Set Your Recorders…

Posted on: 05/29/09 1:54 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I don’t tell you to set your DVR’s (and VCR’s) very often. But this Sunday night is one of those times I think it’s worth it.

Three times a year a show comes on TV that gives you a glimpse of the role models (or lack thereof) that your kids are watching and emulating. One of those shows is this Sunday’s MTV Movie Awards. (the other two shows are the MTV VMAs, and the Teen Choice Awards)

David wrote this week’s Youth Culture Window to give us a glimpse of what to expect this year from this “typically- racy” show. Here’s a glimpse at David’s… er… glimpse:    

The Golden Popcorn Crowd
A Glimpse of Our Kid’s Role Models from the 2009 MTV MOVIE AWARDS

An article from David R. Smith

If only we could choose our kids’ role models…

This Sunday night, we’ll get a pretty accurate glimpse of our teens’ role models. Andy Samberg. Lil Wayne. Eminem. Put the kids to bed…it’s time for the annual MTV Movie Awards.

The 2009 MTV Movie Awards
Broadcasting live from Los Angeles on May 31st at 9:00pm (EST), the MTV Movie Awards will bring in millions of young viewers from all across the country (and world). Teenagers will not only tune in to see the on-stage antics of A-List celebrities and the live performances of today’s biggest stars, but also to see who wins the Golden Popcorn…the “award” given to winners for categories such as “Best Kiss,” “Best Villain,” and “Best Movie,” to name a few.

With all the movie stars and music icons that will hit the stage this year, along with the fact that viewers actually get to select the winners, teenagers will have tons of reasons to watch this year. And that means you probably have a good reason to watch, as well.

Big Names…As Usual
MTV is bringing out the big guns this year. Andy Samberg, one of Gen Y’s favorite personas from Saturday Night Live, will be hosting the event. Samberg is the guy who brought us those wonderful toe-tappin’ tunes like “D–k in a Box” and “J–z in My Pants,” (which was one of the top music videos on iTunes when it was released), and the most recent digital short featuring Justin Timberlake which has the chorus, “We should f*** each other’s mother.”

But Samberg won’t be the only star on stage. He’ll be surrounded by other big names who’ll function as presenters throughout the evening. Lil Wayne (winner of Best Hip Hop video from 2008 VMA’s), Will Ferrell (Talladega Nights), Denzel Washington, Cameron Diaz, Ryan Reynolds, Vanessa Hudgens, Jonah Hill, Sandra Bullock, Dwayne Johnson (a.k.a. The Rock), and Channing Tatum (Star Trek) are just a few of the celebs that will grab the mic to pass out the popcorn…

Good ol’ Fashioned Customer Service

Posted on: 05/28/09 12:13 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Today I had an experience that was rare… good ol’ fashioned customer service.

It started with a burnt out brake light. My son just turned 16 (aye aye aye!!!), and he takes his drivers’ license test tomorrow. (did I mention… aye aye aye!!!) The first thing the DMV guy is gonna do is check the car to make sure it’s in proper working condition, including all signals, brake lights, etc. Our right brake is out… so I needed to fix it before my son’s test tomorrow.

Lori (my sweet bride) has been kindly reminding me all week to fix that. Today (24 hours before the test) I decided to try to be a man, open the trunk and figure out how to replace this simple tail light.

Aye aye aye!!!

What happened to simple old tail lights that can be removed with a screwdriver? I needed a Phd to take this thing apart! So I opted to take it to a trusted mechanic around the corner from my house. The place is called “Scotty’s” and they have taken care of my cars for years. Lately they haven’t seen much of me because we have newer Nissans… and those cars just don’t break down! But I rolled in there and asked if they could replace the light for me.

20 minutes later they were done and they told me, “you’re all set!” and handed me my keys.

I asked, “How much do I owe you.”


“Come on,” I argued. “Let me at least pay for the bulb.”

“Just bring it back in when you need something done.”

I wish businesses would learn from this model. Of COURSE I’m going to bring my car back there. That’s actually why I brought it to them in the first place. They’re not only honest and reliable… they know how to “hook a brotha up” every once in a while.

When we started offering my books for sale on our web page, a friend with a keen business mind gave me a piece of advice. He said, “if you every have someone complain that their book didn’t arrive or was damaged… don’t argue. Don’t worry about specifics. Just ship a new one immediately no questions ask.” He said, “You’ll make a lifetime customer.”

