Connected but Isolated

Posted on: 05/30/08 5:12 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Today I am turning in a draft to my publisher for one of my new books (one that won’t be released until late 2009). The working title is “Connect” (just like my workshop of the same title), with the subtitle, “Engaging One-on-one Relationships in a World of Isolation.”

After spending a couple hours working on the book this morning, I glimpsed at my inbox and saw today’s update from Ypulse.  Anastasia linked a fascinating selection of photos by photographer Evan Baden of today’s young people seemingly mesmerized by the glow of their electronic devices.”

As I read the artist’s explanation of his project… I chuckled because it was almost word for word what I had just written about this generation. (I guess it’s becoming pretty obvious… huh?)

Baden writes (emphasis mine) …

In Westernized cultures today, there is a generation that is growing up without the knowledge of what it is to be disconnected. The world in which we are growing up is always on. We are continuously plugged in, and linked up. We take this technology for granted. Not because we are ungrateful, but because we simply don’t know a world without it.

From our earliest memories, there has always been a way to connect with others, whether it is Myspace, Facebook, cell phones, e-mail, or instant messenger. And now, with the Internet, instant messaging, and e-mail in our pocket, right there with our phones, we can always feel as if we are part of a greater whole. These devices grace us with the ability to instantly connect to others, and at the same time, they isolate us from those with whom we are connected. They allow for great freedom, yet so often, we are chained to them. They have become part of who we are and how we identify ourselves. These devices ordain us with a wealth of knowledge and communication that would have been unbelievable a generation ago. More and more, we are bathed in a silent, soft, and heavenly blue glow. It is as if we carry divinity in our pockets and purses.

Click here for entire the gallary of photos… amazing snapshots of this generation.

That discription about this generation just keeps emerging: Instantly Connected With Others… Yet Isolated from Those Whom We Are Connected.


She Kissed a Girl and Liked It

Posted on: 05/27/08 8:51 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m a regular visitor of the music charts to see what kids are listening to. Today, #3 on iTunes was a song titled “I Kissed a Girl.” No big deal… right?

Well, the song was song by female singer Katy Perry. Here’s the chorus:

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chapstick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don’t mean I’m in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it

I know that the homosexual issue is a touchy one for many people. If you want to read about my stand on the issue, I blogged about it in detail here and link numerous articles on the subject. But in short, I think we as a church need to love homosexuals and embrace them as we do anyone else. At the same time, I think homosexual activity is wrong and leads to hurt.

This song isn’t so much about homosexual activity as it is just “doing what feels good at the moment.” Just like current hit songs “Lollipop” or “Love in the Club,” this song preaches, “follow your gut in the moment.” Another misleading message for our kids.

Singer Katy Perry first emerged on the scene last fall with her her ‘explicit’ EP “Ur So Gay.” Her new song “I Kissed a Girl” is only three weeks on the charts and is already #3 on iTunes, and #29 on Billboard’s Pop 100 Airplay chart.

According to a brief bio on, this young singer grew up in a Christian home the daughter of two pastors and as a teenager she found herself captivated by Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury and also Alanis Morissette.”  Really?

Keep your eye on this song… I only see it becoming more popular.

Here’s the entire lyrics.

Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl lyrics

This was never the way I planned
Not my intention
I got so brave, drink in hand
Lost my discretion
It’s not what, I’m used to
Just wanna try you on
I’m curious for you
Caught my attention

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chapstick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don’t mean I’m in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it

No, I don’t even know your name
It doesn’t matter
Your my experimental game
Just human nature
It’s not what, good girls do
Not how they should behave
My head gets so confused
Hard to obey

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chapstick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don’t mean I’m in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it

Us girls we are so magical
Soft skin, red lips, so kissable
Hard to resist so touchable
Too good to deny it
Ain’t no big deal, it’s innocent

I kissed a girl and I liked it
The taste of her cherry chapstick
I kissed a girl just to try it
I hope my boyfriend don’t mind it
It felt so wrong
It felt so right
Don’t mean I’m in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it
I liked it

Yo Mama Showdown and Other Rejected Games

Posted on: 05/23/08 9:53 AM | by Jonathan McKee

As most of you know, our website has a huge collection of free game ideas for youth ministry. Many of these are submitted by youth workers around the world, screened, and added by us.

