City on a Hill–A Guide to Godly Manhood

Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio gave the men of the family Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit in exchange for this review and our honest opinion.

What you need to know about us:

Before I tell you about Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit, there are some things you need to know about the head of The Travel Bags:

  1. Steve does not like to read books. He wants to like to read books, but when he has time at the end of the day his brain and eyes won’t let him. Instead, they say, “You’ve been reading, thinking, writing, guitarring, figuring, and fixing all day–go to sleep already!”
  2. Steve does not like “12-step programs,” as he calls them. He doesn’t agree that there is a formula for everything, and that if you do ABC followed several letters later by XYZ, your kids will turn out A-OK.
  3. He doesn’t like to force character-building issues. When topics come up naturally, he addresses them, but he doesn’t always jump on board my “let’s over-analyze and discuss with our kids every single conceivable scenario they may encounter in their lives so they’re uber-prepared” bandwagon. (In my defense…well…never mind.)
  4. Steve isn’t necessarily skilled at remembering to do things…and neither is his bride, so we’ve got two ball-droppers juggling life here on the road full-time.
  5. He can’t handle numerous obligations at one time, so basically booking events around the country, communicating with pastors, working out worship services and concerts, learning new music, writing new songs, recording CDs, being a husband, parenting his children, repairing the trailer, doing taxes, fixing any electronic device that I touch, making videos for The Travel Bags, teaching his kids about Creation by taking them to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the top of other places, repairing the trailer again, organizing our route, driving around the country, maintaining the trailer and van, “managing” the tanks (ew), paying the bills, handling the finances, advising his adult children, and repairing the trailer one more time is about all he can handle–the slacker.
  6. Structuring father-son sit-down time to go through a program is not his thing. Saying, “Hey, Boy, come help me with the jacks on the trailer–you can use the power drill,” or “I need to go to the hardware store, so get your shoes on” or “We protect girls–we don’t hurt them” or “I bought you a ticket to fly to Wisconsin with me to pick up our van and drive it back out west, so don’t get sick, ya Goofball” are his thing.

Why am I telling you this? Because Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit is something he would never pick up if it wasn’t sent to us for review purposes. You are getting the opinion of a man who did not want to do this program. That in no way makes him less of a man or less loving toward his sons–it’s just, well, number 6 above.

A few more preliminary notes:

First, while this review is in part a man’s opinion, this woman wrote it–thus the wordiness. If Steve wrote this, you would be finished reading by now. Wink wink.

Second, this was supposed to be a five-week review period. Unfortunately, there was a mix-up with the mailing that was all my fault, because I didn’t follow these RVers mailing guidelines that I wrote.  Therefore, we have only had time to begin the six-week program, not nearly finish it. We will update this review when we finish the study…which will take more than six weeks because, well, numbers 4 and 5 above.

Third, if I hadn’t messed up the address, I never would have had to get in touch with the good people at Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio, and I never would have known how incredibly helpful and kind they are! Wowzers! I like to know that underneath all the flashy products and catchy sound bites, a company has a kind and solid heart. Well played, Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio. Well played.

What is Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit?

(Let’s get cozy with Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit and just call it Manhood Journey or even MJ, ‘kay? Thanks.)

A boy’s successful journey from boyhood to Godly manhood does not happen by accident. In today’s culture, too many fathers drop the ball. The reasons are numerous:

  • divorce
  • life stressors such as work, home maintenance, church responsibilities (ironically), and marriage (some stresses are good stresses–grin)
  • distractions (politics, “causes,” video games, sports, buddies, vices, and everything in the previous point)
  • laziness
  • apathy
  • lack of awareness of how crucial their role is
  • conflicting societal messages making men confused and sometimes afraid to “be men”
  • lack of know-how or confidence because of a lack of examples or mentors

We all mess up, apologize, seek forgiveness, and grow–thats’ parenting, and our kids will benefit by watching that process. Consistently dropping the parenting ball, however, isn’t like missing a deadline on the blog or burning dinner. Failing to be there for your kids has huge, life-long ramifications.

(On a personal note, this is something I have experienced first-hand in my life in a very real and painful way, and it is the main reason for the baggage I have brought into my marriage and the high standard to which I hold my husband as a father–not that high standards are bad, but it’s good to remember that Jesus and my children’s dad are not the same person.)

I cannot stress enough the importance of a father who is willing to lead by example, say the hard words, and guide his sons on the journey to Godly manhood. While physical presence is important, fatherhood is much, much more than simply fielding everyday life as it hits you in the face.

