New Ideas

Posted on: 06/30/09 9:10 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“I use your site all the time!”

That’s what I always hear from youth workers when I see them face to face. But it’s interesting, so many of these youth workers only seem to know about a few of our free resources. They might use our games or our Movie Clip Discussions… but they never knew we had a podcast. Or they listen to the podcast and read the Youth Culture Window articles, but they never even know about all our free curriculum and all our various forms of discussion jumpstarters.

I’m surprised how many youth workers don’t even know what the front page of our web site offers each week.

For example: look at the front page of our web site this week:  It highlights six brand new resources of all shapes and sizes.

1. A brand new Youth Culture Window article about kids going “high tech” with cheating.

2. Our OUTREACH RESOURCE OF THE WEEK (updated weekly of course, hence the name) has a brand new lesson/discussion from David using an heart pounding clip from the good ol’ film Vertical Limit. David, my director of content development, has been really revamping our MOVIE CLIP DISCUSSIONS page lately. I don’t know if you’ve taken a peek. But EVERY movie on this page now includes small group questions, scripture, transition statements, wrap ups… everything you need. You just rent the film and we do the rest.

3. Our SPIRITUAL GROWTH RESOURCE OF THE WEEK (yes… updated weekly) has another brand new lesson/discussion using a classic clip from Bruce Almighty to provoke discussion about faith during tough times.

4. Our WHAT’S NEW? section has a new game that is perfect for “anywhere.”

5. Our THE SOURCE PODCAST page (with a link right there on the front page), our podcast for youth workers, has a brand new episode (launched just last week) with David and I answering your questions from our ASK THE SOURCE page.

6. Our A LI’L BIT PODCAST page (also linked right there from our front page), our 10-Minute Bible study for kids, has a brand new episode (launched just last week) as well!

Whew. I’m tired just thinking about all this!

Enjoy the resources. And when in doubt of where to look for what you need… always just start at the front page of

Another Transformers Disappointment

Posted on: 06/27/09 9:14 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This last week our movie guy Todd reviewed the new Transformers film. Like most critics, he thought the film stunk. But I thought you’d be curious of some of the reasoning behind Todd’s assessment.

Let me back way up. A year and a half ago Todd and I did our first annual Special Movie Review Podcast, a special episode where the two of us talked about movies from the perspective of two youth workers. We reviewed some films, talked about the best “clean” films that you could actually show at youth group, etc. It was a fun podcast.

One of the memorable moments of the podcasts was when we disagreed about the first Transformers film. He loved it, and I didn’t have much good to say about it. My main concern was the subtle messages that degraded women. You can check out that podcast if you want to hear my rant.

Regardless, I was a little skeptical as I saw Transformers II approaching, its previews full of Megan Fox eye-candy.

Apparently my suspicions weren’t far from the truth.

Here’s a few comments from Todd’s review:

Megan Fox seems to only have one agenda: more sexuality. I mean, when the first time we see her and she is bent over a motorcycle with a short pair of Daisy Dukes, what are we suppose to think? And I had to laugh at the countless slow-motion-Baywatch style running scenes she had. To make it worse, we have a new Transformer that can change into a human…and of course she has to be another bombshell. She “seduces” Sam but when Mikaela finds them together in his dorm, he tries to get away…so the Transformer whips her 100ft metal tongue around his neck…

His entire review here.

Posted in Movies, Sexuality |  | Leave A Comment

Youth Ministry in Iraq

Posted on: 06/25/09 1:14 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Yesterday I received a pretty encouraging email from a fellow “youth worker” ministering in a distant land. He’s a chaplain in Iraq!

Over the last decade we’ve seen used by youth workers all over the the English speaking world. I get emails from across the pond, down under, Africa and Asia. It’s amazing to see how many people use our free resources and training. But yesterday’s email was particularly encouraging coming from our troops in the desert.

Below is the email I received from Captain Dave Christensen who just listened to our free podcast for youth workers (basically, a free “radio show” for youth workers- this particular episode answering a bunch of questions from the field). Dave liked one of the suggestions we gave to youth workers, a suggestion to “debrief” as leaders after each ministry gathering, to evaluate and improve.

I’ll let his words tell the rest of the story:


I’m an Army Chaplain, currently deployed to Iraq and I wanted to comment on your answer to Millie in “Help Me! Episode 26.”  I spent about 10 years in youth ministry before becoming a chaplain.  I’ve actually found being a chaplain much more similar to youth ministry than anything else due to the majority of my flock being 18-24 years old.  Anyway, I thought you’d find it amusing that the regular debriefing thing you suggested is a very “Army” idea.  We do this with everything we do.  Of course, we have a fancy name and acronym for it.  We call it an After Action Review (AAR).  Every time a squad goes on mission “outside the wire”, we have an AAR when we make it back.  I have one with my Chaplain Assistant after a service or Soldier visitation.  I do one on my own after every counseling session.  I write up formal AARs after more highly visible events like Memorial Ceremonies.  My point is that this practice is one of the things that make our military the best in the world.  We constantly evaluate what we do and try to improve.  Everyone has a say too, from the most junior private to the unit commander.  I really believe, this practice, combined with prayer would benefit almost any ministry in any setting.  Thanks for everything you do at the source.  I think I’ve been using the web site for about 10 years now and I plan on continuing to the use all the wonderful resources here.


