I have an occasional (very occasional!) segment called “Good Question!” where I take a stab at questions people send me. Click here for previous “Good Question!” posts. (The link will take you to another blog of mine.) In the last few weeks 3 students in Eileen Flynn’s journalism class have contacted me about various topics they’ve chosen for writing projects. I think the topics would make 3 worthwhile “Good Question!” posts. Names aren’t necessary, so I’ve removed them. Here’s one:
Hello Pastor Goodman,
I was directed to you by Eileen Flynn, the former religion reporter from the Statesman, I am a student in her Journalism and Religion class at UT.
I am writing a story for her class on the new “Openly Secular” campaign and I was wondering if you could briefly explain what you would do if/when you had a member of your congregation come to you and tell you they were doubting or questioning their faith? What do you tell them and what is your normal process for helping them?
Thanks for writing, C*. In answer to your question, I would visit with them and ask about their story. In other words, I’d want to hear what they feel is the source of their faith struggles. I might suggest some resources for them to look at on their own—likely Tim Keller’s The Reason for God or C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity, or I’d give them a copy of my book, The Anchor Course: Exploring Christianity Together. I’d probably follow up with them in a few weeks after they had worked through some of this material.
The process I use when talking with people who are considering entering the faith is pretty much the same process I use when talking with people who are considering exiting it: Listen to their life accounts, treat their questions with respect, let them know there are solid resources to address their doubts. Friendships/relationships do not change based upon what they do with the faith, though naturally I’m convinced that there’s substantial worth in coming to Jesus and staying with him.
Hope that helps. Let me know if you need to follow up by phone or email.