Youth ministry, student ministry, youth group, youth pastor, tough questions

The Toughest Question a Student Ever Asked (Part 1)

By Guest Contributor August 25, 2014

Over the next few weeks, the LeaderTreks Blog will be running a series of posts addressing the tough questions students ask and the best ways ministry workers should respond. To kick off the series, we asked several youth ministry leaders to share with us the most difficult question a student ever asked them. I think you’ll find their responses both thoughtful and humble. When you’re done, be sure to read Part 2. –Kyle Rohane, Former Editor at LeaderTreks


“What should I say to my sister who just came out as gay?”

Leneita Fix, Co-founder of Frontline Urban Resources and Training and Recruiting Coordinator at Bow Down Church in West Palm Beach, Florida

“My sister is gay,” she said. “We visited another church as a family, and the pastor told her she had to stop being gay or she couldn’t come anymore. I’m afraid my sister is going to be rejected by every church she attends and will walk away from Christ forever because she is trying to figure out her sexual identity. What should I say to her?”

As we sat in my car talking about this young woman’s concern for her sister, my first reaction was simply to pray—actually, plead—for wisdom from the Lord. I had talked with students about sexual identity over the years, but this was different. I knew I had to say something. First, I let this young woman know that she and her sister were deeply loved. I thanked her for her vulnerability. It was very brave of her to ask such a personal question, and I was honored that she trusted me with it. Next, we had a discussion about the difference between the universal church and local bodies of believers. I was honest—not every local church would welcome her sister’s questions. They are hard to answer.

tough ? quote1Finally, we talked about sin: what it is, what it isn’t, and how the Lord feels about it. None of us are good enough to connect with God in relationship on our own. We need Jesus and his sacrificial salvation. Is her sister a sinner? Yes. But so is every person, including me. Would her sister decide to pursue the Lord and his will? That’s between her and God. But she and her sister would have a place in our group, always. And there, they would be encouraged to ask the hard questions, because the Lord can handle them.

I don’t know if that was the best answer I could have given. But I do know this young woman and her sister kept coming. Sometimes all we can do is present our students with the truth in deep love, and trust God to take care of his sheep.


“Why did you watch a movie containing explicit content?”

Joel Mayward, Pastor of Youth and Young Adult Ministries at North Langley Community Church in Langley, British Columbia

About a year ago, I watched the film Spring Breakers. I had read some positive reviews from Christian film critics who praised the film’s imagery, intense performances, and unique direction. I love independent and daring movies, so when the film appeared on Netflix, I clicked “play.”

After the first nude scene, I nearly turned the movie off. But I thought to myself, Maybe it will get better. It didn’t. I skipped through most of the movie in fast forward, stopping briefly at scenes that seemed okay. Spring Breakers was filled with unnecessary nudity, sex, drugs, alcohol, crude language, and violence. Afterward, I spoke to my wife about it. I felt suckered by those positive reviews. This was not a film I ever needed to see.

You can imagine my horror when a high school student in my youth group asked if I had seen Spring Breakers. The look on my face answered his question—I had seen it, and he should not watch it. Then he asked the question I was dreading: “So, why did you watch it?”

After a deep breath and a quick prayer for wisdom, I was honest with him, as I had been with my wife. I admitted that I had made a poor decision. I should have turned it off, but I made mental excuses so I could finish it. I told him I was a fool for watching the movie, and I didn’t want him to be a fool like me. Yet God still loves fools, because his grace in Christ surpasses our sinful decisions. The student looked at me quietly and nodded. He knew that I cared enough about him to share my weaknesses so he wouldn’t make the same mistake. He didn’t watch Spring Breakers. We’re both wiser for it.


“Why doesn’t God respond more quickly?”

Doug Franklin, President of LeaderTreks in Carol Stream, Illinois

Once, as I was talking with a small group of students, a girl told me she couldn’t believe in God. I asked why. “I need a 30-second God,” she said. “I want to follow God, but my life is moving too fast. God never gets back to me fast enough.” Then she asked me, “Why doesn’t God respond more quickly?”

She wanted a God she could ktough ? quote2eep locked in a drawer, but she needed a God bigger than the universe. So I tried to give her a bigger vision of God. I explained that he could see things she couldn’t. Our timetable is flawed, but his is perfect. Yet her question was getting at something deeper, something more personal. “God wants you to trust him,” I said. “What’s more important: easy answers or God’s promise to care for you no matter what? By asking you to wait, he is transforming you into his disciple. As you learn patience and wait on him, you will give Christ more and more control over your life. And who is better equipped than him to lead you in the right direction?”


“Do Christians have to be perfect?”

Nate Dalke, English Teacher at Oasis de Esperanza Christian School in Managua, Nicaragua

One time in college, a student stopped by my apartment while I was taking a nap. He knocked, I got up, and soon we were talking about the ins and outs of following God. In the middle of our discussion, he said, “At least we don’t have to be perfect, right?” My answer was quick: “Actually, according to Matthew 5:48, we are called to be perfect as God is perfect.”

In hindsight, I regret that self-righteous answer. I’ve since studied that verse more closely. The word we translate as “perfect” also means “mature.” And the parallel passage in Luke says, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (6:36). I wish I’d shown more maturity in that conversation. I wish I’d been more merciful with my answer. Sure, we’re called to perfection, and God will bring us there one day (Phil. 1:6). But for now we’re called to “walk in wisdom” (Prov. 28:26) with those who need a reminder that salvation comes from Christ’s mercy, not from our own “works of righteousness” (Titus 3:5).

Read about more tough student questions in PART 2.

CC Image courtesy of Annielogue on Wikimedia.


About the Author

Guest Contributor

The LeaderTreks Blog is proud to share the hard-earned wisdom of student ministry leaders from many different backgrounds and professions. From time to time, we will feature guest blog posts from writers other than our regular contributors. We include these posts to provide additional perspectives and insight that we’re sure will help develop you and your ministry…  Read More