Good dads are shepherds who guide and protect their sons, but also teachers who prepare their kids through word and example. That’s a lot of responsibility, and very difficult if you haven’t had a good father or a mentor to teach you these things (and even if you have). Americans prize the independent spirit, so many men believe (or at least say) that they can raise their kids on their own and don’t need a mentor…but if their dads weren’t in the picture or didn’t paint a Godly picture of fatherhood, the dads are starting from scratch. That’s because not everything about parenting is instinctive…like changing diapers. Have you ever seen a man who is instinctively good at changing the diaper of a 10-month-old baby with a cold and tummy trouble who is already eating solids? No. No you haven’t. Teaching a boy to be a godly man is a bigger deal than that and on a totally different spectrum, but you get the idea.

Manhood Journey steps in as the mentor that too many of our dads never had. It guides Dad as he guides his son on the road to Godly manhood.

What’s in the box?

Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit includes the following:

  • Embarking group study guide
  • Embarking father-son study guide
  • DVD with introductory sections for each part of the Manhood Journey (this is just the starter kit–there are other modules after Embarking)
  • maps (my son calls them treasure maps and absconded with one for that purpose)
  • a book called Wise Guys to help men find mentor-like wisdom in the people they encounter in their everyday lives without necessarily sitting down over tea and crepes and calling each other mentor/mentee…because, I’m told, that’s not how most men rollFather's Starter Kit | Manhood Journey

What can you expect?

Embarking is a summary of the Manhood Journey experience. It encourages a godly father reads the Word, prays for others, guides them based on scripture.

MJ is promoted as a father-son Bible study, but…I’m going to come to a screeching halt and be very honest with you here. I mean, I’m always honest, but I often hold back–I’m going to come right out and offend most of you.

Often–all too often–Bible studies are flat-out boring. We (kids, teens, parents) have sat through countless (literally countless) Bible studies that were just…plain…painful! I know full well that the Lord can work through a tediously dull, lifeless, poorly written, poorly presented Bible study, but I also know full well that the teen that was dragged to Bible study and doesn’t really know what Christianity is all about ain’t comin’ back if that’s his only experience with “those weird Christians.” And a teen who was raised in the church who was forced to sit through lifeless studies that seemed entirely relevant to his life isn’t going to be enthusiastic about church when the option to go or not is his.

So when someone says “Let’s go to Bible study,” there’s this little part of my brain that dreads it–just being honest–and there’s this other part of my brain (rather pharisaical) that condemns that first little part of my brain for “not being Christian enough” and for not rejoicing at the prospect of going to the house of the Lord, so to speak. Do you hear me?

The Bible is relevant–totally relevant! It’s also fascinating. It’s a crime when some Bible studies make it boooooring. Boo on that! No, we don’t necessarily need dancing veggies to teach the message of God, but dancing veggies work.

How is this rant relevant to Manhood Journey?

Manhood Journey is not boring. It isn’t awkward. It doesn’t hold the father-son team to a scripted lesson. One thing that really hit home with this family is that the rabbit trails, so to speak, are encouraged as a bonding, teaching, growing experience. You don’t have to stick to a script. In fact, there is very little script–enough to guide you, but not so much as to stifle you

Another plus for us is that, while this is set-up as a group study, it can also be done with just the father-son team. We aren’t in a position to meet with others over a six-week period.

MJ also encourages the father to truly listen to their sons–not just hearing words, not just looking for the right answer, but truly listening. When the son sees that the father (or father figure) really wants to know the son for who he is (without judgment or lectures), he will see that Dad really cares and wants what’s best for him, and will be more inclined to follow his guidance.

The writer doesn’t expect you to be perfect, Dad! He expects you to be real, to share struggles, to call your son and yourself to grow together, to be humble, to set the bar high on Godly manhood, and then lift your son up to reach it…and fail together and try again. It’s real!

The one-on-one guide isn’t long. You could read the whole section that you need in 2-5 minutes, depending on your reading speed.

The group guide isn’t long either. It isn’t necessary for the father-son team, but it can add a little more insight.

The DVD offers an intro to each of the modules in the series…and it isn’t long either! In so doing, it gives men nuggets to think about that will guide them as parents. Steve summarized them all for me. Two that stood out for me are as follows:

  1. Being a leader isn’t just about how to lead, but about where you’re going–have that vision!
  2. When addressing purity, it isn’t just about abstaining from sexual sin. It’s about putting God first, then family. Steve said, “The way we as men view and treat women is a byproduct of putting God first, then family. I won’t argue with that.”


This quote from the guide says it all:

“Dads, don’t leave this to chance. Bringing up sons to become godly men will not happen on its own. So initiate. Be strong and courageous. Be a man of action!”

Might I add “before it’s too late!”

Want to know more?

Visit the following two links for more information:

What other parents are saying:

Other Homeschool Review Crew parents also reviewed Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit. To get their opinions, click here or on the banner below:

Social media links:

Manhood Journey
Twitter:  @manhoodjourney

City on a Hill

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