building into young people during their gap year

What do Chick-Fil-A, rapper Trip Lee and Sean McDowell have in common?

All three captivated my attention last weekend… and I think you’ll find ‘why’ fascinating.

Let me back up. For the last decade the youth ministry world has been wrestling with a tough question—one that parents are asking just the same:

Why are so many kids walking away from their faith during/after high school?

It’s a question you’ve heard me address countless times.

Last weekend I met some people who are tackling this reality head on… and I think they’re onto something. And thanks to support from the incredible people at Chick-Fil-A, they’re making a difference.

Lori and I had the awesome privilege to attend the groundbreaking of the new facility at the Impact 360 Institute in Georgia last Friday and Saturday, and I was really impressed… probably too many times to name. But I’ll share with you a few highlights:

I’ve heard countless musicians speak… and honestly… I usually wish they’d just stop talking and start performing (I’m sure they’d think the same of me if I tried to sing). But last weekend I heard Trip share with a group of adults, and he was phenomenal. He was funny, articulate, and on point. The youth worker side of me thought, “I’d book this guy any day to come perform and speak to kids.” He was outstanding.

Sean and I have spoken at several conferences together—in fact—we spoke at one together just a few weeks ago. But this weekend my wife and I had the privilege to just sit and heard him address adults about how Biblical truth can counter cultural tolerance … and he was by far the best speaker of the weekend (and there were several very good speakers). We enjoyed him immensely.

I love their spicy chicken sandwich, and I knew the owners were Christians (because they seem to provide food at one in four Christian events I speak at), but I never knew the history of the Cathy family. This weekend much of the Cathy family gathered to celebrate the launch of the Impact 360 Institute, including a building which was named after Jeannette McNeil Cathy, the wife of the founder, and a Godly woman and matriarch in so many ways. (More about her here.) Now I’m going to eat even more Chick-Fil-A.

The Impact 360 Institute (with quality leaders like Dr. Jonathan Morrow) is making a proactive effort to build into high school kids and graduates during their gap year before college, helping them to know Jesus more deeply, be transformed by him, and live a life of Kingdom influence. (More on that here).

What a fantastic ministry and mission.

It was fun not speaking for a weekend and just seeing what God is doing through this amazing ministry. I encourage you to give them a peek—your students might want to attend!

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, and 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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