Thank you for your great question.
When it comes to answering questions or even raising questions, context is of utmost importance. So, in this case, I would start there. The context in which we find ourselves will help shape and instruct how we raise or answer questions.
In other words, the art and science of apologetics not only requires strong iq (knowing what Christianity says to the big questions of life) but also eq (having relational awareness and sensitivity.) As friend, mentor and president of RZIM Michael Ramsden often says: “The right answer to the wrong questions is always wrong.” We might have a great question to raise or a great answer to give, but if we get the context/audience wrong, the answer will be wrong.
That is just a preamble, but I think still vital to understanding how to create meaningful and long-lasting conversations with children.
More than ever, especially for our age in which everyone seems to be rushing to the microphone, we need to listen. What we find in children is actually intrinsic to what it means to be a person. And what is it that kids long for? In a word: attention. Asking questions is one way of giving attention to them. The next step is not necessarily answering their questions but perhaps asking a question in response to find out what they are really asking. One other important ingredient of giving attention is listening. Really listening.
Ask specific/particular questions.
In my experience, both from speaking to children and in raising our children, my wife and I have found that asking general but also specific questions are important to having meaningful conversations. For instance, last night, I was reading the story of David and Goliath to three of our children. Midway through the crescendo of the storyline, I stopped and went into fine detail of what David might have felt in that moment when he was about to face Goliath.
(important sidenote: when telling children Bible stories, it is crucial that we somehow recover the profundity/truth of the story from over-familiarity.) Sometimes, familiarity (not necessarily a flat disinterest) can be the enemy to understanding biblical truths.)
One way of getting into the deeper truth of the story is the found in asking questions. For instance, I have asked questions like “Why do you think people were afraid of Goliath?” “What do you think about/what do you do when you are afraid?” “Do you think Jesus is with you when you are afraid?” “If so, how do you know God is with you?”
Encouraging children to ask questions.
The other night when I was reading a Bible story to my kids, one of the younger kids asked a question to which an older child blew it off as being a silly question. I immediately responded and said, “Actually, that is a good question. It is not as obvious to others as it might be to you.” We should never discourage questions. I looked at my little girl and said 'honey, never stop asking questions." We need to encourage children, whether they be ours or children to whom we are ministering, to keep asking questions.
Three levels of Communication: Argue, Illustrate, Apply (Ravi Zacharias)
I believe it is found in Beyond Opinion and also A Shattered Visage (without having it on-hand, I believe this is found in Appendix 1 or Appendix 2 of ASV), where Ravi Zacharias outlines three stages of communication. I have found that outline enormously helpful. In a nutshell, persuasive communication happens at three levels.
a)Argument (this tends to be the more philosophical or logical level.
b)Illustrate (this tends to be the spot where we tell stories. Film/art/music communicate at this level.
c)Apply (This is where we apply the argument and illustrate levels to everyday life. It is here where we zoom in on ‘what does this mean for me right now?’
I hope this helps. This is a great question you’ve asked. I have only offered a start.