As teachers and ministers, we’re supposed to have all the answers, right?
While that’s certainly an ambitious goal to have, it’s not true to life. Furthermore, the problem with the “only ask questions with straight-forward answers” mentality of leadership is that it holds little water for young adults. They know better than to assume life is clear, unwavering, and simple. Life is complex, and often times is filled with more questions than answers. For those of us who don’t have all the answers, these thoughts are encouraging:
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ASK THE QUESTIONS
The days of rote lecture and simply passing along only facts and information are over–at least in the midst of the young adult generation. Anything that they don’t have to devote some energy and mental process to is probably not worth much in their minds. Sometimes the best thing you can do is create breathing room in the midst of your teaching/leading to ask questions. Allow room to not only ask the questions, but time for them to discuss their thoughts surrounding the questions. Many teachers play it safe too often because they fear losing control. We need to continually remind ourselves that at our best we are simply vehicles for the Holy Spirit. We can be sure He is raising questions in their hearts and minds–we just need to allow room for those to surface.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO END WITHOUT ANSWERS
Along with asking questions comes the temptation to tie everything up neatly at the end of a group time. Don’t be afraid to ask the questions and then allow people to leave contemplating things on their own. You might even consider asking a question and then telling people to chew on it for the remainder of the week before you pick the discussion back up the following week. We must learn to help young adults struggle through the issues that are being raised in their minds, most of which simply cannot be resolved in the midst of a 60-minute class.
DON’T FORGET TO REVISIT THE QUESTIONS
While raising questions is important, don’t just allow them to float along on their own without providing guidance in the process. A weekly routine of asking thought-provoking questions and leaving young adults to pursue answers completely on their own can become a discouraging and possibly cynicism-provoking process. When you come back together at your next meeting, allow time to bring those questions back up and release young adults to discuss and share what they’ve discovered in the away time.
Adapted from Context: Engaging the Young Adults of Your Community from Threads by Lifeway