A Sunday School Teacher

Posted on: 04/13/09 9:18 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It seems that the words “pastor,” “priest” or “Sunday school teacher” used to bring good thoughts to mind. Unfortunately, it seems that the headlines of late are filled with bad examples of people that hold these titles.

Many of you have probably followed the story of the 8-year-old girl that disappeared on March 27th, only to be found last week in a piece of luggage pulled from an irrigation pond near her home in Tracy, CA… about an hour from my house. Sad story. Keep the family of this little girl in your prayers.

Last Saturday I woke up to reports from my local news announcing that her Sunday school teacher was just arrested in the slaying of the 8-year-old. The next morning, newspapers were filled with headlines like this article : Sunday School Teacher Arrested In Cantu’s Death.

Two thoughts about these headlines:

1. Regardless of how this turns out, the church’s reputation is being dragged through the mud once again. Thanks to a small percentage of weirdos, It’s getting more and more difficult to place positive adult role models in the lives of kids because of incidents like these. If a female Sunday School teacher- also a mom– isn’t safe… who is? (I touched on this before is this blog)

2. The church needs to be better about screening volunteers. It’s sad, but we sometimes get either too lazy or too desperate for help to go through the proper steps of recruiting and screening volunteers. I go through these steps in great detail in my book THE NEW BREED, a book about Recruiting, Training, Managing and Occasionally Even Firing Today’s Volunteers.

My dad, who co-authored that volunteer book with me, recently pastored a church where they needed to implement some policies and procedures to screen volunteers. They all used GROUP’s Church Volunteer Central – an online package for background checks, etc. I highly recommend using something like this to screen our volunteers.

I just started coaching track as a volunteer for my daughter’s middle school. I had to get fingerprinted, a background check, the whole deal. As churches, we need to provide the same sort of care and professionalism with our volunteers.

Does Street Evangelism Work?

Posted on: 04/10/09 2:22 PM | by Jonathan McKee

A few weeks ago I read an amazing article from Salon.com written by a non Christian college student who went undercover as a believer on a missions trip with Liberty University, reaching out to the “lost” people partying during spring break at Daytona Beach, FL . This guy actually enrolled at Liberty (as in “Jerry Falwell’s” Liberty) to learn the inside scoop about evangelicals first hand.

After a few paragraphs I was hooked. I read every word of the lengthy testimonial. This amazing article not only provided amazing insight into the mind of an unbeliever, it proposed glaring questions about the success of this kind of evangelism methodology.

Here’s just a snippet of the article:

When we get to Daytona, Scott guides us through an all-morning training session on the whys and hows of evangelism. We sit on folding chairs in the Sunday School room of First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, our makeshift headquarters, and eat snack-size bags of pretzels while Scott recites the “Great Commission,” the verse that serves as the architectural frame for all missionary work. It’s found in Matthew 28:19, when Jesus says to his disciples, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

“The first thing you should think when you meet anyone,” Scott says, “is ‘Are they saved?'” It’s safe to assume that almost everyone coming to Daytona for Spring Break is unsaved, he says, adding, “It’s a very dark place out there.”

Before we take our evangelical Delta Force to the beach, though, we need to learn how to witness.

There are several words for what, exactly, will be transpiring here. “Spreading the gospel,” “sharing the faith,” and “evangelizing” are all common terms for the act of attempting to convert non-believers, but “witnessing” seems to be the most all-purpose. (I should say, also, that what we’re doing would strike many Christians as odd. Proselytizing to strangers, which one Christian I know calls “cold-turkey evangelism,” is a dying art, and many evangelicals prefer less confrontational methods of proselytizing. But on this trip, it’s all strangers, all confrontation, all day.)

Fascinating stuff! Well worth the 10 to 15 minutes it could take you to read the whole thing.

When I finished the article, I immediately sent it to my friend Greg Stier from Dare2Share, calling him a few minutes later. Greg is passionate about evangelism and I respect his opinion on the subject (many of you have heard our recent podcast together where we talked about evangelism vs. social justice). After a short conversation about the article I told Greg, “You have to write an article responding to this article, because this article demands answers.”

A few days later I had an 8-page response from Greg in my inbox.

I’ll post Greg’s response next week. But I wanted to give you a head start with the Salon article linked above… I encourage you to read it.

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The Day the Earth Stood Still

Posted on: 04/7/09 10:40 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Tuesday is the day new releases always hit the video store. The question I always have is… is there anything new actually worth watching?

This week I think there is.

Maybe I’m biased just because I really like this director- I admit that. But I really enjoyed the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still. The film stars Keanu Reeves (not my favorite actor), Jennifer Connelly (very good) and Jaden Smith (Will’s son… great young actor). This PG-13 film was totally clean. The rating was for “sci-fi violence.” As I said in my official movie review of this film, conservatives would probably have more problems with Shrek 3 than this film.

This isn’t my favorite movie, but it was really entertaining. And the aspect I enjoyed the most was something that this director excels at… he makes films that are entertaining, but also stimulate you to think. This film is a great discussion piece about “redemption.”