Have you ever wondered what the reject pile looks like?

We receive new game submissions almost daily. 50% of them are games we already have on our site. 30% just don’t make the cut. 10% are ludicrous… and we use that remaining 10% that are good.

The ludicrous category can be pretty funny. Years ago I shared a hilarious idea submitted from New Zealand that will make your insurance agent crease his seat! I’ll let you use the link to read it… but the title of the game is: Fireball Soccer.  I even posted a funny response from another Kiwi who actually played the game, only getting mild burns. I used that as an opportunity to create a hypothetical Top 10 list of games that your insurance won’t cover. Then a couple years later, in the aftermath of the WORLD Magazine’s rediculous thrashing of our website, I shared some other hilarious game additions and submissions.

This week we received another submission that won’t make our page- for obvious reasons… but a funny idea none-the-less. The idea is called the Yo Mamma Joke Showdown.

Yo Mama Jokes Showdown
Choose 2 volunteers to play who are ‘good at telling jokes’.  Have both volunteers leave the room for 2-3 minutes.  During that time each contestant will be given a sheet of written ‘Yo Mamma’ jokes.  Contestants will study sheets preparing for the showdown.  Once contestants are called back in, they will get up on stage and take turns telling ‘Yo Mama’ jokes. The first person who runs out of jokes loses.  The last one standing gets a prize.  I used the game as an intro to a teaching on the power of our words.

Yo mama so fat when her beeper goes off, people think she’s backing up.
Yo mama so fat she went to the movies and sat next to everyone.
Yo mama so fat last time she went to the beach people started running around yelling ‘Free Willy’.
Yo mama so fat that if you stand on her belly your ears pop!
Yo mama so fat she had to go to Sea World to get baptized.
Yo mama so fat she’s gotta iron her pants in the driveway.
Yo mama so fat she put on her lipstick with a paint-roller.
Yo mama so fat when she wears a yellow shirt, people start callin “Taxi!”
Yo mama so fat she goes to a restaurant looks at the menu and says “okay!”
Yo mama so fat she fell in love and broke it.
Yo mama so fat when she gets on the scale it says, ‘not for livestock’.
Yo mama so fat her neck looks like a pair of hot dogs!
Yo mama so fat she’s got her own area code!
Yo mama so fat that her senior picture had to be taken from a helicopter!
Yo mama so fat the animals at the zoo feed her.
Yo mama so fat they use the elastic in her underwear for bungee jumping.
Yo mama so ugly when she joined an ugly contest, they said “Sorry, no professionals.”
Yo mama so ugly the government moved Halloween to her birthday.
Yo mama so fat that when she heard it was chilly outside, she ran into the backyard with a spoon.
Yo mama so fat that she sat on a Nintendo Gamecube and it turned into a gameboy.
Yo mama so fat she fell into the Grand Canyon….and got stuck!
Yo mama’s so ugly when I took her to the zoo they said, “Thanks for bringin’ back our lost chimp!”
Yo mama’s is so fat she they had to make her car out of spandex.
Yo mama’s so fat she sweats mayonnaise!
Yo mama’s so fat, her belly button has an echo.
Yo mama’s so fat, when she wore a red sweater all of the kids pointed at her and said, “It’s the Kool-Aid Man!!!!”.
Yo mama’s so fat, that she has to put her belt on with a boomerang…


Tragedy at the Steven Curtis Chapman Home

Posted on: 05/22/08 10:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you might have read about the incredible loss Steven Curtis Chapman and his family suffered yesterday in their rural Williamson County home just south of Nashville.

The 5-year-old daughter of Grammy-winning Christian music star Steven Curtis Chapman was struck and killed Wednesday by a sport utility vehicle driven by her brother, authorities said.

