A good teacher encourages learners to ask questions, but sometimes a question may arise that is difficult to answer. The Lord has commanded, “Treasure up in your minds continually the words of life,” and “declare whatsoever thing ye declare … in the spirit of meekness.” His promise is that when you do these things, you will receive “in the very moment, what ye shall say” (D&C 84:85; 100:6–7).
Prepare in Advance
As you prepare to teach, pray for help to identify questions that might arise in the minds of class members. Search the scriptures and other Church resources, and consider how you might respond. Remember that the best preparation comes from seeking the Lord’s help.
Questions to ponder. As I think about my next teaching opportunity, what difficult questions might learners have? What can I do to prepare?
Scriptural example. How does the promise in 2 Nephi 32:3 relate to me as a teacher?
Refer to Official Church Resources
The best sources for answers to difficult gospel questions are the scriptures, the words of living prophets, and other official Church publications. For example, the Church has published Gospel Topics essays to help answer questions about Church history and controversial issues (see lds.org/topics). Become familiar with official Church resources, and encourage those who have questions to study them as well.
Questions to ponder. What questions have my class members asked in the past? What Church resources can help them?
Scriptural example. How can I follow the counsel in Doctrine and Covenants 88:118?
Invite Learners to Help Answer Questions
In many cases, it may be appropriate to invite learners to help each other find answers to their questions. When prompted by the Spirit, you may decide to do this even if you feel that you know the answer. When you ask learners to search the scriptures and other Church resources for answers to gospel questions, you provide them with excellent learning opportunities.
Question to ponder. Who in my class could provide helpful insights if a difficult question arose?
Scriptural example. How can I follow the pattern in Doctrine and Covenants 88:122 as I help learners find answers to questions?
See also the video “Answering a Class Member’s Question” (LDS.org).
Admit When You Do Not Know
It should not surprise you that there are some unanswered gospel questions; the answers to some difficult questions have yet to be revealed. While it is natural to want to answer every question, in some situations it is appropriate to simply say, “I don’t know. Let’s study that question on our own this week, and we can discuss it next time.” In such situations, point learners back to the more important gospel truths that we do know, such as the Savior’s Atonement, the plan of salvation, and priesthood power. Bear your testimony of the essential principles of the gospel. Help learners understand Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s declaration, “In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know.”1
Question to ponder. What can I do to build faith in those who have unanswered gospel questions?
Scriptural example. What do I learn from the following scriptures about unanswered gospel questions? Isaiah 55:8–9; John 16:12; 2 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Nephi 11:16–17; Doctrine and Covenants 101:32–33; Moses 5:6; Articles of Faith 1:9.
For the Discussion Leader
Share and counsel together. Begin by inviting teachers to share recent teaching experiences and ask questions related to teaching. Strive to create an environment where teachers feel comfortable and safe when asking questions.
Learn together. Invite teachers to discuss one or more of the ideas in this section.
Practice. Before the meeting, invite teachers to bring difficult gospel questions they have heard from those they teach. As a group, discuss appropriate ways to respond to these questions.
Prepare. Decide together on a topic for the next meeting, and invite teachers to prepare.