When Walt Recommends It…

Posted on: 02/27/09 9:45 AM | by Jonathan McKee

If you have any interest in connecting with youth today, I have two fantastic resources for you. One is a Four Minute video on YouTube, the other is a podcast. Both free. (and as you know, my motto is, “If it’s free, it’s for me!”)

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the resources my friend Walt Mueller provides, or his ministry over at www.CPYU.org … truly the hub of youth culture from a Christian perspective. Over a decade ago I read an article from Walt about the teenage mindset and I was hooked. Since then we’ve taught at conventions together and endorsed each other’s books. I love what he does. Walt is THE youth culture guy.

I connected with Walt recently and we made sure to hit the “record” button so you could enjoy our interaction. So enjoy two glimpses of our conversation: a new Four Minutes video, where Walt takes us through a bookstore and recommends some good youth culture reading, and then we have an entire podcast where my good buddy Brandon and I sit with Walt and pick his brain about youth culture today (he shares the “Seven Deadly Sins of Engaging Youth Culture”).

Enjoy both these free resources.

Here’s the Four Minutes Video:

(CLICK HERE for that video if you receive this blog via email or RSS)


In our podcast with Walt, we talk about the many ways that youth workers can interact with kids by understanding youth culture.

Podcast Episode Highlights:
  – Learn how to develop a biblical theology of faith and culture
  – Learn why Brandon no longer wears his nose ring
  – Hear why Walt calls youth culture “the soup kids are swimming in today”
  – Take an in-depth look at problems with self-esteem and depression, and their dangerous side effects

Listen to it now for free on iTunes! (CLICK HERE) Or, if you don’t have iTunes already… jump on Apple’s web page for a free download, then click on our podcast page.

In the Midst of Trials… You Found Me

Posted on: 02/25/09 10:03 AM | by Jonathan McKee

If you listen to secular radio, you probably are familiar with the popular new song from The Fray, You Found Me.

The Fray is an interesting band. Songs of their songs like How to Save a Life have not only been huge hits, but they ask big questions. The band’s frontman Isaac Slade claims to be a Christian (I say “claims” because we’ve all heard Kanye West, Beyonce, Usher, etc. make the same claim. Sadly many celebs claim it in word, but not in action). The Fray’s albums are not only intelligent and catchy, they are clean. Wow. The whole package! I just purchased their newest album on iTunes and have been listening to it on my iPod.

Their song You Found Me asks a question many have asked: Where can we find God in the midst of trials and tragedies?

I liked the song so much, I decided that we needed to write a MUSIC DISCUSSION STARTER with it on our web site. My buddy Lane Palmer wrote it up for us, using a passage from Job and including small group questions. It’s a great write up. I encourage you to check it out.

Oreo Games and Camp Food

Posted on: 02/24/09 8:39 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I want to take a moment to give a little shout out to Camp Orchard Hill, a small little camp  in Dallas, PA (yeah, that’s not a typo… there is a Dallas in Pennsylvania. It’s about 30 minutes from Scranton).

As you can imagine, I have been to quite a few camps. I limit my speaking to twice a month away from my family, but with about half of my engagements being camps or retreats, that’s still about 12 camps a year (that’s a lot of camp food). Camp Orchard Hill (COH) stands out in the crowd for several reasons:

1. The leadership – these guys are legit. They care about the kids’ spiritual transformation, and they also want the kids to have a good time. I’ve been at camps where “program” was too heavy. I’ve been at others where the spiritual impact is minimal. This camp provides fun and spiritual transformation.

2. The food- yes… most camp food stinks! But at COH, Lisa is in the kitchen making food that you’ve never tasted at a camp! I’m not kidding. The kids really notice.

3. Activities- these guys provide activity options nonstop. (this is especially great for middle school) Even during lunch they run little “Up Front Games” in the cafeteria. Kids loved it. This last weekend a game called OREO HEAD was a big hit. I’ve seen this game on my site before, but had never seen it done. It was hilarious.  A kid gets an open faced Oreo stuck to his head, and without using their hands, they have to contort their faces to maneuver the Oreo down to their face and mouth. Funny stuff.

I’ve bragged about camps before. You’ve heard me brag about Timberlee (East Troy, WI) in several podcasts, and I’ve also bragged about Redwood Alliance on the West Coast (also great food). I have to add Camp Orchard Hill to the list of my favorites. Funny… their facility is actually small (they are growing- building some new facilities right now) … nothing fancy. They can only handle small groups- just a couple hundred kids. But I find that the “camp experience” is so much more than cabins and fancy dining halls. Leadership means everything.

