The Power of Yes

Photo by Austin Neill

Today’s guest blogger is Jason Heppner, a recent graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary (‘11 MDiv, Youth, Family, & Culture), he is the Family Ministry Director at Glendale Presbyterian Church in Glendale, CA, coaches baseball for Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta, CA, and frequents any and all coffee shops that sell and offer Stumptown Coffee.

Can I ask that?

No.

Oh…

(End of conversation.)

How often have you heard this type of shut-down conversation take place between an adult and a curious teenager?

“No” can take different forms. It disguises itself so you may not think you’re shutting down the conversation, but to the student it’s the same thing:

  • Let’s talk later.
  • Not now.
  • …  because that’s what the Bible says.

Saying, “No” means the moment has ended and doesn’t deserve to move on.

But what does “No” accomplish? Well, nothing really. It represents a lack of creativity, time, and desire for engagement. Momentum is halted and deeper relationships are thwarted.   

So let’s change one word of that conversation to encourage ongoing conversation: “Yes.”

Suddenly, we have endless possibilities.

  • Yes” communicates to the student that you’re a safe person to share with.
  • Yes” encourages the student to ask deeper questions.
  • “Yes” removes barriers that almost all students have as they approach youth leaders and youth pastors regarding faith, sexuality, and relationships.

Can I Ask That? says, “Yes” over and over again to extending deeper conversations with students about God and faith. It’s a resource that actually resources the youth leader with responses to questions that have historically felt scary and, honestly, questions that sometimes seem impossible to adequately respond to.

Have you ever had a student whose questions were so thought out and deep that you wondered if they thought about anything else? Jake was one of those students for me. He had a lot of questions. What’s God’s role in my life? How does my pursuit of Jesus define who I am? Where am I going in life?

I had the privilege of walking (sometimes running) alongside Jake navigating through questions, reading and studying the Scriptures together, and having conversations over flavorless coffee and mocha lattes about how this all goes together.

Jake’s questions and thirst for life remained constant, but Can I Ask That propelled him in a direction that I didn’t know was possible. It bolstered him to take the lead on forming a Student Leadership Team in our ministry. He got other students to attend our Tuesday evening gathering where we talk openly about Scripture, faith, and the complexities of life. He steps up to serve his peers, comes early to set up, engages thoughtfully in small groups, and is always willing to serve and lead. He continues to ask questions, and brings others alongside him who also ask questions.

Students were already asking these questions; they were just looking for a safe place to address them. All I had to do was say yes.