Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith has been out almost 6 months now! During this time, I’ve had the opportunity to hear from many wonderful parents who wanted to share all they learned from the book with friends…so they formed small groups to read and discuss it (some have even taught whole church classes on it!). I’ve been so encouraged to hear how inspired and motivated parents have been to share their knowledge.
Along the way, many people have also emailed me to ask how to best use the material in my book in a small group or church setting. With fall around the corner, and many new small groups/classes forming, I thought it was a great time to offer a guide on how to do this—and hopefully get you thinking about how YOU can make an important difference in the spiritual lives of the families you know.
- part of an existing small group looking for new material to discuss;
- interested in forming a brand new group or class to encourage fellow parents to get better equipped for Christian parenting in a secular world;
- a youth minister in need of discussion ideas for youth nights;
- or a pastor wanting to form small groups around this critical subject…
…Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side is a great resource for getting your group talking! Here’s how you can use it.
1. Reach out to some parents you’d like to study with (if you’re already in a group, skip this step).
Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side is appropriate for parents with kids of any age, so invite anyone you would enjoy learning with! The book is written for both moms and dads, so you could form a group of couples, a group of moms, or a group of dads—whatever you feel most comfortable with. The ideal size of a small group is 6-15 committed participants.
If you’d like a note you can put into an email for your invitations, you can work with this:
“Hey! I’m interested in starting a small group of parents this fall to read and discuss a new book called Keeping Your Kids on God’s Side: 40 Conversations to Help Them Build a Lasting Faith. The book is all about the fact that our culture is becoming increasingly hostile to Christianity, and how that will challenge our kids’ faith. Each of the 40 chapters explains a specific challenge that our kids will hear from skeptics and offers an easy-to-understand answer from a Christian perspective that you can discuss with your kids (chapters are only about 5 pages each). For example, some of the chapter titles are: What evidence is there for God’s existence? How could a good God allow evil and suffering? Do all religions point to the same truth? Did Jesus really claim to be God? How can Christians believe miracles are even possible? Does the Bible have errors and contradictions? How do we know the Bible we have today says what the authors originally wrote? There are also several chapters that discuss what kids should understand about age of the Earth and evolution questions. You can see the full table of contents and read Amazon reviews here: https://www.amazon.com/Keeping-Your-Kids-Gods-Side/dp/0736965084/.”
End your note with information on when you’d like to start, how many weeks you’d like to meet, and how much reading will be required (see below).
2. Decide how many weeks you want to meet and select chapters to discuss accordingly.
If you read one chapter per group meeting, that’s 40 weeks…longer than most groups can stay motivated to stick together and read a single book. I recommend planning to meet for either 10 or 12 weeks. If you start in early September, 10 weeks will take you until just before Thanksgiving. With 12 weeks, you can finish at the end of November.
With 10 weeks, you could theoretically have people read 4 chapters per week and then discuss the key points from all the readings. However, each chapter has much to discuss, so it’s best to only do 1-2 chapters per week. You won’t cover the whole book, but you can still get a lot out of your discussions (you could always do a follow-up group starting in January to do more!). Many people have asked for pointers on which subset of chapters I recommend if you can’t do all of them, so here you go:
- If you are covering 10 chapters (10 weeks/1 chapter per week), I recommend: Chapters 1, 8, 10, 20, 21, 23, 24, 27, 28, and 33.
- If you are covering 12 chapters (12 weeks/1 chapter per week), I recommend adding Chapters 2 and 4 to the above list.
- If you are covering 20 chapters (10 weeks/2 chapters per week), I recommend adding the following chapters to the 12-chapter plan: Chapters 9, 12, 18, 25, 26, and either 34-36 (if your group is interested in age of the Earth questions) or 37-39 (if your group is more interested in evolution questions).
- If you are covering 24 chapters (12 weeks/2 chapters per week), I recommend adding the following chapters to the 20-chapter plan: 6, 15, 22, and 30.
Parents are busy and many can be reluctant to read. If you’re doing 1 chapter per week, emphasize when you reach out to people that it’s only about 5 pages per week! And for 2 chapters, it’s just 10 pages per week.
3. Make it easy on yourself: Use a similar structure each week to lead your discussions.
If you haven’t led a group before, it might sound like way more work than it needs to be. You can, of course, take the time to come up with discussion questions specific to each chapter, but you don’t have to do that to have great conversations. To make it easier, try using the same format each week. You can use the following as your discussion guide:
- Why do you think this week’s question is something skeptics like to challenge Christians on?
- Where have you seen this subject come up (directly or indirectly) in popular media (the news, movies, books, etc.)?
- Is this a subject you personally find challenging? Why or why not?
- If your child asked you this chapter’s question, how would you respond (explain at a level appropriate for their age)?
- What was your biggest takeaway from this week’s reading? Why?
- What questions, if any, do you still have on this subject?
- If the group is willing, ask each parent to bring up the topic with their kids during the week and have an introductory-level conversation based on the chapter content (this is, after all, the point of the book!). Start each meeting going forward with a discussion of how the conversations went.
I hope this encourages you to consider starting a group or teaching a class! Questions? Let me know in the comments.