Back in Cali

Posted on: 02/23/09 12:58 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Well… it’s just past midnight here in Cali, which means that it’s 3-something in PA. Luckily, I don’t think my body ever switched to East Coast time. I just got done with my 13 hour journey home (including layovers and drive time). My weekend speaking went well… a couple quick things to share, then I’m OFF TO BED!

First… by God’s grace a dozen kids accepted Christ. I’m always jazzed when kids put their trust in Him. This was a much smaller camp that I was speaking at, but I’m excited when just one kid makes a decision for Christ.

It was cool hearing the different leaders tell me the stories of the kids that made decisions. One of the groups had four girls stand up and make a decision. Three of them were first time decisions. The other girl said that she had only been believing in “word,” not in “action.” (Hey… she listened! Cool!) She made a commitment to make some changes and get rid of some “junk” in her life.

So praise God for those kids.

Secondly, I want to brag on a band for a moment. This is my fourth time working with this band. They are an East Coast band. Not only are they talented musically, they are humble and team players. That’s huge for me.

I spoke another camp recently where the band was VERY talented… great musicians… but they were loose cannons. They didn’t listen to a word that the camp director or I said. (Funny, when a band leader asks me, “What can I do to make the transition to you smooth?” I assume that he really wants to know! 🙂  Funny… this guy asked me the question, pretended to listen, and then did exactly what the heck he wanted!)

The band I worked with this weekend was a joy to work with. They are called Saline and here’s their web site: www.SalineMusic.com

I’m tired. I’m going to bed!

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Posted on: 02/19/09 11:39 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s time for me to go to the great state of Pennsylvania once again (yes, speaking in PA for the second time this month). Tomorrow I fly through Chicago to Scranton, PA, where I’ll grab a car and drive to a small town called Dallas, PA and speak at a camp for the weekend.

I’ll be speaking to a few hundred middle school kids Friday night, Saturday morning and evening… and closing off Sunday morning. For those of you who’d be willing to pray… If I can ask, please pray as I’ll be presenting the Gospel on Friday night, then spending time talking about living a “real faith” the rest of the weekend. I love middle schoolers.

The weather doesn’t look half bad for PA at this time… in the teens. Still cold for this California boy! But I always appreciate prayer for my travels. It basically will take me about 12 to 13 hours just to get from my front door to the camp’s front door… then another 12 to 13 back home Sunday.

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More Loyal to Toothpaste Brand Than Church?

Posted on: 02/18/09 3:22 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Another example of “what the world thinks of us.”

USA Today puts it like this:

Some Americans are more loyal to their toothpaste or toilet paper than to their religious denomination, making those consumers more choosy about Charmin or Colgate than they are about church, according to a new survey.

According to a Phoenix-based research firm, 16% of Protestants say they would consider only one denomination, while 22% of them would use only one brand of toothpaste and 19% would use just one brand of bathroom tissue.

Sigh. I don’t think I’ll even comment.

(ht to Jamie L.)

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Hip Hop Livin’ Large

Posted on: 02/17/09 10:39 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Eminem, Kanye West, T-Pain, Beyonce, Flo Rida, T.I., Lil Wayne… these artist all know what #1 tastes like, and they all continue to dominate the top of the charts.

In my youth culture section of my seminars some youth workers seem surprised when I report the fact that Hip Hop and R&B are the most popular music choice of today’s generation over all. In my Getting Students to Show Up book, I revealed the results of a 2005 Kaiser study (among 7th to 12th graders who listen to recorded music in a typical day) where Hip Hop/Rap was not only the #1 music category (65 %), but it attracted more than twice the number of the second place category, Alternative rock (32 percent)(Kaiser report, page 29).

I was looking at the music charts today and we still see that trend, despite the speckles of rock and alternative that have maintained a strong second (with country hanging in there, thanks especially to youngins like Taylor Swift who often have a song in the top 10).

Today the #1 downloaded iTunes song is from Flo Rida, the rapper who had the number one dowloaded song of last year, also Billboard’s Hot 100 #1 song of last year. His new #1 song is Right Round (with a chorus that many of us who grew up in the 80’s will recognize).

Seven of the ten top 10 songs on iTunes right now would be in the Hip Hop/rap/R&B category.

Billboard’s Top 100 tells a similar story, with Eminem, Dr. Dre & 50 Cent riding #1 with their explicit song Crack a Bottle (#2 on iTunes right now). Sadly, when kids go to download this one on iTunes they’ll be downloading not only curse words, but the typical foul raunch that Eminem usually offers (along with some of the greatest beats ever made- thank you Dr. Dre. If we could only get this guy to lay down some beats for some clean music).

