National Geographic’s “The Story of God”: A Free Discussion Guide
When National Geographic announced that Morgan Freeman would be hosting a series of conversations about God, humanity, and faith, I got excited. The Story of God wasn’t created from a Christian perspective, although it does include some Christian voices in the conversation. As a result, this series has a unique ability to spark meaningful dialogue with students and adults who prescribe to a range of beliefs about God, whether they are Christian or not.
You can purchase The Story of God episodes from Amazon HERE.
To help youth workers utilize this series in their ministry, I wrote a discussion guide to coordinate with each episode and we’ve made them available as FREE downloads through the links below:
Discussion Guide for Episode 1: Beyond Death
Discussion Guide for Episode 2: Apocalypse
Discussion Guide for Episode 3: Who Is God?
Discussion Guide for Episode 4: Creation
Discussion Guide for Episode 5: Why Does Evil Exist?
Discussion Guide for Episode 6: The Power of Miracles
Here are a few ways you can get the most out of these discussion guides:
Remember: This series is not meant to define or defend Christian doctrines.
This series is meant to present a variety of faith perspectives, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and others. Even the Christian perspectives that they do share in the series only represent a small portion of Christianity. You could be frustrated by that fact, or you can use it to help your students think critically about what they do believe. The discussion guide will provide you with some questions to help your students respond to all of the beliefs represented—from Christians or others—and in turn, could create powerful moments of reflection for your group.
Determine The Appropriate Age For Your Own Group.
This series isn’t for everyone. Some youth workers will have no problems showing this series to their junior high and high school students. Others would prefer their students be a little older before engaging in some of these concepts in this particular way. Lean into your own judgement and your church leadership to determine the appropriate age for your group.
Don’t Be Afraid of the Bias.
Of course there is a bias in this series. You can’t escape it, but you don’t have to be afraid of it. In fact, you can leverage it to create teachable moments with your students. Use the notes section of the discussion guides to track any bias that you hear and talk about them with your students. When you recognize them as a group, you can open up a conversation about all biases and how they can influence our beliefs even without us knowing it.
Focus on the stories that your students respond to the most.
Each episode is full of remarkable stories. Even though the discussion guide covers all of them, you don’t have to. I would recommend starting with the introduction and the first few questions in each discussion guide. If your students seem to focus on a few specific stories more than the others, then skip to the sections of the discussion guide covering those stories. You only have so much time together as a group, so focus your energy on what they seem to be connecting with the most.
Help your students feel safe expressing their questions and doubts.
This series can trigger some honest conversations with your students. It’s important to create an environment where students feel safe asking the hard questions, and where their doubts have room to be examined in a loving community. To do this, I’d recommend:
- Show this series in a small group setting. Larger groups could discourage honest conversations.
- Use the discussion guide as a tool to get the conversation started, but then let your students’ questions and responses lead the rest of the dialogue.
- When a student asks a hard question or expresses a doubt, thank them for their honesty and, if it’s appropriate, invite the group to respond with their own thoughts.
- Don’t force an answer onto anyone. You can show someone a truth, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to influence their thoughts right away. Be patient and let your students live with the conversations and the tension of their questions.
- Follow-up this series with another helpful small group resource like, Can I Ask That?
If you use this resource in your ministry, email me to let me know if it’s been helpful or if you have any suggestions for how we can make it a better tool for groups like yours.
JACOB ECKEBERGER is the Content Manager at Youth Specialties, an itinerant worship leader, the spouse of a church planter, and a long time volunteer youth worker. You can find him blogging about social media and digital strategy ideas at JACOBECKEBERGER.COM.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.