Fitzpatrick, Joel. Between Us Guys: Life-Changing Conversations for Dads & Sons. New Growth Press, Greensboro, NC. 2019. 128 pages.
One of the challenges with youth ministry can be there is an expectation the pastor overseeing that ministry is the one in charge of discipling the children and youth of the church. While it is true the role of a youth pastor is to focus on making disciples in the youth, the mission of disciple-making is not merely or primarily his toward the youth. It is the parents. The youth pastor is meant to come alongside, discipling and equipping the parents, while sharing the load in discipling the youth. If this is the call, though, then why is the expectation for the pastor to head the task of disciple-making? While many reasons could be presented, one I have witnessed as a pastor overseeing youth and family ministries of the church is parents feel ill-equipped. If this describes you as a parent, especially to you as a father, then I’d like to introduce you to Joel Fitzpatrick and his new resource, Between Us Guys: Life-Changing Conversations for Dads & Sons.
A Conversation Starter
As a father himself, Joel realizes the crucial role parents, and in particular, fathers, have on the lives of their children. He also understands the call for dads to step up and lead their children in discipleship. This means not only using formal moments for sharing biblical truth but seeing everyday conversations as opportunities to share the gospel. That is exactly what he has done in writing the 14 talks featured in this resource. From friends and school to girls and sex, Joel walks through each of these talks presenting the intention of creation, the brokenness of sin, and the redemption found in Jesus Christ. The book opens up answering the question, “What is a man?” (Fitzpatrick 2) and is structured to guide dads through talks with their sons. Questions listed along the way aim to jumpstart conversations between dads and their sons.
A Relationship Builder
Between Us Guys not only serves to start gospel conversations between fathers and their sons but as they walk through these topics together, dads will see this resource seeks to be a relationship builder too. These talks are not meant to be read verbatim by the father in a way sounds like lecturing; rather, these chapters encourage dads to take pointers from what Fitzpatrick writes. What Mr. Fitzpatrick puts forth is with the intention of guiding fathers into conversations of relevant topics with redemptive themes. The most important talks fathers will want to be intentional on are the talks on family (highlighting both biological family and the spiritual family made up of the church), girls, and sex. The book wisely includes critical counsel on facing and responding to sexual abuse (Fitzpatrick 84). Yet, for all the topics the book includes, it would have made sense to split one topic into two distinct talks. Talk 14 on heaven certainly takes a look at death, but the impact of the talk would have been more effective if a whole talk would have been devoted to death followed by a talk on heaven. That said, the book does end with a talk on heaven, followed by 3 appendices which seek to equip the father to share the gospel with his son and set the example in family worship.
A Go-To Resource for Dads
As a conversation starter and a relationship builder, Between Us Guys will be the go-to resource for Christian dads who want to show their sons what it means to be changed by the gospel and share with them how the gospel impacts every area of life. This resource is especially a fit for fathers who are in the midst of raising elementary-aged sons. If you are a Christian father (or know a father) who needs guidance and encouragement to speak the gospel into your son’s life, then this is the book for you. If you want to go beyond just the formal times of instruction and learn how to intentionally turn topics of everyday life into conversations of eternal significance, then get this resource. If there was ever a guide to equip you to share how the gospel shapes every area of life even for the elementary student, this would be it. Dads, you need this resource!
I received this book from New Growth Press in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.