We say we
want kids to have a thinking faith, but we often create the
opposite. A skill we need to get better at is asking good
questions. Here's what we often ask: How many disciples did Jesus
have? What were the disciples' names? Which disciple was with Jesus
at the cross? Which disciple did Jesus appear to after he rose from
the dead? All of these questions are closed-ended and basic
recall--which are two types of questions we need to avoid.
Instead, imagine asking these questions: Why do you think Jesus
chose 12 close disciples? Why do you think some people wanted to be
Jesus' disciple while others didn't? Why do you think Thomas
couldn't believe in Jesus until he saw with his own eyes? When have
you been like Thomas?
A world of difference!
In our editing of FaithWeaver Now, we're eradicating 5 types of
questions that do nothing to create a thinking faith for children.
You can do the same with the curriculum you're using. Here are the
five questions to avoid asking children.
1. Basic Recall Questions--The first set of
questions above are basic recall. Some might argue that we need to
ask these questions to check whether kids got the basic truths or
facts. I would argue instead that asking deeper questions that get
at kids' understanding will reveal whether kids got the basic facts
or not. In my opinion, basic recall questions are a waste of time
and should be avoided like the plague. Take kids deeper in their
understanding and you'll nurture transformative discoveries!
2. Close-Ended Questions--Questions that can be
answered with one answer are closed ended: yes, no, maybe, good,
bad, etc. The point of asking children questions is to create a
dialogue--not to test them! One little girl felt so drilled by
closed-ended questions that when she came home, she told her mom
that she had taken a test at Sunday school. Use open-ended
questions to create a vibrant conversation.
3. Guessing Questions--We ask so many questions
where kids are just guessing: "What did Mary feel when Jesus died?"
How would they know? They're just guessing. "Why did Judas betray
Jesus?" Again--guessing. Simply adding "what do you think" to these
questions helps because kids don't have to guess about what they
think. So ask, "How do you think Mary felt as Jesus died on the
cross?" or "Why do you think Judas betrayed Jesus?" Even better,
ask: "Why do you think Jesus didn't kick Judas out of the group
before his betrayal?"
4. Projection Questions--Often, in an attempt
to move kids to life application (which is important), we ask kids
to project into the future: "What would you do if an angel appeared
to you?" or "What would you do if someone challenged your faith in
Jesus?" Again, they're guessing about the future. Instead, we can
ask kids to think through options: "What could you do if an angel
appeared to you?" or "What could you do if someone challenged your
faith in Jesus?" A great follow-up to that last question would be
"Which of those options do you think would be the hardest or the
easiest for you to do?" Another great antidote to Projection
Questions is to ask kids to tell about a time where they actually
experienced what you're talking about: "Tell about a time someone
made fun of you for being a Christian."
5. Not Age-Appropriate Questions--(I can't
think of a term for the opposite of Age-Appropriate). It's
frustrating for children and teachers when questions are above
their ability or their knowledge base. As I edited the three
younger age levels of FaithWeaver NOW, I was excited to see the
questions become even more age-appropriate since we'll use this
curriculum in my 2-year-old class this fall. No more blank stares
from my little ones!
Here's to you getting the kids in your ministry developing a
thinking faith that'll give them a strong foundation not only in
what they believe, but also why they believe!