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Say What You Mean: Defending the Faith Review by Deborah Burt

Jo Jo Tabares
8270 Monroe Avenue
Hesperia, CA 92344

Say What You Mean: Defending the Faith is a study centered on learning how to communicate God's truths with others. An apologetics study and speech course combined, Defending the Faith will ensure your student not only knows God's Word but will be prepared to articulate it!

Defending the Faith is different from most apologetic courses because the student doesn't just read about the reasons for faith, nor does he memorize a cookie-cutter script. Instead, the student does his own research so that the answers will make more sense to him and so that he will retain more of the information. Preparing speechs and role-playing enable the student to internalize the material.

Defending the Faith (along with all the other products available from Art of Eloquence) is different from other speech courses. Author Jo Jo Tabares found many traditional speech texts boring and decided instead to use a humorous approach to disarm fear. She also provides engaging activities to help the student develop the confidence he will need to communicate his faith with others.

Defending the Faith is broken into 18 weeks of instruction. Each week entails several hours of research, study, and speech practice. The course could easily be stretched over 36 weeks by simply taking two weeks to cover each lesson. Each week's lesson focuses on one common question or misconception about the Christian faith (such as "I'm already a good person. Why do I need God?" or "Men wrote the Bible and men make mistakes."). The text gives a different list of suggested resources for each topic (parents, pastors, specific Scriptures, Bible concordance, websites, etc.). The student may use any other resource at his disposal.

Defending the Faith next provides the student with communication tips, including a humorous little section called, "Just for Fun. How NOT to Answer this Issue." Once enough information is collected, the student will give a formal 5-minute speech presenting his findings. The text provides a feedback chart to help make evaluation easier.

After this first speech is completed, the student practices putting these ideas into a concise format by having two or three casual conversations with a parent The parent plays the role of someone struggling through the topic at hand (different personality-types are prescribed in the text). Evaluation forms are provided for these impromptu speeches as well.

There were a few minor areas of theology in which I disagreed with Jo Jo Taberes. The truth is I don't really know anyone with the same exact theology as myself, so this didn't bother me too much. Because you are encouraged to use any resources at your disposal, you should feel free to help your student find answers to the topics in the way that best fits your family or your particular Christian tradition.

Recommended prerequisites for this course are Say What You Mean Kids/Teens, Know Your Audience, and Say What You Mean: An Advanced Speech Course (or equivalent). According to Art of Eloquence, these courses will prepare your student with knowledge and practice in basic communications skills as well as a firm foundation in listening, persuasion, and speech skills. I personally think a student could handle Defending the Faith without having completed the prerequisites. But completing the prerequisites would help your student have an easier time working through Defending the Faith.

Although this is a wonderful study, Defending the Faith is not for the faint of heart. It is an in-depth study requiring a lot of research and time. Art of Eloquence provides a free sample chapter for you to peruse on their website. You may want to try the sample chapter out in your home to see how it fits your family.

Defending the Faith is available only as a downloadable e-book, ready to print from your home printer. There are several advantages to the e-book format, such as no waiting for delivery and no shipping costs. The text is very easy to navigate from your computer screen: the links are embedded in the text, the table of contents is clickable, and the text comes with a search option so that you can quickly find information within the text. One disadvantage is the cost of ink to print them out. But at only $24.95, this study is still a great buy!

If after completing this 18-week course you find that your students crave more of this kind of faith-and-communication polishing, you should know that Art of Eloquence is coming out soon with two more semester-long courses. More Say What You Mean: Defending the Faith and Even More Say What You Mean: Defending the Faith should be available within the next year or so.

Product review by Deborah Burt, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2007