Answering the Five Most Difficult Questions for Pastors

A feature on written by Joe Iovino recently caught our attention here at Cokesbury. This piece detailed several types of questions pastors receive but have a difficult time answering. While we can’t answer all of life’s questions, we hope that our resources can help. Here are books and studies that might ease the process of answering each of these difficult questions.


Out of the mouths of babes

“Some of the toughest questions pastors receive come from the youngest members of their congregations.”

Seven Things John Wesley Expected Us to Do for Kids by Christopher Miles Ritter

I Wonder by Elizabeth Caldwell

Three Simple Questions for Children

What Do We Tell the Children? by Joseph M. Primo

Passing it On by Kara Oliver


Right or wrong?

“Pastors are sometimes asked about offering grace toward those with whom we disagree. Topics in the news generate questions about responding to those with a different point of view.”

Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White by Adam Hamilton

When Christians Get it Wrong by Adam Hamilton

A Fellowship of Differents by Scot McKnight

The Trouble with the Truth by Rob Renfroe

First Corinthians: Living Love When We Disagree by Melissa Spoelstra


How can we…?

“The hardest questions I get as a pastor are the practical how-to questions in which people are looking for easy program solutions to what are often societal, cultural, and relational problems.”

Passionate Church by Mike Slaughter and Karen Perry Smith

Fear of the Other by William H. Willimon

Race in a Post-Obama America by David Maxwell

Public Faith in Action by Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz

See, Know & Serve the People Within Your Reach by Thomas G. Bandy


Unasked questions

“I think some of the hardest questions are the ones pastors never get. For example, countering the rampant culture of ‘everything happens for a reason’ mentality that skips over the really difficult questions of theodicy.”

Ask by Scott J. Jones and Arthur D. Jones

Half Truths by Adam Hamilton

Making Sense of the Bible by Adam Hamilton

Reading the Bible Again for the First Time by Marcus J. Borg

Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? by Brian D. McLaren



“Why does God allow cancer, poverty, hunger, war, natural disaster, or any of the other evils we experience?”

The Will of God by Leslie D. Weatherhead

Why? by Adam Hamilton

When Grief Breaks Your Heart by James W. Moore

God in Pain by Barbara Brown Taylor

When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner