When Our Kids Question God

As a parent, what’s your worst fear?

Well, for me, I have a loooong list.

Big scary words come to mind: Cancer. Kidnapping. Accidents. Catastrophe. Sexual abuse. Disease. Illness. Terrorists. Getting run over by a car. Drowning. Forgetting a baby in a hot car.

I should add being bullied on that list.  And just for kicks, let’s add lice and ticks on that list, too.

Just thinking about it makes my stomach churns.

But those are just physical things.  What about the things we cannot see?

As a Christian parent, what’s your worst fear?

I’m just going to be honest.  One that sits on TOP on MY list is that my kids will doubt God and His love for them.

And that they might question God and walk away from their faith.

When I think of this, my heart sinks.

After all, don’t we try so hard to cultivate our kids’ faith?

We take them to church, youth groups, and Sunday school. We do devotions, read Bible stories, and memorize verses.  We try to do the “right” things and read the “right” books.

But here’s the thing that gets to me every single time. Even then, it’s not foolproof.

But you might say, but WAIT!  Isn’t there that verse in Proverbs 22:6“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

But sadly it’s not a 100% guarantee.  The Book of Proverbs is wisdom literature which is not to be confused with a promise or a covenant from God.

We can’t control everything about our lives, and we certainly cannot control everything about our kids either.  This old cliche holds true:  You can only lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink it.

Ugh, I hate that.  Because I like to have control.

So being the crazy researcher that I am, I start looking up everything I could about this topic. I talked to friends — kids, youth, young adults. I started scouring the blogs. I even found blogs of testimonies of young adults and former Christian homeschoolers who completely walked away from faith.

And here’s what I found.  Many parents respond with fear.  They fear their kids’ questions about faith and God.  They quickly offer up solutions, give pat answers, or worse, stop them these “thoughts” to begin with!

In essence, they want to shut-down this type of conversation, rather than prolong it. Many of us want to nip any doubts in the bud before it sprouts bigger.  

According to this book by Kara E. Powell, there is a story about a boy name Steve who had a lot of questions about God:

One Sunday after church, Steve asked his senior pastor one of those questions. “Pastor, if I raise my finger, will God know which one I’m going to raise even before I raise it?”

The Pastor replied, “Yes, God knows everything.”

Steve, who was especially troubled by children who were starving in Africa, then pulled out a Life magazine cover depicting hungry African children and asked the logical follow-up. “Well, does God know about this and what’s going to happen to those children?”

A tougher question, to be sure, but the pastor gave a similar response. “Steve, I know you don’t understand, but yes, God knows about that.”

Steve walked out of church that day and never again returned to a Christian church.

–Kara E. Powell, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family: Over 100 Practical and Tested Ideas to Build Lasting Faith in Kids, Chapter 8, Page 129.

You know who the author is writing about?  

Yep, the Steve Jobs. The very Steve Jobs that is the brain behind the very iPhone, MacBook or iPad you might be reading this post on.

Now, this in itself can be a case study. Because Steve Jobs is unique, and his life doesn’t represent all kids that walk away from faith. We cannot extrapolate everything from this case study as universal truths.

But we can still learn from it.

What if, instead of giving trite answers, the pastor engaged in a deeper dialogue with Steve?

What if, instead of giving pat responses, the pastor dug to uncover more of the reasons behind his doubts?

What if, instead of giving quick fixes, the pastor sat down and said, “Tell me more”?

Instead of FEARING their hard questions, what if we actually engaged with them?  

Here are 4 reasons why don’t have to fear our kids’ questions:

1.  When our kids question their faith, they are actually thinking.

Questioning is a sign that there is some brain activity towards this subject matter. (I know, eye roll, right?)  In a world of digital pacifiers and endless entertainment, YouTube watching, cute cat videos, SnapChatting, video gaming, and endless stream of distractions… it’s hard for these kids these days to sit down and think.

Thinking means their brain is engaging with a topic.

Henry Ford once said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason so few engage in it.”

It’s HARD work.  Active thinking means prodding, poking, and turning this topic round and round for examination.  Thinking requires that they approach it from different angles and probing it from different perspectives.

And how we you know that they are actually thinking?  We can tell by their questions.

Thinking requires engagement.  And that’s not such a bad thing.


2. It helps them develop a stronger case for why they believe what they believe (once they do believe).

I encountered this analogy in a Sonlight Homeschool catalog (2012) and it has since stayed with me.

Lilly Chow
Lilly Chow
Lilly Chow is a writer over at EquippingOurKids.com, a blog that helps Christian parents raise steadfast kids in an unsteady world.  As a former youth leader and now mom to 4 kiddos, she is passionate about equipping the next generation.  For more actionable tips, download her FREE quick start guide: How to Tackle Your Kid’s Questions About Faith (Even When You’re Stumped)

Related Posts


Recent Stories