Opening the Doors of Dialogue… with an Unusual Tool

A month ago my friends Adam, Marko and I launched an intriguing project with no clue as to how people would respond. I wrote an atypical little discussion-starting tool, in the guise of a fiction book titled, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers. It released about 30 days ago now, and I’m truly amazed at the variety of ways people have been using the fictional premise within those pages to get kids talking about real life issues.

The shocker… I haven’t heard one complaint yet! (Even all of the reviews on Amazon are off the charts. Usually a few stink bombs are dropped.) Instead, we’re getting bulk orders from churches. The D6 Conventions and YS Conventions are even stocking the books in their stores.

My favorite part of this is hearing feedback from the front lines. Here’s just 10 of the responses from youth workers and parents who’ve tried the book out with their teenagers and are using the small group questions at the end of each chapters:

We are using your book during Sunday School and the response has been great! We go through one chapter a week. I don’t let them take it home so no one peeks ahead. They are answering the questions with so many answers I have to cut them off because we only have an hour. I have been in the ministry 30 years and have never seen a book study be as effective as this.
-Jeff, Temple Baptist

I am using your book in both a one-on-one discipleship setting, as well as in a youth group setting. The youth group is so excited to get to talk about the zombie apocalypse in a church setting. I’ve enlarged the map in the beginning and we walk through Chris’ journey together.
-Camie, Saint Matthew’s

Dude! We are reading it at family devotions.  We just got introduced to the character “Money” in Chapter 9…  The book is fantastic!  Even my wife is loving it.
-Greg, Christ Community

We have been using it for Sunday school class. There are about 14 youth in the class. We read a chapter at a time and answer the questions at the end. The kids love it!  One parent even told me, I don’t know what you are doing in class but amber loves it!  It’s going great. Thanks
-Tiffany, Wintersville UMC

I handed them out in my youth group. There was one of the youth who doesn’t like to read, is not interested in most things that we do, who read the whole book in about a week and a half.  I had a lot of discussion with him about the questions at the end and he was intrigued how it all tied together.  I have heard him talking about it with his friends and encouraging them to read it as well.
-Jessica, Findlay Nazarene

My wife is using it in her class at the school she teaches (private Christian school) and they are all reading a chapter or two a week and discussing it. The kids are loving it and my wife is enjoying the interaction.
-Joe, Eastern Hills Baptist Church

When I first got the email about this book coming out, I was really curious to see how you wrote it.  So I initially bought 5 copies to read and hand out to some of my leaders and students to “test drive” for me. The feedback was great.  I have one freshmen guy, who is usually very apathetic, who immediately got excited and can’t wait to be a part of the small group we are doing. After reading it, I went online and bought 12 more copies through Amazon.  We are going to be leading a small group this fall and using it as one of our small group options. I’m looking forward to using it!
-Mike, Fellowship Alliance

So far we are really enjoying the book. We are using it for our Junior High guys small group. They seem to love it. The whole Zombie Apocalypse thing is apparently big with the Junior High. The questions are great. They have led to some great discussions with our group. Many of the girls are complaining because they want to talk about Zombies as well. This is one of the best Jr. High guys curriculums that I have seen/used. Great Job.
-Caleb, Aldersgate UMC

I’m currently using your book as our current youth group small group study. It’s going well so far, the youth are definitely interested in the storyline and the biblical application. Your book is the perfect mix of current day life for teens and the only way to survive and that’s Jesus Christ! You have done a great job of incorporating the Zombie Apocalypse and God’s word into one seamless storyline.
-Ronald, Eastside Church of Christ

Thank you for writing The Zombie Apocalypse… I used it with my high school students. They thought it was great. The story was enough to keep their attention and keep them awake at 11pm at our lock in as I read them the introduction, the first journal entry and went over the reflection questions. I love the story, and I will be looking for more ways I can use it with our kids.
-Matt, Bethlehem Lutheran Church

There you have it. If you’d like to give it a try, we sell it below retail HERE, and if you want to buy more than 10, then Adam and Marko are offering some great bulk discounts HERE.

Let me know how you use it—I’d love to hear your feedback. I’m so glad that people are using this tool to open up the doors of dialogue with teenagers today.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new The Teen’s Guide to Social Media & Mobile Devices, If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; and the Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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4 Responses to Opening the Doors of Dialogue… with an Unusual Tool

  1. I have an after school time called “McDonald’s Office Hours”. We meet for a short devotional time, I buy each student 1 thing off the $1 menu and we make and announcement video for youth group. It’s right after school so they’ve been sitting and listening to teachers all day so we have to do something a little interesting…..and this book is great! I do have to re-direct from zombie talk to the lesson, but they are really enjoying it. We do one chapter a week and are on the 4th one now, but they still keep yanking headphones out of each others ears when were talking in a group (for those who don’t get it, read the first chapter). Loving the study and look forward to seeing more of what happens to Chris and the group and the lessons that can apply to us who live life before the zombies. Thanks for the great book.

  2. Nick says:

    How are people using it? I want to steal some ideas. Are you just reading through it and using the questions at the end? Are you buying the book and having the youth read a chapter and then come back and discuss? Are you just pulling different situtations out of the book and discussing them? Again I just want to steal some Ideas I plan on using it during the month of October.

    • Good question Nick, and I think you see a variety of methods being used even in the responses above. Some reading outloud, others giving each kid a book and then going through the questions. Some as a family, others as a group. The one thing I’ve heard multiple times is that if you give it to a kid, the kid reads through it in a day… but doesn’t necessarily go through the discussion questions. So if you want to take advantage of the discussion questions, you probably need to be the one to initiate those questions with your kid or kids. For example, if you use it for your small group, you could give each kid a book and tell them, we discuss chapter 1 next week. Even though many might read the whole book in one sitting, you can still just discuss chapter 1 as planned and so on. Hope that helps.