Miley’s Faith

Posted on: 02/28/08 8:08 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I don’t know if you saw the Oscars… I don’t know if you even cared. But Miley Cyrus was one of the presenters, and one of the few to be interviewed by Barbara Walters on her famous post-Oscar interview show. I thought you might like to hear what she said about her faith.

Miley’s the hottest thing in the world of young girls right now. I’ve blogged about her before, about her popularity, and her as one of the biggest trendsetters in 2008. There’s no question why Barbara interviewed her. Miley is THE draw for young girl audiences right now.

The interview was short, but I thought Miley did well. She talked about her faith a little bit, and might have been perceived by some as a little cocky, once almost sounding a little condescending… but she’s young and I think she did fairly well for her age and degree of difficulty of the questions she was being asked.

We don’t know much about her faith, just that she uses the word “Christian” (which means nothing these days- 81% of Americans claim to be “Christian”) referring to herself, and she seems to reflect good morals (a breath of fresh air today) in the midst of a world full of poor role models. Barbara asked us about this.

We transcripted a snippet of the interview for you:

Barbara: Miley, you’re living here in California and you’re 15 years old and you pick up the papers and every day practically, you read about another young star, some of whom were Disney stars, how can you be certain that what happened to Brittney and Lindsay and to Jamie Lynn Spears won’t happen to you?  What will be the difference?

Miley: For me, as I know, that some people don’t have a family to fall back on like I have and that’s when something greater than even that comes in and that’s faith and that’s what I have for me it’s what keeps me strong.  And I know that some of these people you know do have Christian families and they’re just, you know, not seeing that they’re so much greater than the materialistic things that are there right now than, like, you know, going out and the parties and whatever, but the people that are the ones that you want to hold on to are the people that tell you the truth and that’s your family and that sometimes you know can be a little bit harsh and can you know say things that have to be honest and that can hurt sometimes.

Barbara: What do you think about Jamie Lynn Spears?  I mean she’s pregnant, she’s only 16.  Can you imagine that?

Miley: No, and I think, you know, it’s definitely hard when it’s your friends. Jamie Lynn is you know a friend of mine. But also I know how strong she is as a person. I just think it’s pretty cool that she has stepped away cause that’s what I would have to do.

Barbara: You know Jamie Lynn Spears?

Miley: Mmmhhmmm. I know basically all of those girls, which is really crazy to see that.  But, my main goal for me is the reason that I also feel pretty confident that I won’t end up like that is because I can go out there and be kind of like a light to them and make them want to live the way that I, you know, long to live.

Barbara: Your birth name is Destiny Hope. What’s your destiny?

Miley: The reason my dad named me Destiny Hope in the first place is because he always said it was my destiny to bring hope. And I think that’s kind of the thing that I want to do. There’s been so many people that have come up to me and say, you know, the hour that we are watching your shows are the times that my kids are happiest, they’re smiling, they’re laughing.  And that is what I long to do, is to be the person that you can, open up a magazine and see my face and there’ll be something, you know there’ll be a quote that’s so positive and that will be like, you know I’m having a hard day today, but you know what Miley said will get me through it. And so that’s what my destiny is.


Americans Keep Switching Religions!

Posted on: 02/26/08 4:52 PM | by Jonathan McKee

The report was released just Monday. The results are in…

Americans are fickle about their religion!

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released the results of their 35,000 person poll concluding, “Americans not only change jobs, change where they live, and change spouses… they change religions too.”

Yahoo News reports:

According to Pew, 28% of American adults have left the faith of their childhood for another one. And that does not even include those who switched from one Protestant denomination to another; if it did, the number would jump to 44%.

