I have been learning a lot about not answering people’s questions! By either just allowing questions to be asked and/or saying “The Bible will help answer that, keep reading,” or “later stories will answer that.”
I have discovered that when we don’t answer it allows important questions to linger in people’s minds and they keep chewing them over. So when we do answer the question, “What questions might someone have about this story?” then we generate up to 20 questions (see leading discussion about a story for more details). Some of the questions might be unanswerable but that is no bad thing either. For example, in the healing of Blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52). Why does Bartimaeus call Jesus, ‘Son of David?’ and “ how has he heard about Jesus previously and so why does he use this particular name? We might have some answers but as the text doesn’t say definitely then they are just possible answers. However, thinking about these questions gives us a growing sense of wonder at how God works in people’s lives and an awareness that He does far more work than we are aware. It is a reminder to keep praying that God will work like that in our friend’s lives.
When 20 questions are generated you’ll discover that one or two questions will linger in each person’s hearts. Often we will think about those for several weeks or months and the process will result in our growth.
While on a weekend storying camp in the Blue Mountains of Australia, we learned the creation story. I asked, “Do you think it is significant that the Creation story has ‘and there was evening and morning’ and not what we’d more naturally say, ‘there was morning and evening?'” The next day a man in his 60’s came bounding up to me and said, “I think I’ve thought of something. I think that we always see things from our point of view but the whole point of life is to learn to see things from His point of view. From His point of view the darkness was there and He created light and in fact, is Light. After darkness comes life and hope, so that is the way it should be said.”
Relax and enjoy the fact that you don’t need to be able to answer people’s questions!
- Those in Western ‘post-modern’ societies often like the sense of wonder and mystery that comes from unanswered questions, and feel annoyed with those who seem to have all the answers.
- If the questions are related to meanings of words like ‘synagogue’, ‘Sabbath,’ or ‘Rabbi’ you might choose to either put in an equivalent word ‘Jewish place of worship,’ or ‘day of rest’ or ‘teacher’ into your story or even better, explain these words before your story in the introduction.