Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit (A Homeschool Crew Review)
As the mother of three children, we often worry how to help bridge the transition between childhood and young adulthood. This is especially scare to families of the Christian faith as we worry about what affects the influences of today's society will have on them during such a difficult time. From the programming on television, music lyrics popular with today's youth and even pictures found daily on social media, it's hard for a child to transition without some negative influence. This is especially true with boys who often find that certain negative behaviors are expected by their peers, behaviors that go against the Biblical teachings that we have tried to instill in them in their younger years.
City on a Hill Studios is a non-denominational, non profit ministry who’s goal is to bring Biblical teaching to a media-driven culture in ways in which they can easily understand. Through cinematic productions, small group studies and book publications, City on a Hill hopes to use real-life experiences to help use modern stories to teach God’s word. Our family had already been familiar with City on a Hill Studios as we have taken part in other studies that they have produced, such as "Not a Fan", "Gods at War", "H2O" as well as the Christmas Experience and the Easter Experience. Included in the Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit is the Embarking 1 on 1 guide, the Embarking Group guide to be used for small group studies, 10 Maprochures, and a DVD that includes introductions for each of the 5 modules for the complete Manhood Journey series. Also included in the kit was a paperback copy of the book Wise Guys: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You written by Kent Evans with Rob Suggs.
Packaged together in a book sized box, the Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit included everything needed to either use this program as a one on one study between a father and son or as a small study group. The Embarking module consisting of 6 weeks of study designed for a male role model to introduce the five key areas focused on throughout the Manhood Journey series. During each week of study, father (or any male role model) and son work through the Embarking 1 on 1 guide, studying scripture, completing activities and discussing what the Bible expects in order to be Godly men. For larger groups, the Embarking Group Guide helps to guide the leader through group discussions and homework assignments during a weekly small group setting. For this review, I will focus almost exclusively on the 1 on 1 guide. Because this kit is designed for Small Group studies in addition to the 1 on 1 guide, the additional components such as the second guide and the maglogs are geared for the small group aspect of the study. For those interested in using this for a small group through a church or men's bible study, the Group Study guide covers the same key points as the 1 on 1 guide but is worded and arranged for leader to guide a group meeting once a week and then allows for participants to accomplish the same assignments as "homework" between meetings. The included Maplogues show the suggested pathway in which to complete each of the 6 modules and includes a space to mark the time and dates for a physical reminder of group meetings for participants. The Embarking Module is the beginning of the Manhood journey and sets the groundwork needed to work through each of the other 5 modules. It focuses on the five "rocks" that a young man needs in his life to build a solid foundations for his journey to become a man of God - 1. Trust God 2. Know his Word 3. Pray fervently 4. Build relationships and 5. Serve others.
While entitled as the One on One guide, this program can easily be used at one time by families who have more than one boy and also is not limited to only the Biological father of the boy - any man who fills the role of a "father figure" can use this program and share it's teaching regardless of their relationship to the boy. Embarking is divided into 6 week long studies
Week 1: Preparing for the Journey
Week 2: Setting out on the Journey
Week 3: Relying on the Compass
Week 4: Seeking Guidance Along the Way
Week 5: Encountering Others Along the Journey
Week 6: We Have Embarked
Each week's lesson focuses on four main sections.
First is the BUILDING section. Many times, fathers and sons live in the same household but in the course of the day, they rarely speak more than a handful of words to each other. The Building section is the time the father spends with the child, asking questions and actively listening to the way the child answers the questions and actually getting to know each other on a personal level. begins with a section entitled "A Word to Dad" that helps to set the tone of the week and to help the father to think about the material that will be presented to the child ahead of time. Open ended questions are also provided to be asked to the child to help facilitate a discussion that draws the child into the lesson. Also included are tips for listening to help make the child feel that they are as much a part of the program as the "teacher", rather than just being lectured to.
The second section is the KNOWING section. This part of the week focuses on memorizing scripture, studying what the meaning behind the scripture is and learning how to both the father and the son might apply the message that can be learned from the scripture in their own lives.
The SERVING section teaches the duo how to serve others. As Christians, we are expected to be servants and to be an example of Christ's love to those around us - to be the Salt and Light in today's world. This section takes the knowledge learned in the previous Knowing section and makes the participants think about how they can incorporate it into actions that can have an impact on the community around them.
Finally, the lesson ends with the TALKING section of the lesson. While the father and son have spent the week talking with each other, it's time for them to actually to talk with God. Children who watch their parents pray learn how to do so themselves and spending time talking with God is one of the most important things we can do in our Spiritual journey. During this time, the father and son spend time in prayer talking with God about what they have been learning together, thanking him for their time together and asking for help as they progress through the Manhood Journey together.
How We Used It
My husband is still new in his faith and while I would not call myself much of a Spiritual leader, I did find that my input was needed on a number of occasions. What worked best for us is that my husband and I would sit down together at night, after the kids were in bed, and we could go over each lesson together and read it together. Then we would be able to discuss what the focus of each lesson was and how it would be best for my husband to approach it with our son. Since I stay at home with Garrett homeschooling him each day and my husband works, I was at a bit of an advantage in being able to know ways in which my husband could engage him and approach him in a way that he would understand best. This also allowed for great time for my husband and I to discuss his own spirituality and growth.
After going over the materials together the night before, my husband would then spend a bit of time with our son to work through the lessons. As mentioned above, the lessons are divided up into week long segments, which can be done at one time with older boys or spread out over the course of the week for younger ones. In our case, we used the entire week, having short discussions and activities that worked well for my son's short attention span.
One thing I noticed is that within a couple of weeks, Garrett was reaching out to his father more than he had in the past. Typically, both kids follow me around the house, ask me everything that pops into their minds and really don't interact with their father that much. It's not that Dad doesn't have time for them, but more that they spend most of their time with me and so I'm the "go to" for them. However, I began noticing Garrett going to his father more than he was coming to me. If Charles left the house to run a quick errand, Garrett would wait for him to return and ask me where Dad went. He also began to engage his father into more conversations, even about random things like his video games or to show him a build he made with his erector set.
I've noticed changes in my husband as well. He's more engaged with all of the kids lately, engaging in more conversations in regards to their Bible lessons and Ashleigh's AWANA activities. He has also been more engaged with me in discussions about the Bible and wanting to learn more about the Scripture.
We've still got a few weeks left before Charles and Garrett complete the Embarking module of the Manhood Journey. Once completed, I'll probably buy the second 1 on 1 guide book for the "Clean Hearts" module.
To learn more about City on a Hill Studios or the Manhood Journey study series, please visit their website or one of their social media sites;