We were two nights into summer camp when a new student in our ministry pulled me aside to talk after the evening worship service. She nervously rubbed her hands together as she explained that she wanted to give her life to Jesus but she had a lot of questions holding her back. I whispered a prayer in the quiet of my heart asking the Lord for wisdom and opened my Bible. “I don’t have all the answers,” I told her, “but I know Someone who does.”
As she began sharing some of her big questions with me, she couldn’t have known they were some of the very same questions I had been asking God myself recently. When she inevitably asked, “Why has God allowed all of these bad things to happen to me?” I took a deep breath and told her the truth, “I don’t know but I ask God that question sometimes too.” Ultimately, I went on to explain the brokenness of our sinful world and God’s ultimate plan of redemption, but simply knowing that someone else (especially a leader) had struggled with some of the same questions she was asking made a huge difference.
If you are ministering to teenage girls, then you know they have a lot of questions. Not only are they being raised in the midst of unprecedented times in our culture, but they are living with near constant access to worldwide news. They see and know far more current information than any generation before them and it’s left them looking for answers to some big questions. So as those who are called to love and minster to them, how can we help?
First, encourage questions. God isn’t afraid of their questions so we don’t have to be either. While their questions may stump us, they will never stump God. Sadly, I’ve found that teenage girls (especially those who have grown up in church) think that God will be mad at them for questioning Him. They’re worried He will be disappointed in their lack of faith or trust in Him. But just as Jesus treated Thomas with compassion when he doubted His resurrection, Jesus treats our questions with compassion too (John 20:24-29). In fact, Jesus told us in Matthew that just a mustard seed of faith is enough to move mountains (Matt. 17:20). That means even if your heart is full of questions with only a mustard seed of faith left then that’s more than enough for God to work through. So encourage girls to ask questions when they have them rather than stuffing them away or ignoring them. Even if the answer is “I don’t know” sometimes just asking the question is more helpful than getting an answer.
Second, be a lifelong learner. No matter how much Bible knowledge you have, it’s impossible to have all the answers. In fact, the only one without questions is the very one who created it all. So while you should never feel the pressure to have all the answers, never stop learning more and more about God and His Word. This is particularly important when it comes to hot topics in today’s culture. As leaders in the Church, it’s important for us to seek God’s heart on things like gender identity, racial issues, and other important topics so that we can share educated, informed, and biblically based truth when important conversations come up with the teenagers in our lives.
Finally, stand firm on the goodness of God. In the face of hard questions, there is nothing more important than trusting the goodness of God, even above our own understanding. Similarly, when we address cultural hot topics with the teenagers in our lives, it’s crucial to rely upon the ultimate goodness of God and His love for us as His children. While we may never know all of the answers or understand all of God’s ways, we can trust that His ways are higher and His goodness is unchangeable (Isa. 55:8-9, Ps. 100:5). Teaching the teenage girls that have been entrusted into our spiritual care about the goodness of God is the best way to address all the hot topics and hard questions they are facing now as well as those to come.
Ultimately, it’s not just teenagers who have to face cultural hot topics and hard questions. Even as adults, we have to face them too. While using discernment, don’t be afraid to let those you’re leading know you have questions too and you’re still learning with them. Just like the girl I counseled at camp was comforted to know she wasn’t alone, the teenagers in your life will be encouraged by your authenticity and sincerity. In the end, sometimes it’s our biggest questions that God uses to draw us closer to Him than ever—not by giving us the answer right away, but by teaching us to seek Him in the unknown.
Taylor Cage is a Nashville native, currently living in Oklahoma City with her husband, Baron, who serves as a student pastor at Trinity Baptist Church. After college, she spent three years as a Girls Minister and she’s passionate about building gospel-centered community among women of all ages. Taylor is the Social Media Coordinator for Well-Watered Women and a regular contributor for the Lifeway Girls blog. Most days you can find her writing about God’s Word with a cup of coffee in hand or chasing around her Goldendoodle, Posie. Connect with Taylor: Instagram