I talk a little about the film and the director in my movie review, linking my interviews with him:

Is it possible to entertain audiences and stimulate them to think about important issues without sacrificing the film’s enjoyability or coming across as preachy? I guess 2008 is the year to do it. Wall-E did it, and so did The Day the Earth Stood Still, Scott Derrickson’s remake of the 1951 classic.

I really like the director of this film. I interviewed him when his The Exorcism of Emily Rose came out two years ago. Scott is an interesting guy. He’s a Biola grad (a Christian school in Southern California) with films like Hellraiser on his director’s resume. So when he tackled “Emily Rose,” I was excited to talk with him about the horror medium. After all, a bunch of Christians would consider horror films pure evil. Right? Scott and I had an interesting dialogue about that very subject.

Note: The link above is to my first interview with Scott. I actually got a chance to interview him a second time and released it as a special podcast. If you haven’t listened to that quick 15 minute podcast where I interview Scott… I encourage you to. We talk about everything from working with Jaden Smith, to the development of his next project, Paradise Lost. (How cool is that!)

Pop some popcorn and rent this one this week.

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A Peek Into the Teenage Mind… Twilight Comments

Posted on: 04/3/09 11:59 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week I blogged about Twilight as the movie was released on DVD. In the last week, almost 30,000 people have clicked through this blog, mostly moms and young girls (My blog and website are being picked up by Google searches big time right now, and millions of young girls are doing “Twilight” searches… hence the heavy traffic).

The comments that have been posted on this blog are such an insight into the mind of a young teenage girl. My blog, addressed to parents and youth workers, asks the question, “Should I let my kids see Twilight?” I then link our article on the subject where I encourage parents and youth workers to talk about the movie with those who have watched it… but I also share my concerns, primarily the sensuality (i.e. the fact that a young girl is in her underwear and a t-shirt kissing a guy on her bed. Our article goes into detail).

Here’s where this gets amusing.

Realize… this film is very clean by today’s standards. There’s no sex or nudity at all– they only kiss. There is some violence, but as I said… VERY TAME by today’s standards. So most people in this world consider this film “clean.” And that’s probably why so many people are wondering why I could even ask the question, “Should I let my kids see Twilight?”

Kids just don’t see this as “a big deal.”

I love the comments I’ve been receiving. Here’s a few:

i read the books and saw the movie several times. originally i thought i wasn’t going to read it but i did and i LOVED it! i am 14 and i dont see anything wrong with it. the movie has only two kisses in it and the books arent graphic in kissing or anything. id say its for 8 and up. theres only one of the books i might stop my kid from reading, breaking dawn(the 4th book) because she becomes pregnant(so obviously she had sex). other than that i would say see the movie and get the book.
Left by Kate on Mar 31, 2009 5:46 PM

Left by annonymous on Mar 31, 2009 6:42 PM

I have read all the books and am now on the last book for the third time!
I think kids should be alould to watch it cause it only has like two kisses in it!
Left by ! on Apr 01, 2009 10:13 AM

twilight is freakin AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! im 12 and ive read the entire series 3 times already. i read the last book(breaking dawn) after fighting with my mom and sis for a while, and i didnt find anything wrong with it. the movie, well theres nothing wrong with it. sure, theres 2 kisses ( i have seen the movie like 10 times already) but really, isnt there more than that in like every movie? i say you let ur kids watch and read it.
Left by anonymous on Apr 01, 2009 7:33 PM

I don’t think there is anything wrong with kids watching the movie Twilight, or reading the book for that matter. There is no profanity, no sex, no drugs, no alcohol. There really is only one violent scene in the movie, and it’s really not even that bad. It’s a love story, but not a mushy-gushy make-out-all-the-time movie. In fact, they only kiss twice in the whole movie. The book is a little more mushy but back to the point – youth are going crazy over this book and I think it’s a great fictional story! Go Twilight!
Left by jessica on Apr 01, 2009 10:17 PM

seriously, its awesome there is only one little kiss, big deal
Left by cindy on Apr 02, 2009 2:54 PM

OMG I just turned 12 today and I read all of the Twilight books and saw the movie when I was 11. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Edward and Bella are madly in love. Who cares if they kiss 2 times??? Yeah, Breaking Dawn (Book 4)has sex in it, but like jessica said, they are already married and their is no description. I luv Twilight. THey are one of the best books I ever read in my life!!!!! I wish I could find someone like Edward!!!
Left by Zhanee’ on Apr 02, 2009 3:36 PM

You can read all the comments here.

I think the comments speak for themselves. “A kiss. What’s the big deal.”

And that’s exactly what I was talking about in my original article about the film. The subtle messages of Twilight are just that: “This is no big deal.” “Wouldn’t it be cool if a guy cared about you this much, loved you this much, and would come and kiss you in your bedroom like this, controlling his desires because of his great love!”

I think I have to agree with the mom whose response I posted in this blog. Sorry kids… he doesn’t exist.

One of the most common questions kids ask me when I speak on sex is, “How come it’s so difficult to stop when I’m making out?”

My answer is always, “Because God designed it to where you aren’t supposed to stop. He gave us sex to enjoy… and it’s a process that starts with kissing and grows and progresses like a wildfire from there.” (my seminar on the topic)

It’s actually been “affirming” reading the comments to this blog all week. I think the comments seem to confirm our original suspicions and concerns even more.