Some other interesting facts from the report:

  • one third of Americans raised Catholic have left the church
  • two thirds of Jehovah’s Witnesses have left that church
  • the single biggest “winner” of a group that has changed their minds was the group called “unaffiliated” (including athiests and agnotics) who lost 50% of their original group to one church or another.
  • the highest rates for marrying within one’s own faith were Hindus (90%) and Mormons (83%)

The summary of the report has a nice chart that summarizes it pretty well. The actual report web page is pretty interesting, even at a glance. You can look at an AFFILIATIONS page that breaks down the percentage of people from each religion in the US, or look at a MAP that shows you the percentage of US adults affiliated with certain groups per state, or even look at the PORTRAITS of a particular religious group, detailing the demographic characteristics such as age, ethnicity, educational level, and income level.

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It’s Time to “Bully” Once Again

Posted on: 02/25/08 12:01 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last weekend when I was in Pennsylvania I saw a video game cover that caught my eye in a Game Stop window. The game is called “Bully: Scholarship Edition” …and you’re going to want to know about this one.

Brought to you by Rockstar Games, the lovely people that provided the “Grand Theft Auto” games, the new “Bully” for Xbox 360 and Wii will hit the video game shelves March 4th. This game features exclusive content which was apparently unavailable in the PS2 version released in 2006. And now, with the XBox 360 graphics, you’ll be able to get into mischief and kick some butt in High Def! And now you can do it with online multiplayer features.

They say that pictures speak 1,000 words. Well… then previews must speak 10,000. This trailer will show you more about the true content of this new game than I could ever describe to you. (NOTE: Don’t worry… I’m not showing you something innapropriate for your eyes… this trailer would probably be approved for all audiences. When you see it you’ll just agree that it’s sad that this is the entertainment deemed acceptable for our kids today. We’ve come a long way since “Space Invaders”.)

For those of us that missed the first “Bully” game–Bully or be bullied– that seems to be the name of the game.

“Bully” doesn’t have graphic gun violence like “Grand Theft Auto.” Instead, you fist fight with other kids. Common Sense Media describes the violence on the original version like this:

Parents need to know that this game is not Grand Theft Auto (the games were both created by Rockstar Games). It is, however, about bullying behavior in a school setting and therefore — given the sad state of school violence — a hot-button topic for parents. There is plenty of psychological brutality and physical violence (fistfighting, kicking, and “humiliating” finishing moves). Weapons include a baseball bat, garbage can lid, and fire extinguisher but, there are no guns, blood, or gore. Because this game deals with intimidation and violence with realistic language, parents who let their kids play it should absolutely talk about school violence (see next paragraph). The game contains some sexual remarks and alcohol references; and depending on the path taken, the main character, Jimmy Hopkins, can kiss another boy. Pranks include firing at football players from a tree with a slingshot and throwing marbles on the ground for others to trip over. The game does include consequences for misdeeds. describes the new game as a sort of “director’s cut” for the original “Bully.”

“The new version keeps the soul of the original PlayStation 2 game and adds a next-gen polish to its body. It also adds new graphics, extra solo missions, and multiplayer games.”

The game is rated “T” which means for teens. But that means that kids can purchase it. I called up my local Game Stop store to ask them about it. The rated “T” supposedly means you have to be 14. But that isn’t enforced. The only rating enforced is “M.” According to this Game Stop employee, everything below M is just a recommendation. “So a 6 year old can come in and buy this?” I asked. “Yep. We can sell anything to a six-year-old but M.”

Some think the game should be “M.” The National Institute on MEDIA and the FAMILY issued a KidScore rating of RED for the first”Bully,” commenting that they think the game should be rated “M” for only mature audiences. And when the original game was first going to be released, Miami lawyer and video game critic Jack Thomson filed a lawsuit against Rockstar Games parent company Take 2 Interactive, as well as Wal-Mart, and Game Stop, trying to prevent them from being able to sell the game to minors. TechNewsWorld reported that the Florida circuit court judge “decided not to ban the sale of the controversial game to minors.”

So the new “Bully” will be just like everything else in this world… easy access. That means it’s up to parents.


The Source “East Coast/West Coast” Thing

Posted on: 02/22/08 4:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Yesterday was a fun day for us here at THE SOURCE as David, our East Coast guy, flew West and connected with me before I flew East.

