Ministry in Wide Open Places

Posted on: 03/31/08 5:28 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I just finished speaking at an event in South Dakota this past weekend. On Saturday night I spoke with a challenge to reach out beyond our church walls, and on Sunday afternoon I did a workshop for parents.

Saturday evening was a lot of fun. It was a hard speaking venue because I followed a really funny comedian (which made my “serious” talk quite the contrast. It worked… but it was tough. But I have to brag about this comedian. His name is  Tim Hawkins and this guy was one of the most hilarious guys I’ve ever seen.

Let me be clear. This isn’t a youth speaker who uses a little bit of humor. This is a guy who plays comedy clubs around the country (trust me- he ain’t cheap). But this guy had everyone crying they were laughing so hard.

Here’s a sample:

He uses a guitar for about a third of his act doing takeoffs of popular songs. Again- hilarious! Here’s his video, “Cletus Take the Reel.”

You’ll see other clips of him on YouTube- I love his Homeschool video too. You can find some other clips of him on his site.

The weekend was really fun, until trying to get home. My flight from Sioux Falls was delayed last night (Sunday)and I got stuck in Denver (missing my layover). I’m at an airport hotel right now about to catch a shuttle back to the airpot and fly home. I hope to catch up today and blog more tomorrow.

I wanted to take a second and make a few comments about the people of South Dakota. Great folks. I was in Huron. A lot of farmers and ranchers. I spoke for a youth network that brought together people from churches of all denominations. We had Methodist, Baptists and Catholics all in the same room. Great fun.

Gotta run!

Thanks for your prayers.

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South Dakota

Posted on: 03/29/08 3:48 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s 3:40 AM Saturday (yeah, trust me, I’m TIRED!) and I’m getting ready to head out to the airport to hop on the first flight out to Denver, then on to South Dakota. I will land in Sioux Falls and then drive into Huron where I’ll be speaking at an event tonight, then teaching a parenting workshop on Sunday afternoon (then flying home Sunday night).

This is an exciting trip. When I speak on Saturday night I’ll be speaking to parents and kids. It’s a big event that will be bringing out a huge portion of the small community as well as people from surrounding communities. It’s a church audience and my challenge will be to reach out beyond the church walls.

Sunday is a parent workshop. I’ll be talking to about 125 to 150 parents about today’s youth culture and raising our kids right before rebellion. I love this kind of training workshop… I’m looking forward to it.

Huron, SD is one of the coldest places I have been! Last time I traveled there it was about 7 degrees and the people there were excited how warm it was! I learned to appreciate heated seats (before then, I always wondered about the need of that. Now I don’t ask.) I checked and it’s supposed to be 42 in SD today. (Whew!) That’s still a tad colder than my chilly Sacramento 62 degrees today.

Well… off I go. If you think of it, please pray for my speaking and my travel.

Thanks so much for your prayers

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Stop at Nothing to Be the Best Bimbo

Posted on: 03/27/08 11:17 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“What do you want to be when you grow up Kelsey?”

“I want to be a bimbo!”

Where is this kind of thinking coming from? How about a new UK website aimed at girls 9-16 that gives users “bimbo dollars’ for plastic surgery, diet pills and risque nightclub outfits. Over 200,000 UK kids are playing the online game called “Miss Bimbo” (1.2 million played when it was released in France). CNN says, Girls are encouraged to compete against each other to become the “hottest, coolest, most famous bimbo in the whole world.”

I jumped on the site myself to check it out.  It’s not shy about it. It says right there on the front page: Even resort to meds or plastic surgery. Stop at nothing to become the reigning bimbo !

TimesOnline from across the pond reports:

A website that encourages girls as young as 9 to embrace plastic surgery and extreme dieting in the search for the perfect figure was condemned as lethal by parents’ groups and healthcare experts yesterday.

The Miss Bimbo internet game has attracted prepubescent girls who are told to buy their virtual characters breast enlargement surgery and to keep them “waif thin” with diet pills.