I’ve followed his advice. It happens only a couple times a year- so it costs us very little. If someone orders a book and, a few weeks later, emails me with a problem, we immediately send them a new package Priority Mail. I always just tell them, “If the other book ever shows up, just give it to someone who needs it. Sorry for the trouble.” This always makes them happy… and hopefully I’ve made a friend.

Customer Service 101.


It was nice to be on the receiving end of it today.

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An Ubundince of Mispelings

Posted on: 05/26/09 10:40 AM | by Jonathan McKee

How many of us really can spell without Microsoft WORD’s little red squiggly lines warning us to try again?

According to this Telegraph article from across the pond… not many of us!

For some of us, spelling and grammar might not seem like a big deal. But according to the above article, 94 percent of job hunters risked missing out on job opportunities through poor spelling, grammar or presentation on their resumes.

Just in case some of you are looking for a job (you may have caught our recent article about finding a job in youth ministry), you might want to pay attention. It’s amazing just how commonplace misspellings and other mistakes are in today’s resumes or “CVs.” (for those who aren’t familiar with the term CV, it’s basically a marketing tool that tells your life history, job history, achievements and skills- a resume!)

Here’s a few of my favorite CV blunders from the Telegraph article:

– My interests include cooking dogs and interesting people.

– As security guard my job is to pervert unauthorised people from coming onto the site

– I am a pubic relations officer


– I have excellent editing and poof-reading skills


– I am a prooficient typist


– I was responsible for fraudulent claims


– While working in this role, I had intercourse with a variety of people


(ht to my mom at California State University Sacramento for passing this article on to me)

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Colleges Using Facebook & Twitter to Recruit

Posted on: 05/21/09 8:25 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I always find it interesting to see where kids hang out, “virtually” as well as physically. I also find it interesting to see where companies and institutions perceive kids to be- as well as the methods they use to connect with or attract students.

My mom is a prof at California State University in Sacramento. She shot me over an email that she received in her department about recruiting students:

“Facebook & Twitter Recruitment Tools to Engage Prospective Students”

Facebook, Twitter & blogs are the latest, inexpensive necessities to recruit students to your campus. Discover how to best use these ‘tools’ to connect with potential students and guide them through the college application process.
Please join us for a 60-minute webinar to hear our subject expert reveal secrets

** How to use Facebook, Twitter & blogs to recruit potential students
** 5 vital Facebook communication tools to boost your school image
** Ways to remind students of vital acceptance dates: Free apps you need
** Critical tips to monitor buzz about your institution online

Not that the day of the “college fair” is gone, but Universities are obviously realizing that some of their recruiting efforts need to be virtual.


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Star Trek

Posted on: 05/19/09 10:36 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Yesterday I took one of my daughters on a date… we saw the new Star Trek.

Wow! What a great film.

At first, I was a little hesitant to bring any of my kids to it because of the preview. The preview shows a girl undressing, some pretty passionate kissing… it hinted that the film had some pretty sensual moments. I asked others who had seen the film and the consensus was, “What you saw in the preview is about all there was in the entire film.”

They were right. In one scene Kirk is making out with a girl (who happens to be all green) who is wearing a bikini type outfit, apparently her alien underwear. While making out, her room-mate comes home. Kirk hides under the bed and the room-mate starts to strip down to underwear (the exact scene you see in the preview). That was the end of it.

I’ll be honest. I’ve seen much worse on TV.

I watched the film with my 11-year-old and had no regrets. We looked at each other during the underwear scene and sighed (we have had the talk before about how Hollywood somehow finds the need to want to include that stuff to sell tickets. No words were necessary. My daughter knew). The film was really fun overall.

I’m not a Trekkie by any means. I watched the TV show when I was a kid (my favorite episode was the one where Kirk got stranded on the planet with the lizard creature. See! A Trekkie would probably know that creature’s name!), and I watched all the films when they came out. The first film stunk (soooooo boring), Wrath of Khan was cool, then they all sort of blended together (although I kind of remember liking the one with the whales- which one was that? Four?). I never tried the new series, although my brother was a big fan of the Next Generation. I heard it was really good- maybe I’ll have to check it out.

This movie made me curious to go back and see some of the original TV show. It was so fun to see the young versions of each character: Bones, Sulu, Chekov, Scotty, etc.

And let me just say, JJ Abrams (the director) is just brilliant. The film started with such realistic action and strong performances. Watching this now, it would be truly difficult even for Star Wars fans to go back and watch Mark Hamill say lines like, “But I was going to the Tashi station to pick up some power converters!”