David R. Smith has been one of our speakers and writers for years, but in the fall of 2007 we were able to hire him enough hours where he can now speak, train and write full time. David lives in Tampa… our East Coast rep of sorts. I’m in Sacramento doing the West Coast thang. Funny though… I’m flying to Pennsylvania this weekend for a camp I am speaking at, and David is teaching one of our workshops in California this weekend. I had him come out a day early so we could do a few podcasts (note our cool podcast picture) and hang out. It’s not often we get to hang out together.

So yesterday I picked him up from the airport around noonish, we got some BAR B Q, and then came back to my home office, worked on his seminar a bit, and record two podcasts. One of the podcasts we recorded was our next episode of our new podcast for teenagers, A Li’l Bit. We’re really excited about this podcast. It’s a weekly podcast we just launched for teenagers to get them in the WORD each week. This is simply because we’ve noticed that more teenagers carry iPods than they do Bibles. We figure that maybe we can get the WORD in their heads through earphones if not through reading it.

After working we at dinner and watched American Idol with my Family (Where I picked 4 out of the 4 that got dropped… YEAH!) David was on East Coast time so he sacked early. I’m leaving on a 6:15 flight this morning, so I’m up at o’ dark thirty. Pray for our speaking and training this weekend if you think of it.

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Gen @, Millennials, Gen Y… Whatever You Call Them

Posted on: 02/20/08 3:47 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Generation Y (or “Gen @” as I call them in my newest book) has been frequenting the business sections of papers across the world. People just don’t know what to do with this generation of young business people that are as old as their late twenties.

In this Dallas News article, ad exec Owen Hannay doesn’t hold back in his feelings about this generation:

It’s not that millennials lack the creative genius or technological know-how that he’s looking for. Far from it, he says. It’s more that they lack the real-world grounding it takes to deal with responsibility, accountability and setbacks.

“They wipe out on life as often as they wipe out on work itself,” says Mr. Hannay, who let go more than a dozen millennials from his 130-person staff over the course of 2006.

That’s when he stopped hiring them. “They get an apartment and a kitty, and they can’t cope. Work becomes an ancillary casualty. They’re good kids with talent who want to succeed. That’s what makes me nuts.”

The article goes on to talk about how this generation needs to be understood.

I’m always intrigued by Gen @ simply because they are one of the largest sources of our volunteers in youth ministry. Despite their bratty, narcissistic reputation, many employers and volunteer managers are finding them to be worth the struggle.

I have to agree. If you harness the passion and potential of these young professionals, you’ll find that you have a huge asset on your team. (Here is an excerpt from my new book THE NEW BREED on that very subject.)

2008 Trendsetters

Posted on: 02/19/08 1:55 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Which stars do teenage girls have their eyes on this year?

That’s a good question. And Seventeen Magazine’s Gina Kelly has made the self fulfilling prophecy this year, choosing Miley Ray Cyrus (Hannah Montana), Rachel Bilson (Jumper, The O.C.), Emma Watson (the Harry Potter films) and the “Gossip Girls.”

Kelly helped pick these “Style Stars” for the magazine’s last issue.

In 2007 Rihanna led the pack. You may remember her hit song Umbrella riding the #1 spot for what seemed like an eternity. And then… we started to see her influence on fashion. Think about it for a second. Didn’t you notice? (Maybe you did without knowing.) How many of her haircuts you’ve seen walking around town in the last few months? I saw a lady with one where I dropped off my car today!

But 2008 is a new year. And according to this recent AP article, Cyrus and the “Gossip Girls” are the main ones to watch:

Right now, Cyrus, the real-life “Hannah Montana,” is doing a good job connecting to the teens and “tweens” who love her, Kelly says, but she’ll have to walk a fine line as she gets older and likely becomes an even bigger star. “I’d love to see her evolve a little but also keep her youthfulness.”

Meanwhile, “Gossip Girls” has become the TV destination for style-savvy young women, in the way “The O.C.” and “Sex and the City” were for the girls who are now in their 20s and 30s, according to Kelly.

