately, some adults and even pastors can feel uncomfortable with questions, but God does not have a problem with the questions.
In fact, God says that we should come to him with our requests and our needs
Many Christians have found that when they come to God honestly with their questions, that something amazing happens, which leads to..
#2 – Asking questions of God requires that we have faith that He is there and loves us.
Think of any relationship in your life: when you get to the point that you can ask honest questions, that is when you know that your relationship is close.
You aren’t putting on a show or acting like everything is fine, but being honest and vulnerable.
That takes faith.
#3 – Doubt can lead us closer to God and help us grow in our faith.
Many Christians who are very strong in their walk with God will point to the times that they had a crisis of faith or asked serious questions.
Why do you think it works that way?
How can doubt bring you closer to God?
Imagine that you go to God with those doubts and questions that make you worry that you aren’t strong enough and that you actually have him answer?
God wants us to ask him questions.
God wants us to come to him with those questions.
And through that searching, amazing growth can happen in your life.
#4 – Doubt can lead to answers that strengthen you and prepare you for real life, which can be tough.
One of the main questions that people ask about is “why do bad things happen?”
Maybe share your own struggle with this question.
And though there are no easy answers, when you go to God with these questions, you learn things about him.
That he is loving and fair always.
That he knows our hearts and motives, and we don’t have to ever worry that He doesn’t understand us or ‘get’ us.
# 5 – Doubt can lead you closer to God if you just simply go to Him.
Does it mean that He will immediately answer you?
No, probably not.
And God has shown a habit of answering His children in strange ways, such as whispering to them, speaking in burning bushes, and even in the life of a tiny baby born in a manger.
But this is something you can be sure of: God wants to talk to you.
He wants to hear what you are thinking, and if you listen or watch….you might just be surprised in how God talks with you about your questions.
Maybe someone will come up to you with just the thing you were asking or you hear a song with words that really speak to you.
It might take years or seconds, but keep on going to God and waiting on those answers.
And know that God loves you.
You are safe asking him…questioning him.
I want you to take a minute and just write down the questions and doubt that you might have.
Don’t put your name, but know that I will be here afterwards to talk if you want to come up and say “hey, that was my question…can we talk more about this? “
And I will take these questions and try to answer these questions in lessons the next few weeks.
I was going to read them out loud in a minute, but only to show you all something really important, so write on the card “Don’t read out loud” if you don’t want me to read it.
Give the students a few minutes (some will finish quickly, some will take longer) and pass them in to you.
Read the questions/doubts slowly and making sure to not let this become a time to laugh at others or try to guess who wrote what as this might be very vulnerable for some.
As you read, you will likely find very similar questions, which is a great insight into the group of where to go with future lessons.
After you have read the questions, ask:
Were you surprised by any of the questions?
Raise your hand if you have asked any of these questions at some time in your life?
(Hopefully, most of the students will raise their hands).
I hope you see through this simple exercise that you are not alone in your doubt or your questions.
Share some of the questions that you yourself have asked.
If there are questions that you feel a need to immediately answer address those with the group at this point as you feel is age and situationally appropriate.
What questions or doubts did you hear a couple of times as I read?
I hope this lesson gives you some peace in realizing that no one has all the answers.
No one has it all together in this faith thing, and that is actually a good thing because it is in asking questions sometimes that we learn.
It is the questions that can drive us to really depend on God and one another in ways we wouldn’t if we had all the answers.
God loves us just as much, if not more, after hearing these questions and doubt than he ever has.
Close in prayer.
SMALL GROUP DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
What questions did you hear that were asked the most by the group?
How does it make you feel to know that everyone has questions or doubts at some point?
What is the one question that you would ask God if he were sitting next to you right now?
What are some of the ways that God might answer your questions or doubts?
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