Please take a moment and pray for the family. Several family members witnessed the accident.

Maria, one of the Christian singer’s six children, was taken by LifeFlight to Vanderbilt Hospital, which confirmed the death, according to Laura McPherson, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The 5-year-old was hit by an SUV driven by her teenage brother, she said. Police did not give the driver’s name.

The teen was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser down the driveway of the rural home at about 5:30 p.m. and several children were playing in the area, McPherson said. He did not see Maria in the driveway before the vehicle struck her, she said.   –

Pray for the brother who was the driver. I can’t even imagine the regret he must be feeling right now.

Maria was the youngest of the family’s three adopted children.

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Belief in God… Just Not Church

Posted on: 05/20/08 9:47 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last Sunday I provided a quick “youth culture update” to a local group of youth leaders. In this training, I talked about how the majority of this young generation in America is open to God and spiritual beliefs… just not church attendance or organized religion (a fact I discussed in detail in my book about reaching out to the unchurched).

UK opinion columnist Camilla Cavendish draws the same conclusion about people in Britain. In this article she highlights the religious trends report suggesting there will be fewer people attending churches than mosques by 2040. Apparently only 6.3 percent of the UK population attends church on an average Sunday.

But does that mean 93.7 percent are atheists?

Not even close.

Cavendish, a self described “moonlighting agnostic,” gives us a glimpse into the reality that people might be interested in God… they just aren’t interested in church.

There is a fascinating debate to be had about cause and effect. But the only point I want to make is that being a Christian country has always been about more than belief in God and Sunday worship. In the 2001 census, seven in ten people described themselves as Christian, to the astonishment of many bishops; 22 per cent claimed to be still going to church at least once a year.

So Britain is very similar to America in that the majority of the country describe themselves as Christian, but very few attend church. My friend Dan Kimball expands on this phenomena in his book They Like Jesus, But Not the Church.

This coincides with much of what we’re hearing from people in the media (the source where much of this generation are drawing their opinions from). Celebrities make statements frequently that support this kind of thinking. In my Reaching Out to the Unchurched Training I often share quotes from the media preaching “belief in the spiritual” but resistance to “church or religion.”

“I think I find more strength in faith than I do in organized religion.”
– Jon Bon Jovi, Time, August 6, 2007, p. 6.

“I believe there is something out there.  I believe there is an energy, a Karma– you know– what goes around comes around.  And I hope to God that there is an afterlife . . . I don’t go to church that often.  I go for like Easter Sunday.  There is such a short period of time to live and I’d rather spend it ‘living life’ as apposed to sitting down and praying.”
-Hayden Panettiere, Interview, The Source for Youth Ministry

“I grew up in a family that called itself Catholic.  But nobody told me that to pray you have to go to a place.  I’ve always believed in God my own way.”
– Actress Penelope Cruz, Jane, March 2005, p. 109.


I always find it interesting to get a peek into the minds of those we are trying to reach.

Are You Ready for Kids With Special Needs?

Posted on: 05/19/08 9:38 AM | by Jonathan McKee

And I thought I had experienced disruptive kids!

Carol Race can’t take her son to church. One Sunday she tried… and the Sheriff was waiting at the end of her driveway. The church had filed a restraining order. But according to this twin cities Star Tribune article, Carol’s son isn’t your average 13-year-old.

The Rev. Daniel Walz, who did not return calls left at the Church of St. Joseph parish office, wrote in court documents that Adam’s behavior was “extremely disruptive and dangerous.” He alleged that Adam, who is more than 6 feet tall and weighs over 225 pounds, spits and urinates in church and has nearly injured children and elderly people.

Wow. This wouldn’t be an easy situation for anyone. Carol’s son is autistic. Shouldn’t he be able to attend church? At the same time, are there boundaries of what behavior is tolerable?

How do we minister to special needs kids?

