Reading Group Guide
This reading group guide for After You Die: Unveiling the Mysteries of Heaven and the Afterlife includes an introduction, discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
No one likes to talk or think about death. It’s the ultimate reality of life; however, it is a topic often ignored or pushed aside. In After You Die: Unveiling the Mysteries of Heaven and the Afterlife, Pastor Frank Santora tackles head-on the issue of death, offering cultural, scientific, philosophical, and biblical evidence to unveil both the truth about the afterlife and the key to living a life with greater purpose.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. What’s your immediate response when the topic of death comes up? How would you describe our culture’s attitude toward death?
2. Before reading After You Die, what were some of your default assumptions about what happens after you die? Were any of those assumptions challenged or changed as a result of reading this book? If so, which ones? 3. Have you experienced the death of someone close to you? How did the reality of death impact you? Did it raise any questions that you hadn’t considered before? If so, what were they? How did you address or respond to those questions?
4. In chapter 6, Santora describes the difference between our body, soul, and spirit. How would you describe a “soul”? How is it different from your physical body? What about your “spirit”?
5. Santora quotes Genesis 2:7 where God breathes life into Adam: “And then [he] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Read this verse out loud. What does this say about life and death? Who is giving life? Who is receiving life? What questions or struggles does this verse raise for you, if any?
6. In your opinion, what is the difference between evidence and proof of God’s existence? What pieces of evidence does Santora provide for God’s existence?
7. Have you ever known anyone who reported being dead for a brief period and then came back to life? What was your response to the claims of near death experiences (NDEs) described in After You Die? Santora quotes findings from a 1982 survey that over eight million people in the United States reported near death experiences. Were you surprised by this statistic? Why or why not?
8. What comes to mind when you hear the word hell? Do you think hell is a physical place? What does Santora describe in pages 98-99 as the ultimate purpose of hell? Do you agree or disagree?
9. Do you think it’s possible to experience hell before death? Why or why not?
10. Santora quotes C. S. Lewis: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it.” How did you respond to this quote?
11. What images come to mind when you think of heaven? In chapter 23, Santora describes heaven as a place of responsibility—a place where we are each given things to do. How does this contrast with your view of heaven? What implications does this viewpoint have for our attitude toward life on earth? What does it say about the ultimate purpose of work?
12. When you imagine meeting God face-to-face after you die, what do you feel? What is the first thing you want to say or do when you see him? How does this desire impact your communication with him now?
13. Santora also describes heaven as the place where God’s dreams come true. What are God’s dreams for the world? What are God’s dreams for your life? Have you ever had a conversation with God about his dreams for you?
14. How do your beliefs about your life source and what happens after death affect the decisions you make today? If God is your life source, are there things you can know with confidence about death? If so, what are they?
15. What is the significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection when we consider our own life and death? According to Santora, what makes Christianity different from every other religion, especially as it relates to death (page 234)?
16. Santora says that “what oxygen is to the lungs, hope is to life.” What is hope? Why do you think there has been such a fascination with the topic of hope in recent years, both in the media and in political debates? What creates hope?
17. Has reflecting on the topic of death impacted your day-to-day life? If so, what specific changes or decisions have you made? What will you do to sustain those choices?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Spend part of the book club meeting looking through magazines and cutting out advertisements that either encourage or discourage engaging with the reality of our mortality and death. Create a collage of the pictures, words, and images you and your book club select. What are the themes of the messages you observe? Discuss the impact of living in the midst of these messages.
2. Take a field trip to a cemetery with your book club. Walk through the grave markers and read the names and epitaphs. Have a conversation about what you hope your grave marker says about your life. What choices are you making today that move you in the direction of your own epitaph?
3. Consider reading a book that offers personal accounts of near death experiences for your next book club meeting, such as Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent, 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper with Cecil Murphey, or The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven by Kevin and Alex Malarkey. Discuss your reactions to these personal accounts of life after death. How did these accounts compare to what you read in After You Die?