She raised her hand. The whole room turned to look at her, but she didn’t care. She looked straight ahead. She clearly and succinctly asked her question. Then, she sat down and waited for her answer.
I couldn’t have been prouder of my daughter than I was in that moment. Sure, I’ve watched her perform in sacred and secular spaces. She’s sung, danced and acted. Tonight, she’s giving a speech celebrating her nomination to the Superintendent’s Honor Roll, and I’ll be there with bells on. But none of that compares to how I felt last night.
We go to Bible study weekly. Every now and then, our ministerial staff hosts what they call “Bible Study Out the Box”, where they open the floor for any question from the audience. This time our children were allowed to stay in the main sanctuary, and they, too, were encouraged to ask questions.
Some of our ministerial staff are a bit long-winded, so we didn’t get to ask many questions. But I think there was some good discussion. My daughter’s question, in particular, received a couple of thoughtful and thorough answers.
But I was less concerned about the subject matter of her question than I was that at 12, she’s already wrestling with the book. I encourage my children to ask questions, of me, of their teachers, of any authority figures. (Sometimes, this approach is frustrating, as I feel compelled to answer them as my parents answered me, “because I said so.” That is not a way to encourage dialogue. But as a parent, sometimes we do not want dialogue, we want obedience.) I never want my children to feel as though they have to comply with a request that they don’t understand, or that makes them uncomfortable.
I encourage asking tough questions. I ask tough questions myself. I don’t care who rolls their eyes, or mutters under their breath. I do it at work. I do it at home. And anybody who has spent any time with me in a church setting knows that it is my favorite place to ask a question.
Does your church encourage people to ask questions? If not, why? Are your leaders properly trained to give biblical answers? Are they comfortable admitting that they do not know? Are dissent, dialogue, and diversity of thought encouraged? Why or why not?
These are just a few tough questions you ought to be asking yourself. Because if not, someone like me or my daughter will be asking them of you. And then they will sit quietly and wait for your answer.