An Honest Q & A

Kara Powell | Mar 31, 2011

Today’s guest blogger is Jeff Liou. On Sunday, March 20, our high school ministry had a Q & A session. I was serving at “Church in the Park” for folks who are homeless with my family that morning so I wasn’t there, but one of our high school leaders e.mailed out some of the questions afterwards. The questions were so intriguing that I asked a bit more about what the morning was like. One of the panelists answering the Q & A, Jeff Liou is a Fuller PhD student and our church’s college pastor. Given how important our Sticky Faith research is showing it is to give students a chance to ask hard questions, we thought you’d benefit by hearing both the questions and then Jeff’s description of his own experiences that morning.

-If you blaspheme the Holy Spirit, you can’t be forgiven. I used to be a
very bad kid and said bad things about God. What now?

-Whats up with predestination and free will? If God puts desires in our
heart then doesn’t that destroy free will?

-Why does God make bad things so easy to do?

-Can you lose your salvation after you pray to accept Jesus into your
heart?

-Hell?

-Do non Christians have the Holy Spirit? What is the role of their
conscience in their lives?

-Is shame good? When is it from the Holy Spirit (if it is) and when is it
bad?

Here are Jeff’s thoughts about engaging with those questions as a panelist:

When we opened the floodgates for a free for-all, theological Q&A, we were
thrilled by the questions the students asked. Some asked really cerebral
questions, some asked deeply personal questions that had to be written on
a card to be asked. We tried to choose a mix of both types - there were
so many questions that we MIGHT have gotten to half of them. Some of the
questions were asked, I’m convinced, just to make us squirm, but we took
those questions on anyway! The three panelists came from different
viewpoints on some of the theological questions, and had different advice
on some of the practical questions, but the sense that we were trying to
give was that we figure all this stuff out together. After it was done,
we were even more amazed at the number of kids that stuck around to ask
more questions from the panelists. A handful of kids even took the time
to tell me how awesome it was to get to do that.

As a college pastor, this was an encouraging morning. I have met too many
college students who are no longer Christians because, as they tell me,
“no one ever answered my questions about ‘X’ in a way that made sense.”
We all know that for so many questions, there’s no one easy answer.
That’s why it was great to give a diversity of answers that fall safely
within the Christian tradition. And on the flip side, I have met too many
Christian students who never ask any questions which, unfortunately, can
be an indicator of their interest-level in spiritual things. The high
schoolers’ eagerness greatly encouraged me. This experience demonstrated
to me the importance of making my own college groups a safe and open space
for serious questioning and for honest, transparent answers.

Now here’s a question from Kara: as parents or leaders, what are you doing to try to help teenagers feel free to ask good questions?

Kara Powell

Dr. Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary, and Fuller's Chief of Leadership Formation. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing Young, Growing With, The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. Kara lives with her husband Dave and their three children, Nathan, Krista, and Jessica, in Southern California.


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