I blogged about Miley recently… I don’t need to revisit the subject. Anyone who spends any time with young girls, tweens and even teens knows that Miley is the STUFF! The Oscars even have added her to the presenting lineup on February 24th in hopes of drawing more of a tween audience (we’ll also see Miley as one of Barbara Walters’ in-depth interviews in her 27th annual Oscar® edition of “The Barbara Walters Special,” thanks Anastasia for that link).

And many of you might be familiar with the CW’s fairly new show “Gossip Girl,” the show that Media Life deemed “The top rated new show among 12-17-year-olds” last Fall.

These trendsetters have our kids’ attention. I encourage you to take a peek at either of these shows (Hannah Montana and Gossip Girl) once or twice, just to keep aware. (Acts 17)  

(thanks to Anastasia at YPULSE for the AP link)

Child Preachers

Posted on: 02/18/08 9:47 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Wow… I preached my first sermon as a freshman in High School and I thought I started young!

These are hilarious. These children not only are imitating preaching, they have every gesture, every voice inflection… these kids have been paying attention!

This one (below) is quick:

But this one (below) is really funny. Especially at about 50 seconds to about a minute 10.

And this kid below (I think it’s the same one as above… not sure) can barely talk, yet he already has his preaching style nailed! I love it about 50 seconds into it when he opens the Bible to go through what he “went through last week!” LOL.  Then at 2:10 he tells you what happens to us if we don’t obey. You can even hear a few voices in the background giving “Amens” throughout.



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Our Response to Another School Shooting

Posted on: 02/15/08 12:04 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Most of us have already read the story of Steven P. Kazmierczak, the gunman who went on a shooting rampage at Northern Illinois University. Apparantly he recently stopped taking medication, went ballistic, and opened fire in a geology class, shooting 21 people, killing 5, then taking his own life.

This time the shooter didn’t seem like a “troubled” kid seeking revenge (as we’ve seen in many past shootings). University police said that Kazmierczak was actually an “award-winning” student “revered” by colleagues and faculty.

The sad thing is… this trajedy is nothing new. We’ve seen it so many times we can’t even count.

So what can we do?

1. Use this as an opportunity to dialogue with kids about the trajedy. Lane Palmer, a Columbine youth pastor/counselor who worked with kids through the 1999 shooting, advised the following:

It is vitally important that we help our teens walk through events like these for many reasons. Some youth leaders might be hesitant to talk with their groups about the recent tragedy for fear that it will only intensify the stress and fear already imbedded in their emotions. The fact is, the opposite is true. The excess of various emotions that were released over the past few days need a healthy outlet, otherwise they will work their way out in negative ways.

One thing that helped me with our students was to help them put labels on what they are experiencing (stress, fear, sadness, etc.), then talk about ways to address each individual one. For example, if they are feeling sadness, ask them what has helped them in the past with those feelings. If they are anxious, walk them through the whole concept of how God is still in control, so we need not be anxious about the future (i.e. Matthew 6:25-34). This could happen on a corporate and individual level.

I think the other key issue here is the chance we have to bring up the important issues in life. When events like this occur, we have a golden opportunity to help teens evaluate their spiritual condition. As well, many times you’ll see a lot of new faces in your group after events like these, because students are looking for answers. Again- what a great opening for evangelism.

Lane talks more about this in my interview with him last April after the Virginia Tech shooting. He answers questions like, “What youth group would you run this week” and links some resources for discussions on dealing with tragedy

2. Pray for the families and friends of the slain victims:

  • Daniel Parmenter, 20, Westchester, Ill.
  • Catalina Garcia, 20, Cicero, Ill.
  • Ryanne Mace, 19, Carpentersville, Ill.
  • Julianna Gehant, 32, Mendota, Ill.
  • Gayle Dubowski, 20, Carol Stream, Ill.

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Hollywood Pro-Life?

Posted on: 02/13/08 12:14 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Is Hollywood slowly turning pro-life?

