'Intellectual wrestlers': equipping kids who need to know
In episode 31 of the podcast, Rachel answers a question from a mum whose teenage child is struggling with the question of 'Does God exist?', triggered by what they are learning in school and the world about religions and belief.
As part of her answer, Rachel talks about children whose are 'intellectual wrestlers', children who are wired to connect best with God through a deepening and broadening of their understanding of who he is and what the Bible says. Not every child is like this, but some are, and even for those who have a vibrant one to one connection with God, not being able to understand or defend their beliefs intellectually can shake their faith. Some children, including many on the autistic spectrum, struggle with imagining or believing in an invisible God and they may find it easier to connect with him through exploring and understanding the Bible.
Parents and carers may feel anxious about how to support their child if they have lots of questions and need answers, particularly if they are not wired that way themselves, and may feel an unnecessary pressure to be able to meet this need themselves. Rachel suggests four ways parents and carers can equip their 'intellectual wrestlers' to explore their questions:
- Let them know that it's okay for them to have so many questions or need to know the answers: it's how God has wired them and part of how they connect with him. (You might want to reassure your child that the body of Christ needs people like this to be theologians, preachers and apologists.)
- If this isn't the way you are wired, don't feel you need to able to answer all their questions.
- Facilitate them to find the answers they need, pointing them to books, websites, people and places they can go to discover more.
- Connect them with intellectual wrestlers at church or others you know so they can learn from their experiences and have someone to journey with them.
Here are some resources you might find useful as you equip your intellectual wrestler!
- There's a really helpful article here from the Theology & Apologetics Editor for Premier, Justin Brierley, which parents and carers may find reassuring!
- The Case for Christ for Kids by Lee Strobel (also available in student and adult editions, plus other 'Case for ... ' titles)
- Michelle Tepper, an apologist with RZIM Ministries, has started posting short videos for kids answering big questions such as 'How do we know Jesus was real' and 'Why do we trust the Bible' on her instagram account.
- Sticky Faith have produced two books for teenagers called 'Can I Ask That' and 'Can I Ask That 2'. Designed for use with a leader they can also be used at home to help teens explore some of the biggest questions about Christianity, the Bible and God.
- The Ology by Marty Machowski: a beautifully illustrated and presented introduction to biblical theology for children
- The What is God Like series by Dr Craig
- The What's In The Bible CDs from Phil Vischer contain great snippets of easily accessible theology for kids (and their grown ups!)
- The Zacharias Trust ('helping the thinker believe and the believer think'). hosts the Reboot conferences, described as 'an interactive day for 12-18s to ask their big questions about God'. They also have a YouTube channel with over 150 videos tackling big questions.
- Louis Giglio has published two books of devotions for kids which explore God and science: Indescribable and How Great is Our God
- The Bible Project has many videos and other resources explaining key Biblical ideas and enabling people to understand the Bible and its big story.
The following resources are aimed at students and adults, but may be just what your young person might enjoy:
- The Godpod is a monthly podcast tackling all sorts of subjects from a theological perspective
- Bethinking.org is a website from UCCF which is full of audio, video and written resources equipping students to explore big questions. Bethinking have launched a page to resource 14-18 year olds, looking at the same material which you can find here.
- The One Minute Apologist presents short and accessible apologetics videos.