Leader Survival Guide

Everything you need to get started.

This handy reference document gives you everything you need to get started. It covers some “Do’s & Don’t’s,” provides guidance on location, timing and discussion flow. It can also help you form your group and get started off on the best possible path for success. It also reveals the secret to getting your young boys to actually want to take a shower and doles out some rock solid investment tips (not really).

The leader guide is chock-full of tips and suggestions on how to start and lead your group. So, what’s keeping you from jumping in with your son and leading a group?

Here are some excerpts from the Leader Survival Guide.

The main point – get back together.

The goal of the Manhood Journey groups is to have a group of fathers and sons who continue to meet over some span of time – perhaps as long as several years. Consider some of the following techniques to ensure that your group gains and keeps momentum along the journey.

An eye toward disciple-making.

While there are no firm rules on the makeup of your group, we want to introduce a discipling component into these groups. Ideally, the group will have 2-3 guys who are mature in their walk and/or have some pre-existing relationships with other men. This should be an ideal setting for guys with various levels of time in the faith or at the fatherhood helm to mix with and learn from each other.

Picking some trail guides.

Each Group needs a clear leader so everyone knows who is in charge (and who to blame when there are no cookies). This person needs to call the group to order, keep conversation going, etc. However, that leader should not try to fly solo entirely. Find one or two of the dads who you trust and ask them to play key roles in the group’s formation and administration. They are critical to the group’s success.

The numbers game.

The goal is to have 5-7 dads there every week, with at least one son per dad. So, working backwards, you/your co-leaders will need to invite 12-15. Don’t get discouraged if your first few contacts do not jump in. Keep on plugging until you have invited about one dozen. If you have worked through a dozen guys and they all said no, read the book How to Win Friends and Influence People. Then, re-invite them with your new-found interpersonal savvy.

Guides and Lessons.

A Lesson = one hour’s worth of discussion content. A Guide = 6 lessons that fit together on a topic (work, leadership, etc.).

Boys’ age ranges.

The guide are built with boys ages 8-15 in mind. We recognize that an 8-year-old usually has different challenges and discussion capabilities than a 15-year-old (here’s hoping). However, don’t over-think this. We have seen groups work very well even with a wider age range. In fact, the older boys tend to step up and naturally guide and encourage the younger ones, so the mix can be healthy.

There’s no place like home.

The best location to meet is in the leader’s home. However, you can meet anywhere that your group agrees on. Ideally, the setting would be a place where the fathers and sons can:

  • be comfortable
  • hear each other well
  • not be distracted (i.e., NOT at Buffalo Wild Wings…)
  • have some degree of privacy and not be interrupted

Geographic proximity.

Look for dads/kids who have a reasonably convenient drive to your home. Try to avoid a meeting location that requires them to pack a lunch for the car trip. If they have long distance commutes each week, it will be more difficult to develop momentum.

Discussion & dialogue v. teaching & lecturing.

These weekly meetings are not your chance to amaze the “audience” with your command of the subject matter. Rather, each week should be an interactive discussion during which you engage the dads and sons in transparent and interesting dialogue that has some spiritual context.



  • Try to get all the dads talking
  • Try to get all the boys talking (without embarrassing them) (too much)
  • Encourage various viewpoints without letting one person get you way off track



  • Don’t let one guy dominate
  • Argue or criticize
  • Become dogmatic – avoid doctrinal debating and matters of opinion

Please be seated, next to your son.

Make sure kids sit next to their dads. This might feel a bit awkward the first week, but only one or two weeks of reinforcement, and you will have everyone trained. Trust us on this. It will pay dividends later.

Take breaks!

If your group gels quickly and everyone has a positive experience – it may be tempting to keep meeting every week. Under some circumstances, that might make sense. However, in most cases, it will cause the group meeting to become a chore. Meet for the length of a module – 6 weeks – then take a 2-4 week break.

Annual or quarterly outings.

Look for opportunities to serve or play together a few times per year. This might be a holiday outing, going camping, seeing a game together or any occasional event that allows the group to connect without a major agenda.