My wife volunteered in a Sunday school class where we had several autistic children that attended. Some were pleasant experiences, some were very difficult. If we as the church are unprepared for such a situation, the results can be very unpleasant for everyone. But with a little compassion and some pro-active planning, ministering to special needs kids can be one other aspect of our ministry where we can represent Christ not only in word, but in deed.

Being pro-active to minister to special needs kids always includes two elements:

1. Being prepared to offer one-on-one attention to special needs kids

2. Good communication with the parents

The best help in these situations is always providing “one-on-one” attention to these children. The church I attended realized that many of these special needs kids needed special attention. So the church assigned a single volunteer to these individual kids (yes, it should be no surprise that much of our job as youth or children’s workers is recruiting and managing volunteers). If the kid became too disruptive, then the volunteer could take the child on a walk or in another room. I attended one large church where they had a special room for special needs kids. This was a room set up with special toys and games reserved exclusively for these kids.

An open channel of communication with the parents is also always key. Parents of special needs kids should be assured primarily that we want to serve them and love them and their children. Then ask them for any advice about their child. Be a good listener. As you listen to their needs, explain to them what you can hope to provide with one-on-one attention and any special rooms or services. Then be sure to get a cell phone number or point of connection so you can call them for help if the situation gets out of hand. It’s not unfair to set boundaries.

My sister in law Amy is a speech therapist and works with numerous special needs kids, including autistic children. I emailed her about a special situation with a kid that was very disruptive in a youth group. Her response was very helpful:

To me, the physical outbursts have to be handled – I would definitely talk with the family and if they were unable to help control these, I may have to restrict the son’s involvement in certain events where he was more unmanageable.  I would also consider having some private chats with the regular ed students – how God has made us all in His image, and see if God has placed these (special needs) kids on any of the student’s hearts to directly minister to and “help out.”  It may help make them less “annoying” in the eyes of the group if the group has an opportunity to voice their frustrations and at the same time hear a bit of God’s perspective on these kids of His. 

I love how Amy not only gave good advice about communication and boundaries… but she talked about an opportunity for our entire youth group to minister.

Jesus came across a lot of people with special needs and always seemed to act in compassion. I think we should try to do the same.

Should You See Prince Caspian Tonight?

Posted on: 05/16/08 7:42 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The answer to that question is a definite YES!

It’s been a while since I’ve felt this emotional about a film. I don’t know if it’s because of my recent podcast interview with Douglas Gresham (C.S. Lewis’ stepson), my chat with Switchfoot about their new song in the film, or just the reality of seeing this amazing piece of literature coming to the big screen.

When my brother and I were weee little lads, my family would read the Chronicles of Narnia books after dinner together as a family. We read the whole series. I, in turn, read the series to my kids.

This week, I had the opportunity to bring my family to an early screening of the film (there are occasional perks of reviewing movies) … and wow! (I talk about the experience in my review.)

A quick note about my review. In it, I mention Lord of the Rings. Allow me to chime in on that just a bit. As fantastic as the Narnia films are, I definitely think Lord of the Rings films are superior (strickly from a film making perspective- and don’t let that distract from how great the Narnia films are… I loved them) … but I confess, I’m torn, because I really enjoy the Narnia books more. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the Lord of the Rings books. But as a believer, it’s hard to not love the imagery of Aslan… I get teary every time I read about (or now see in the movies) the kids rolling with Aslan. Wow… powerful stuff. And Caspian has a few awe inspiring Aslan moments that gave me goosebumps. The stories always get me thinking about the love, safety, “awe” and FEAR… that one might feel in the presence of God.

You can catch my review of the film on our MOVIE REVIEWS page.

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Interviewing Switchfoot

Posted on: 05/15/08 8:25 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Today I’m interviewing Switchfoot’s Drew Shirley. I’m doing a little research about the band. Their new song This is Home is the official Prince Caspian song, featured during the ending credits of Prince Caspian releasing in theatres tomorrow.

I saw the screening of Prince Caspian two nights ago… another subject… but let me quickly interject… AWESOME! You can catcha glimpse of both worlds (the world of Switchfoot and Prince Caspian) in Switchfoot’s new video which has clips from the film. Check it out.