Healthcare professionals, a parents’ group and an organisation representing people suffering anorexia and bulimia criticised the website for sending a dangerous message to impressionable children.

In the month since it opened the site, which is aimed at girls aged from 9 to 16, has attracted 200,000 members. Players keep a constant watch on the weight, wardrobe, wealth and happiness of their character to create “the coolest, richest and most famous bimbo in the world”. Competing against other children they earn “bimbo dollars” to buy plastic surgery, diet pills, facelifts, lingerie and fashionable nightclub outfits.

The website sparked controversy when it was introduced in France, where it attracted 1.2 million players.
(ht to Anastasia for this link)

The game is under further investigation over fears that it encourages kids to spend real money texting, racking up big phone bills. reports:

Miss Bimbo is free to play, but players can earn in-game ‘dollars’ by sending in text messages which cost £1.50 a time.

Fox News also chimes in on the issue.

And here is an MSN video on the subject.


Famous for What?

Posted on: 03/26/08 10:12 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I love this little CNN news peice titled, “Famous for what?”

And that’s exactly what it’s about. People who are famous for… what? Think… Paris Hilton. Yeah. Exactly!

CNN’s thoughts on this subject could be summarized with this statement, “It used to be that fame had something to do with talent.”

I think I find it more interesting just observing how much our society values “fame” at all.

Here’s their two cents.

“Back in Hollywood in the golden era, celebrities knew that they should be famous for what they were actually good at which was acting, performing. They knew that less was more. When it came to their private lives, they only gave us a little bit of a glimpse. So they remained mysterious and they became icons. I don’t think we’re going to be looking at Cary Grant and Paris Hilton in the same way in generations to come.”

Click here for the whole video.

My two cents: Fame definately has changed along with everything else in this culture. Reality TV has probably lowered the bar, changing the old criteria for who can and can not be famous. Is this a bad thing?

What qualities do our kids perceive as valuable: beauty, money, or dare I say… scandal? (in the times where a sex tape or a viral nude photo can springboard someone to stardom?) What message is this communicating to our kids? (Read David’s youth culture window article  this week to see one effect this is having on young girls.)


Cell Phone Use at Youth Group

Posted on: 03/25/08 9:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

In our current THE SOURCE podcast (Episode #13) I promised I’d blog about it. It’s something youth leaders all deal with. We’ve heard it countless times: Every kid in our youth room has a cell phone in their pocket!
How do I communicate to kids to stop texting during worship?
  – Can I say “no cell phones” on our trips?
What if parents WANT their kids to have cell phones with them?

These are great questions. And, as we said in our podcast, we WANT YOU to help us answer. Here’s the situation:

In the HELP ME section of our most recent podcast, youth worker Matt from Longview, TX asked us:

Our small youth group (25-30) has taken to text-messaging on their cell phones. I’m not against cell phone use, but it has become a distraction. Have you got any ideas for boundaries/limits to cell phone use during youth group activities? Secondly, have you got any clever ideas on how to address the youth with these boundaries? Do you know of successful ways of dealing with this issue? -Matt Longview, TX, USA

In the podcast David and I shared some funny “cell phone” experiences and provided our 2 cents on the matter. The most difficult situation to figure out was what to do on trips. After all, many parents want their kids to have their cell phones so they can be reached (have you read about the epidemic of helicopter parents?). David suggested that we don’t circumvent parents’ authority on the matter, and allow cell phones. Just tell kids to not use cell phones EXCEPT to communicate with their parents.

This, of course, brought a skeptical laugh out of me. So I asked David, “How the heck do you monitor that?!!”

It’s not an easy answer. And there probably isn’t ONE answer. So… we want to hear from you.

  • How do you control cell phone use at youth group?

  • Do you allow cell phones on trips?

  • Should we put the foot down and say, “no cell phones” on trips?

  • If we allow cell phones on trips, how can we control use?