I must be seeing things. No, it’s true. In the past year I’ve seen more secular movies and TV shows address the issue, not in a militant Operation Rescue fashion, but in a very real sense of simply proposing, “I think having the baby is the right thing to do!”

The current issue of Christianity Today just chimed in on this fact in this article, proposing…

In some ways, 2007 was the Year of Pro-Life Cinema. From the church-friendly Bella to the raunchy Knocked Up, film after film depicted its main character facing an unplanned pregnancy and opting not for abortion, but for carrying the unborn child to term. Sometimes the mother kept the baby (Knocked Up, Waitress), and sometimes she gave the baby up for adoption (Bella, Juno, August Rush). But in each of these films, the mother, and sometimes the father, made a critical decision that was decidedly “pro-life.”

And last weekend, NBC’s Friday Night Lights delivered one of the most powerful pro-life speeches I’ve heard in recent years. Crippled quarterback Jason Street pleads with a “one night stand” to keep their child. He goes on to describe the baby growing in her, the little hands forming… a powerful talk.

The incredible thing about all of this attention on the issue is the fact that these aren’t obscure little films. Juno is huge right now (it’s made over 109 million) and a ton of our kids are seeing it. And sadly, a ton of our kids saw the very R-rated Knocked Up (really raunchy film, with a really cool theme). The value of the life of the unborn child is being placed on kids’ minds, and this generation is always open to share their point of view on an issue.

If you’re looking for discussion starters on the subject, a few weeks ago we wrote a free MOVIE CLIP DISCUSSION on our web site using a scene from Bella that’s a great one to use.

This is a good time to have conversations with kids about the issue.

(thanks to my brotha Thom for the email and CT link)


She’s Like So Whatever…

Posted on: 02/12/08 3:06 PM | by Jonathan McKee

On March 5th Avril Lavigne kicks off her two-month-long tour, named in true Avril fashion, “The Best Damn Tour.”

If you don’t recognize her name, don’t worry… your kids do. Or you might have heard her lyrics in the checkout line at Wall Mart:

She’s like so whatever
You can do so much better
I think we should get together now
And that’s what everyone’s talking about

Hey hey, you you
I don’t like your girlfriend…

Or, maybe you heard the “unedited” version that hides in the “Favorites” section of many of our kids’ iPods with these lyrics:

Don’t pretend
I think you know
I’m damn precious
And hell yeah
I’m the mother f***ing princess
I can tell you like me too
And you know I’m right…

Avril has been on my mind lately. I was just reminded of her when I heard her mentioned in our recent podcast– Episode #11 about women in ministry– Danette, Brandon and I commented about Lavigne and some of her recent choices. We like her spunk, and she’s really talented. But like most celebs of late, she seems to be ignoring the fact that children (yes, literally children) everywhere look up to her as a role model.

She doesn’t seem to mind that bad press. Last Summer she opened the door to more criticism when she showed up “almost topless” on the cover of Blender Magazine (a shot of her topless with a banner blocking her chest saying, “Hell Yeah, I’m Hot!”). MTV news interviewed her in this May article for the truth behind the cover:

Lavigne has certainly come a long way since her innocent days as punk princess of the mall. In recent months, she’s been known to spit on and flip off paparazzi. She’s also bragged about booze-soaked nights — “I wrote ‘Girlfriend’ when I was drunk,” she told us back in February. And now she’s taking it all off?

The blogosphere is abuzz this week over the June cover image for Blender magazine, in which the singer appears to be naked from the waist up. What really lies beneath that strategically placed headline?

Truth be told, Lavigne revealed to us before taking the stage last night, the photo shoot was a little more innocent than you think. “Actually, I’m not topless on the cover,” she said. “I was wearing a tube top, and they just kind of put a banner on top of it.”

Anyone who looked the popular music magazine would probably argue otherwise.

Her tour is catalysted by the success of her recent album, “The Best Damn Thing” which debuted at the number 1 slot on the ‘Billboard 200’ album charts, an album that included the #1 hit “Girlfriend.”

Keep your eyes on Avril… our kids are.