Switchfoot wrote this song for the film. I think this was a good choice by the Narnia film-makers, because Switchfoot is made up of true narnia fans. (I remember way back in my previous interview with the band, Chad mentioning what a C.S. Lewis fan he was.)

In their press release for the film, Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman said, “We are so honored to be a part of the Prince Caspian film with ‘This Is Home.’ The Narnia stories have a really special place in my brother Tim and my lives. Our dad used to read these to us at bedtime when we were boys. Our imaginations were shaped on these amazing novels. 

“‘This Is Home’ was inspired by the book after re-reading it for the opportunity to write for the film,” continues Foreman. “I am always taken by [C. S.] Lewis’ ability to write about the bittersweet beauty in this world; this home we aren’t really made for but is the place we work out our humanity in the midst of our longing for our true home.”

Cool stuff!

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Struggling With Juno

Posted on: 05/14/08 6:33 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The movie Juno, which only this week was bumped from the number two spot in DVD rentals, has been at the top of the rental charts since its release on April 15th . Kids love it.

I, however, am a little torn.

If you work with youth or have kids, you’ve probably already heard about this film about a young girl that gets pregnant and decides to keep the child and put it up for adoption (I mentioned this film in a previous blog about the surprising number of secular films this year with pro-life themes). Kids love Juno and critics are raving about it. I’ve even heard the youth ministry community praising it. And I can see why youth workers enjoy the movie– it’s an authentic look at youth culture today. But I have to admit, I struggled with this film.

Here were my thoughts that I recently added to our ministry’s movie review page:

This film had me torn from the beginning.

If you’re like me, you went into this film hearing all the hype about what a wonderful film this is, Oscar potential, blah, blah, blah. (Besides… do the words “Oscar potential” mean anything to you? Did you actually see There Will Be Blood? Zzzzzzzzzz) Everyone is recommending Juno. So I admit… I had high expectations going into it.

To summarize my thoughts I’ll have to resort to bullets for this one.


  • Ellen Page was really a likable character, warts and all. She reminded me of several of my Campus Life kids from back in the day.
  • Jennifer Garner was surprisingly good. She wasn’t the typical “Alias” eye candy… she did some real acting here.
  • Like so many films this year, the value of life was communicated… even if in an awkward way.
  • The characters were very real. Very 2007. Not just a bunch of “actor models” who got the roles… but real people. Very convincing.


  • I had heard that this was a good film for teenagers. In one of the first scenes we see a shot of a girl’s legs as her panties are dropped to the floor. Then she climbs on top of a guy. Yes, they didn’t show nudity. Yes, I know that’s what the film was about (a girl getting pregnant). But guess what… I don’t want my kids seeing the action- even just the beginning of it.
  • Juno was a fun character, but she was really foul. I have loved plenty of kids like this in my ministry and still do. But in this film, she was almost a role model. Her bad decisions, her lack of tact, and her foul mouth were almost given a stamp of approval. I realize that this is a hard balance to find. I love kids like this. But it doesn’t mean that I want kids to grow up thinking that it is “okay” to grow up acting like that.
  • The film showed very little consequences of behavior. The film was fun and light, and I think those elements made the movie enjoyable. But the film didn’t seem to show any of the pain or consequences from the behaviors. Sure, Juno got pregnant. But it was treated like, “no big deal.”
  • Similar to the last two bullets, this film contained a lot of immitatable behavior. And being that this is currently the MOST popular rental of the year… wow!

I think that most kids shouldn’t see it. I might show my older teenagers this film when they are 16 or older (depending on their maturity) if we went to dinner and talked about the film afterwards. I would need to talk through the bullets highlighted above.

But there is no way I’d show this to junior higher or younger. Come on people– how fast do we want our kids to grow up? Yes, I’m a huge advocate of talking with our kids about real life. But we don’t need to shove it down their throats early. Let it come as it comes. And then be open for those conversations.