NAU Mark 9:24 Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, “I do believe; help my unbelief.”
Recently, many of my Christian students are entering the “doubting phase”. I am a big advocate that all students take ownership of their faith. It is one of my YM goals to encourage the mid-late adolescent to deconstruct the faith that has been handed to them via parents and youth pastor.
Some questions some students may ask:
How can we trust the NT?
Is there evidence of homosexuality in animals? And if there is, then why would God put that in them and doesn’t mean human can legitimately practice homosexuality?
Isn’t the Bible full of myths and God’s vengeance?
Have anthropologist actually located the exact location of the Garden of Eden?
Why cannot Gandhi go to Heaven? He was a great man.
Why would an all-powerful God need prayer?
Deconstructing is essentially questioning and intensely examining what has been given to you. 1 Thess 5.21 talks about how it is imperative to test and question everything and find what is good and true.
For the student to seek, doubt, question, explore, and examine his/her faith is a great thing. Youth pastors shouldn’t be afraid to let their students struggle with their faith. Force them to struggle and don’t give them the answers, especially when they are really wanting them.
To be honest, I thoroughly enjoy when students start wrestling and struggling with the Bible, the Christian worldview, the Church, and what it means to be a follower of Christ while in high school.
Don’t get me wrong I also enjoy the super-excited mid to late adolescent Christian too. Although it is only a matter of time, until their over zealous feelings about God slowly start withering away. This is why we don’t model that “the over zealous-passionate mid to late adolescent” is what a passionate Christian looks like. And we especially don’t tell what our students to do or how to channel their over zealous passionate emotion.
I argue that a student really starts living for Christ, when he/she begins to search and seek out their faith on their own. Students can really experience God through their doubt.
Encouraging students to either share or doubt their faith, it still is a gamble. Encouraging students to doubt and question is a risk because they may land on a Christian faith that looks very different than what their youth pastor’s faith loos like . But there is a real beauty in that. Our precious youth group student, still can be a Christian but disagree with their youth pastor, on a few theological points. Weird…embrace theological diversity.
I don’t want students who are robots of their youth pastor. I want students to have their own autonomy and identity in the Kingdom of God. In the end it will be better and healthier for them. Our students have different personalities, thought processes, and experiences that will greatly influence and shape how they understand, experience, and serve God.
I found this prayer in Brian McLaren’s book: A Search For What Is Real, that leads the doubting student through a real honest dialogue with God.
There are times, God, when I struggle in my faith. I may even become angry at you at times. It is childish, but I sometimes feel I need someone to blame for things I do not like, and you become the target for my anger. Help me not to become trapped in my anger. Thank you for the freedom to be honest about it. Thank you for being like an understanding parent to whom I can open my heart. I believe, but when I doubt, help me doubt with you and not against you, God.