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The point behind the questions in this book is to get teenagers to take a deeper look at who they are and what they believe. Many of the questions are just plain fun, and some are even a little silly. Other questions are extremely serious, raising issues that many teenagers (and adults, for that matter) currently face.
Have fun with these questions! Change them, play with them, and add details to them--in short, use them as points of departure, and let your imagination go. The only stipulation is that the questions are not to be answered with a simple yes or no. Rather, allow the questions to be a springboard into memories, thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
Some of the questions will stretch students, some will push them out of their comfort zones, others will offer difficult choices. This book offers you and your students many opportunities to remember past incidents as well as to project yourselves into hypothetical situations. Don't be afraid of the questions. Encourage teens to reminisce, to imagine, to dream. A question can become an adventure!
A few tips:
Use this book on long drives when you a need to break the tension and get conversation going.
Code your favorite questions. For example, put F next to funny questions that you know will get a laugh. Write D next to questions that might cause your group to go deeper into conversation. Put HT next to hot topics that have the potential to generate heated debate.
Be wise about what questions to ask. If a student is known to get bad grades, it may be inappropriate to ask, "Have you ever gotten straight A's?" Be extremely sensitive with questions having to do with appearance. Carefully assess a question's potential impact on certain students.
Use the questions within relationships where there is a high level of trust or within small groups whose members feel comfortable expressing thoughts and feelings to each other. Encourage teens to wrestle verbally with one another over how each person came to his or her conclusions. It is surprising how often someone we think we know will respond to a question in a way that we would never have predicted. Part of the enjoyment is discovering others' journeys as they come up with their responses--especially their responses to the follow-up questions. Encourage teens to talk about the process they went through in determining their answers.
Take this book with you for a solo journey. Get away for an hour, a day, or a weekend by yourself. Find a comfortable place where you will not be disturbed and dive into the questions. You may want to record some of your thoughts to look at later or to share with a friend.
At the end of each "Have You Ever...?" question are a few follow-up questions designed to help you and your students explore the ramifications of each question. There are no wrong answers, so encourage teenagers to let their minds wander and explore all the possibilities. Before they come up with their answers, brainstorm all the possible ways to approach each question. Don't evaluate answers at this point. Merely be creative and have fun with all the options. Pose other questions, like--
• -What if you had been in a different mood, place, or time? Would you have still come to the same conclusion? Why or why not?
• -What if you had been with different people? How might they have affected your decision? Does the Bible have anything to say about this question?
• -What would Jesus have done if he were faced with the same set of circumstances? Why?
• -What would your parents have done? Why?
• -What would your minister, youth minister, youth sponsors, or teachers have done? Why?
• -What would Billy Graham or Mother Theresa have done? Why?
May this book bring back many pleasant memories for you and your students, and may it provide openings for you to know one another more deeply.
Posted January 23, 2011