Plus.. the cast was amazing: Zachary Quinto (Cyler from Heroes), Leonard Nimoy, Eric Bana (under a bunch of makeup), Simon Pegg (Hot Fuzz and Shawn of the Dead), Tyler Perry… and more. Wow.

Star Trek rocked.

Todd’s official revue of the film here.

Posted in Movies |  | Leave A Comment

Katy Perry Does It Again

Posted on: 05/15/09 6:52 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week Katy Perry made a guest appearance on American Idol, elevating yet another one of her songs to the top of the charts, Waking Up in Vegas. Not a bad marketing move for Perry. Most people that appear on Idol are on the charts days to follow. No exception here, as of today the song is #5 most downloaded song on iTunes and the #10 most downloaded video. (Monday morning update- now #2 downloaded song on iTunes)

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems that Idol‘s content this year has been a little less “family friendly.” Not the contestants… but the guest stars. Just a few weeks ago Jamie Foxx sang the song, Blame It (you decide what you think of the lyrics). This week, Katy did her thing. Sure… these songs meet the standards of what is “acceptable” for T.V… but parents should probably make the decision of what is really acceptable for their kids’ ears.

Katy’s song started with these lyrics

You gotta help me out
It’s all a blur last night
We need a taxi ’cause you’re
Hung over and I’m broke

I lost my fake ID
But you lost the motel key
Spare me your freaking
Dirty looks now don’t blame me

You wanna cash out
And get the hell outta town
Don’t be a baby
Remember what you told me

Shut up and put your money where your mouth is
That’s what you get for waking up in Vegas…

Nice. Huh?

Katy’s background is interesting, a flop as a Christian singer who adjusted her content to go mainstream. I blogged about her before when her I Kissed a Girl song first came out (and received heated responses from internet readers), she’s definitely one to keep your eyes on. Her journey as a young artist is reminding me of Madonna’s legacy– creative, controversial, and sexual… just what young people want to hear.

It would be nice to think that our kids are not hearing this music outside of our houses… but, think again. My son came home from school yesterday and announced, “Guess what song they (the school) were playing at lunch today. If You Seek Amy.” (If you’re not familiar with that song… you’ll want to read this article)  The song wasn’t edited. The school plays songs as long as they aren’t “explicit.” (and that song only ‘spells’ the F word… it doesn’t say it. Nice!) This isn’t my first experience with this kind of music slipping under the radar at my kids’ schools.

So how should we respond?

Unfortunately, a letter to your congressman will probably do very little. But David offers parents and youth workers some advice at the bottom of our past Youth Culture Window article on the subject– check it out for more about the lyrics our kids hear, how the lyrics affect them, and how we should respond.

Keep it Real

Posted on: 05/13/09 12:21 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m speaking at a conference in the Maritimes (Canada) this summer, and I just was chatting with the conference coordinator about the theme. He wanted me to send him my theme and the direction I would go.

I started brainstorming about the theme REAL. Just one word. I’ve used that theme before and really liked it. So I whipped up some thoughts on the subject. Curious of all of your thoughts.

Theme: REAL
REAL is a word we hear almost every day. No one wants a fake. No one likes a phony. In today’s language we even have developed phrases that show our desire for authenticity: “Let me keep it REAL.”
But does the world really want REAL? Is the desire for authenticity… authentic? Let’s be honest. Most of the people we run into in this world are more concerned with outward appearance than who they really are inside. Often, what we see from people on the outside is not the REAL thing. Honesty is rare. Complete authenticity is almost extinct. In the online world it’s difficult to find people who really are who they say they are. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really REAL anymore.
“Keeping it REAL” seems to be just a catchy phrase… a bunch of words without meaning. In actuality, the world has exchanged truth for a lie. The world seeks “temporary” things, while ignoring our eternal condition. In the Bible, in the beginning of the book of Romans, Paul describes people as “suppressing the truth with their wickedness.” Think about that. He describes people as pushing away the truth, exchanging it for a lie. How REAL is that?
What does it mean to be truly REAL in superficial world?
This week we will be talking about our REAL condition and the REAL pressures we feel every day. God provides something so REAL that we can’t ignore it… and it’s not found in religion or good deeds… it’s found in a relationship with Him. An authentic relationship with our creator changes us in a REAL way, a change that occurs from the inside out.
It doesn’t get any more REAL than that.

