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.
One thought on “What’s Happening Wednesday: Tough Questions”
Sadly, I haven’t felt that the “church” has been open to questions as a whole. I can remember many times growing up when I made the adults around me anxious with some of the questions I would ask. I was blessed to be born into a family where I quickly learned to run my questions by them before introducing to the general church populace. My favorite part of church used to be Sunday School. When I was young, I expected it to be the sacred companion to my secular school training. As I grew up I saw that not all but most people did not take Sunday School seriously. People did not take time to study the lesson. When I got to the teenage class years it got really bad because we had important questions we needed to ask and what we got was not adequate to the needs of that time in our lives. Adult class and bible study also did not follow basic tenants of andragogy. I even spent time as a teacher in Christian education which from a preparation standpoint was one of my most amazing experiences as a Christian. From the perspective of trying to engage my students, it was a nightmare because again, no one took it seriously. I eventually stepped down from my instructor role out of frustration and I feel that emptiness inside me because I love studying, sharing, questioning, celebrating, debating and discerning God’s word. I believe it makes us better doers of His will when we wrestle with His textbooks. I pray for a day when I can do that again in a community of scholars and doers.