Freeing Young People to Ask Difficult Questions

Brad M. Griffin | Apr 7, 2015

Photo by Steve Halama

Can we talk about something later?

When you hear those words as a youth ministry leader, your internal alarms probably start ringing. That question can lead to anything from I think I’m gay to My parents are getting a divorce to I’m not sure if I believe in this God thing anymore.

We don’t know until we let them ask.

Our research at FYI uncovered that being able to ask about hard questions and struggles is connected with faith that lasts. So we created a high school curriculum called Can I Ask That? to help leaders create space for natural conversations about hard topics.

We have been so pleased with the response from leaders, parents, and teenagers to Can I Ask That? over the past year. We knew there was a need for dialogue-based curriculum addressing doubts and hard questions like this. What we didn’t know was just how hungry leaders would be to take this study and run with it.

Here are a few snapshots of the ways Can I Ask That? is being used:

  • Small group studies and Sunday School curriculum
  • High school retreats and camps, including senior/graduate retreats
  • Intergenerational classes
  • Parent/teenager discussions
  • Christian high school Bible/theology classes
  • College and young adult small groups

Our team has been particularly inspired by a story from Dr. Tod Bolsinger, Fuller’s Vice President for Vocation and Formation. Tod and his daughter Ali, a high school junior, read the books together last year. Ali shared, "I love it because it doesn’t tell you what to think, but gives you tools for how to think.” Given the freedom to ask questions in the context of a guided discussion, Ali and Tod were able to have much more open and honest conversations. Those talks led to other questions, and led to Ali wanting to study the series again with a group of peers. Tod shared, Can I Ask That? asks really good, even fearless questions. That empowers teachers (and students) to know that Christianity should inspire questions, not squelch them.”

In response to stories like Tod and Ali’s, we will be launching Can I Ask That Volume 2 on April 15th, releasing six more questions that in-the-trenches youth pastors helped us select based on real questions from students like yours:

  • Is it wrong to doubt God?
  • Is hell real? How could God send someone there?
  • Can I do something so bad God won’t forgive me?
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Is sex outside marriage wrong?
  • Why is it so awkward to talk about Jesus with my friends?

If the question is, Can I ask that? The answer is yes. You can ask that.

Learn more about how you can win a FREE Can I Ask That? Volume 2 Leader and Student Guide bundle.

Learn More Here

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute, where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, writer, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of over a dozen books, including 3 Big Questions That Change Every Teenager, Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and Can I Ask That? Brad and his family live in Southern California, where he serves as Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries at Mountainside Communion.


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