No Dancing

Posted on: 05/12/09 1:10 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Sigh. No matter how this one turns out… it won’t be pretty. Christians are going to be dragged through the mud once again. It’s the age ol’ story:

Kid goes to strict Christian school that doesn’t allow dancing.

Kid signs contract agreeing he won’t dance.

Kid gets asked to prom at other school.

Kid asks principal if he can go.

Principal basically tells him, “If you don’t want to graduate.”

Kid goes to prom anyway (years of TV have taught him well).

School says, “Your suspended, you can’t take finals, and you can’t graduate.”

Kid shows up on CBS News whining about school, announcing he is going to sue the school.

There it is. Here’s the video:

Who’s wrong here? (how’s that for a discussion starter with your kids?)

The Christian school is definitely going to take a beating by the press with this one (the comments below the CBS video are hilarious. Wow. They remind me of the comments from 12-year-olds to my recent blog about ‘Twilight’)

Stupid rules aside… it’s sad…  people’s word (even contracts) just doesn’t mean much to anyone any more.

That’s right. Even though I think this school might have some rules that are way more strict than I would have… the kid agreed to a contract. Don’t sign up for something if you don’t plan on sticking with it.

(ht to David R. Smith for the link)

Angels and Demons

Posted on: 05/11/09 10:07 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This Friday Angels and Demons hits the theatres, another film based on Dan Brown’s bestselling novel of the same title. I saw a screening of the film last week… not much to talk about.

A few years ago Brown created a storm of controversy with The Da Vinci Code (some of you might remember my interview with Josh McDowell on the subject). Angels and Demons won’t bring more than a drizzle.

Angels and Demons features Tom Hanks once again as the Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon (the same guy we saw in The Da Vinci Code. In this movie, the Vatican asks for Langdon’s help after four cardinals are kidnapped by a secret brotherhood called the Illuminati, threatening to kill one an hour, sending Langdon on a wild goose… er… cardinal chase around Rome.

The film actually wasn’t as boring as The Da Vinci Code. The action was decent and the performances were top notch (Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard… how could you go wrong?). Unfortunately, the story was juvenile and predictable. It was a wanna-be National Treasure, with a religious twist.

I brought my friend Eric to the screening with me and he probably got tired of me leaning over and telling him what would happen in the next scene. Yeah… the film was that predictable. Its big surprises were not surprises at all.

This film won’t be as offensive to Christians, or more specifically, the Catholic church as its predecessor. Yes, it reeked of conspiracy theory, but the writer seemed to seek out some sort of “political correctness” this time around with a message that “faith” and “science” can coincide. Even though the film began with anti-religious tones, the church seemed to redeem itself near the end. One of the cardinals concluded, “Religion is flawed only because man is flawed.” Nothing wrong with that statement.

The Vatican doesn’t seem to find this film a threat. A Vatican editorial referred to it as commercial and inaccurate, but “harmless.” I chuckled at this statement from that same AP article:

The movie was “a gigantic and smart commercial operation” filled with “stereotyped characters.” The paper suggested moviegoers could make a game out of finding the many historical inaccuracies in the plot.

That sounds about right.

Don’t rush to the theatre for this one, but come DVD release, It’s probably worth a rent if nothing else is available.

Posted in Church, Movies |  | Leave A Comment

Ready-Made Youth Talks

Posted on: 05/6/09 11:59 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week YS/Zondervan did another reprint of my 10-Minute-Talks book and I just received another 1,000 of them here at my office. On Tuesday I sent out an offer to all our EZINE subscribers with a special low price and free shipping… I wanted to extend that to you.

10-Minute-Talks is a book I wrote to put in the hands of youth workers that are looking for some “ready-made” talks/sermons. The book has 24 of these talks and includes a CD with transcripts of all the talks as well as a corresponding small group curriculum.

I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback about the book. Just a couple weeks ago I was teaching a workshop and someone pulled me aside to let me know how much they appreciated this resource. Half of the talks are geared toward outreach, and the other half are geared toward Christian students who need to grow in their faith. All the talks are story based: one story, one scripture, one point. Simple to memorize, easy to deliver. The small group curriculum on the CD makes it even better, because now you can use it for your entire evening’s curriculum.

Click here if you want to order it now at 25% off, also taking advantage of the FREE U.S. shipping.

Click here if you want to see one of the talks that we posted on my site last fall- something you can use this week.