Share your 2 cents by commenting below. (and if you’re not yet a subscriber to this blog, just click on the red word “Subscribe” on the left side bar and sign up. It’s free and it will keep you current)

Inside the Mind of Tweens and Teens

Posted on: 03/24/08 8:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This week we’ve been researching the self esteem of young girls. David wrote an amazing peice of research in this week’s Youth Culture Window- take a peek at that if you haven’t seen it. (More on that later this week.)

But today I want you to take a look at an amazing blog that reveals the secrets of tweens and teens. Heartbreaking to read. is a site that already draws kids with it’s fun blogging about Miley Cyrus, the Jonas brothers, etc. But this site offers something unique to members: a place to share your secrets! And that feature provides an incredible window into the hurting souls of youth today. (Thanks to Marko for the link) 

Take a peek at some of the secrets kids posted on this page.

“well.. im going out wit a guy and everone knows it. but secretly we make out, etc..” 

“I’m so confussed i don’t know if i like guys, girls,or both.” 

“!~I want 2 have sex, but im 13~! i also wish i can tell all my friends bout da true way i feel about EVERYTHING but i no dey would criticize me cuz dey hav b4!”

“um when i was at my best freinds house i did “stuff” with her Boy freind. IN her room” 

“i have though about througing up a few times just to lose wheight 

“My secret is kinda wierd. I’m going out with this huy and i dont think hes that cute but he’s really nice” 

“i feel like im about to explode. my heart hurts. i want this guy so badly, but he’s not online, so i cant talk to him, and now he might not even come to my party. hes my friends friend, and i havnt talked to him since 1st grade, but i’ve been dreaming about him. i want to explode with anxiety, anger, dissapointment and love. i NEED a boyfriend.” 

“I want a boy to like me. not that freaky boy that already does, but a boy that I could like back.

“well. my boyfriend broke up with me becuz i didnt hug him 1 time and i feel stupid”

“I’m freaking fat! Omg I’ 13, but I’m 138 lbs! *sniffle*” 

“I wish my mom wouldn’t think I’m a perfect little angel… becuase I’m not!!” 


Did You Miss It?

Posted on: 03/21/08 8:28 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“This is an awareness test.”

That’s how this 55 second viral YouTube video starts. Go ahead… give it a try. Because during this Easter season, this “test” brings up a pretty good point.

Watch closely: 

It’s easy to miss something you’re not looking for.


Don’t miss celebrating the true meaning behind Easter this weekend.

Posted in Faith, Humor |  | Leave A Comment

Teacher Doesn’t Let Kid Pee

Posted on: 03/19/08 1:05 PM | by Jonathan McKee

When you gotta go you gotta go!

Mark this one under the category of “Oooops,” I guess I handled that one poorly!”

I suppose this Meadowbrook Middle School teacher didn’t take the kid seriously. Last Thursdaym, after lunch, a sixth grade student asked the teacher to use the restroom. She refused. Her exact words: “You have two choices. You can pee in this…” and pointed to the kids lunchbox, “…or pee in your pants.”

Imagine her surprise when he decided that the lunchbox was a good solution (or should I say, the location of his “solution.”)

CNN online video provides the perspective of a few classmates and parents.


Posted in News, Youth Culture |  | Leave A Comment


Posted on: 03/14/08 11:50 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Some of you are familiar with my MOVIE REVIEW page on our web site. I just viewed Beowulf recently to write a review. Wow. I just saw new boundaries for PG-13 (of course, you can also get the “unrated” director’s cut). If I only would have watched the special features section on the DVD first then I could have heard the director’s intentions– and I quote:

“This is Beowulf… It’s gonna be no bullsh**, and it’s gonna be just the way it is.  In the process, it’ll evolve and we’ll figure out what the movie is. Right now, I can only say that this has nothing to do with the Beowulf that you were forced to read in junior high school.  It’s all about eating, drinking, killing, and fornicating.”  –Robert Zemeckis

And take it from me… that summarizes it well. (You can read my entire review of that film here.)

Hmmmmm. Dorothy… we ain’t in Kansas anymore!