Billboard’s Hot 100 only has five of their top 10 songs in the in the Hip Hop/rap/R&B category (granted, it’s the #1, 2, 3, 5 and 9 slot), with the other five divided from different genres, from pop (Kelly Clarkson’s My Life Would Suck Without You), Alternative (The All-American Rejects’ song Gives You Hell), Country’s Taylor Swift, as well as the very melodic sound of Jason Mraz and The Fray.

A click at Billboard’s entire Hot 100 list reveals a majority of the top 11-50 in the in the Hip Hop/rap/R&B category.

The grammys gave us a glimpse of this, with Lil Wayne not only nominated for the most awards, but taking home four awards for his “art.” (sigh)

A lot of us might be concerned about the explicit and highly sexualized content in most of Hip Hop/rap/R&B music (we’ve talked about this in past Youth Culture Window articles). I agree. But that doesn’t mean denying the facts. I’ve literally had youth workers angry at me for reporting these facts. “My kids listen to rock! I don’t care what those stats say!”


Yes, classic rock is definitely coming back thanks to the number one video game at the moment, Guitar Hero. But rock, alternative and country are still just riding the coat tails of the hip hop industry. Like it or not… the genre is still dominating.

Romance This Weekend

Posted on: 02/13/09 11:14 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m excited… this weekend is Valentines Day, and I’m actually home with my wife and family (don’t even ask how many times I’ve been traveling speaking on this weekend! It’s good to be home.)

Tonight i’m going out to the movies with my li’l lady and some good friends of ours. We’re going to grab dinner and a quick movie (the Kevin James mall cop flick… looks funny. Plus, I need to preview it because my kids want to see it- I don’t trust PG-13). Then tomorrow night we’re just hanging at home. Probably hang with the kids for a while, then break out a box of Kleenex and watch Nights in Rodanthe (with Richard Gere and Diane Lane- it’s based on the book by Nicholas Sparks- the guy who wrote The Notebook, A Walk to Remember and Message in a Bottle). I actually saw the film on the plane a couple weeks ago. I wasn’t planning on watching the whole thing… but I got sucked in. I knew Lori would like it… so i just rented it for V-day.  🙂  (Definitely a snuggle on the couch together movie)

That’s my big plans for the weekend… nothing much… but it’s always fun to have an excuse for even more romance. I hope the rest of you married folks have something special planned!

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The New Place Where Kids Will Find Porn

Posted on: 02/12/09 10:16 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Just when you thought there couldn’t be any more porn…

The problem of porn is only growing. Parents already have to put safeguards on their TVs and computers… but that doesn’t cover what could be the largest provider of porn in the next couple of years. Take it from author, speaker, radio show host, Jim Burns:

“By the year 2011… the cell phone will be the greatest provider of internet pornography.” -Jim Burns, HomeWord.com

Those of you who are  EZINE subscribers or on our web site regularly probably already saw our new Four Minutes Video this week. Jim Burns addresses the problem of cellular porn.

(if you receive this blog via email and can’t see the video above, CLICK HERE to see Jim address this issue.)

In addition, CLICK HERE to Download Jim’s FREE Curriculum THE PURITY CODE.

18 Foot Python Attacks Three Year Old

Posted on: 02/11/09 10:22 AM | by Jonathan McKee

18 Foot Python + Child = lunch?

I’m not great at math… but I’ve read enough Far Side Tales to easily see this formula come to fruition. A family decided to take care of their friends’ 18 foot reticulated python. The snake get’s loose (well… yeah!), and it attacks the kid and his mother.

This is crazy… check out just a snippet from this article:

“It took all six of us to get that snake into custody.  It made just a little loop on my hand while we were wrestling with it, and it felt like a vice.  I’ve never felt anything like that,” says Metro Sergeant, Steve Custer.

Custer and officer, Jerry Ybarra, have almost half a century of law enforcement experience between them, but even that could not prepare them for the snake attack they rushed to Tuesday.

“We go into bars after bad guys all the time, guns, never blink an eye, but we looked at that snake, and there was a lot of dancing and screaming going on,” says Custer.

“Once animal control got there, we’d try to grasp him with her little tool that she has, and he would just hiss at us, and that was pretty terrifying,” adds Ybarra.

The Reticulated Python was about eighteen feet long, far bigger than the three-year-old boy it had wrapped itself around.

Hmmmm. Keeping a snake near a toddler. I’ll put this right next to “buy Lil Wayne album” in my parenting “to do” list.

The parents are now being charged- the video here.

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