Yes, You Can Ask That

Jim Candy Brad M. Griffin Kara Powell | Mar 13, 2014

Our official Can I Ask That? Twitter Contest ends Friday!

Tweet a tough question that one of your students has asked
and tag it #CanIAskThat to receive a free Can I Ask That? Leader Guide!

Ever overheard a conversation like this one?

Eli: Faith is a personal thing. I will always respect what you believe. All I’m asking for in return is that you respect what I believe. To say that my religious beliefs are false is intolerant. I think Jesus is a wonderful example, but there are other ways to find great truth too.

Carla: I’m not concerned about getting into arguments with people, but I do believe Jesus is the true way to know God. People will know Jesus by the way I love others, and it’s important to share Jesus whenever I can so that everyone can know the truth.

Scott: Everyone is so afraid of offending other people that we lose a sense of what makes us different and unique. Christianity is different, and we need to make sure people know what those differences are. People might call me intolerant, but aren’t they just being intolerant of me too?

Sarah: Christians I know who claim to know all the truth make me so mad. How can they be so arrogant? What about people who were born in cultures where they grew up learning a different faith? How can we be so convinced that they aren’t also right?

Whether your students are as open as this conversation or not, chances are good that they’re wondering about this and a host of other questions. But they may not know they have permission to ask.

In our Sticky Faith research, we found that seventy percent of youth group graduates reported that they had doubts in high school about what they believed about God and the Christian faith, and just as many felt like they wanted to talk with their youth leaders about their doubts. Yet less than half of those students actually talked with leaders. Likewise, less than half talked with their youth group peers about their doubts.

We also learned that high schoolers who feel safe to express doubt and struggles with adults tend to show stronger faith across the transition into young adulthood.

In other words, we might be leaving some of our students in the dark just by failing to make space for their questions.

In our new field-tested high school small group curriculum, Can I Ask That? 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith, we’ve taken conversations like the one above and surrounded them with insights from scripture, culture, and Christian history to create a tool you can use to generate dialogue. Notice we said “dialogue,” not just answers. Exploring hard questions can lead to deeper convictions than the “right” answers you might want to offer.

They’re asking these questions with or without you. Let it be with you.

Honestly, I've been confused about some of these things. This study helped me understand more about the issues. —Caleb, age 16

Jim Candy

Jim is a veteran of youth ministry with nearly 20 years experience working with students in large churches including Menlo Church in the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2013 he planted Ascent Community Church just outside Boulder, Colorado, which has quickly grown to nearly 1,000 and is highly intergenerational. Jim is co-author of Can I Ask That? and Can I Ask That 2 for high school students and is a graduate of Fuller Seminary.

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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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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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