CH (CPT) Dave Christensen


Thanks Dave! I know those of us in the U.S. appreciate your service to our country! And all of us appreciate your work for the Kingdom. Keep up the good work!

Using Cell Phones to Cheat

Posted on: 06/24/09 2:49 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I wouldn’t be telling you anything new if I told you that teenagers are practically dependant on their cell phones. And I’m sure you wouldn’t be surprised to find out that the majority of teenagers cheat on school exams. But what you might find interesting is how many students are using their cell phones to cheat.

According to a brand new poll conducted by non-profit organization Common Sense Media

– more than a third of teens with cell phones (35 percent) admit to cheating at least once with them
– two-thirds of all teens (65 percent) say others in their school cheat with them

Of the teens who admit to cheating with their cell phone…
– 26 percent say they store information on their phone to look at during a test
– 25 percent text friends about answers during a test
– 17 percent take pictures of the test to send to friends
– 20 percent search the internet for answers during tests using their phones

– nearly half (48 percent) of teens with cell phones call or text their friends to warn them about pop quizzes
– just over half of students polled (52 percent) admitted to some form of cheating involving the internet
– Twenty-one percent of students say they’ve downloaded a paper or report from the internet to turn in
– 50 percent have seen or heard about others doing this
– 38 percent have copied text from web sites and turned it in as their own work
– 60 percent have seen or heard this
– 32 percent have searched for teachers’ manuals or publishers’ solutions to problems in textbooks they are currently using
– 47 percent have seen or heard this

So it’s pretty evident that cheating is going on (we’ve written entire Youth Culture Window articles on this subject). What’s even more concerning from this study is that only about half of these kids think that “cell phone use during a test” is a serious cheating offense.

It’s almost as if these students don’t know what integrity is. Or is it perhaps that they simply aren’t seeing good character modeled to them? (“Trust me honey, the ‘short sale’ on our home is the wise thing to do.”)


(ht to David)

Quick Thumbs

Posted on: 06/22/09 12:44 PM | by Jonathan McKee

How fast can you text?

Can you text blindfolded?

Do you know all those crazy texting acronyms? (gtg, brb.)

You might not value these skilss, but a 15-year-old Iowa girl just won the national title, including the $50,000 grand prize… for texting!

CNN reports:

A 15-year-old girl with a 500-texts-a-day texting habit thumbed her way to the $50,000 grand prize at the L.G. National Texting Championship in New York on Tuesday.

 Over 250,000 participants of all ages entered the competition, whose championship rounds were held in New York on Monday and Tuesday and won by Kate Moore of Des Moines, Iowa.

Some challenges were straightforward tests of speed and accuracy, but others required a little extra texting savvy. In one round, texters had to send texts while blindfolded. Another round quizzed contestants’ knowledge of texting acronyms…

Click here for the entire article.

(ht to David)

The Hugging Threat

Posted on: 06/19/09 2:56 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Sometimes an article comes along that doesn’t even deserve a comment. Such is this one.

Oh… forget it. I can’t hold back. I’ll change it up by giving you my comments before you even read this article.



The “threat” of hugging? Seriously? a “threat?”

You’ve gotta be kidding. Someone PLEASE tell me this is a cynical piece. Pick your battles people. This is the least of our concerns.

Okay… I’m done. Here’s a piece of the article:

In their endless campaign and their inherited duty to confound their elders, this latest generation of teenagers has adopted a new weapon:


As detailed by a recent front-page story in The New York Times, teenage hugging has become an epidemic stretching from one coast to the other. Girls are hugging girls. Boys are hugging boys. Boys are hugging girls and vice-versa, which is not really a new development, except that now the inter-gender embraces do not necessarily have ulterior motives.

“For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?” according to the story’s headline.

“We’re not afraid, we just get in and hug,” a male high school junior is quoted as saying. “The guy friends, we don’t care. You just get right in there and jump in.”

“We like to get cozy,” an eighth-grade girl in San Francisco explains. “The high-five is, like, boring,”

One might think that the practice of kids exchanging hugs, not drugs — or slugs — would be welcomed without reservation and even with open arms by parents and educators. One might be wrong.

• A parenting columnist for the Associated Press admits that she is baffled.

“It’s a wordless custom, from what I’ve observed,” she writes in her book, “13 is the new 18.” “And there doesn’t seem to be any other overt way in which they acknowledge each other. No hi, no smile, no wave, no high-five — just the hug.”

• Experts have been consulted to delve into what this threat of teenage hugging is all about.

Click here for the entire article.

(ht to Rick from PA)

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Decline in Family Time

Posted on: 06/17/09 12:21 PM | by Jonathan McKee

My dad and I are about to drive North this afternoon, preparing for a workshop we teach tomorrow. As we were updating some of our research, my dad sent me the following article about the rapid decrease in family time (one of our “Seismic Shifts” we teach from our book is the shift from “community to individualism”).

Whether it’s around the dinner table or just in front of the TV, U.S. families say they are spending less time together.

The decline in family time coincides with a rise in Internet use and the popularity of social networks, though a new study stopped just short of assigning blame.

The Annenberg Center for the Digital Future at the University of Southern California is reporting this week that 28 percent of Americans it interviewed last year said they have been spending less time with members of their households. That’s nearly triple the 11 percent who said that in 2006.

These people did not report spending less time with their friends, however.

Michael Gilbert, a senior fellow at the center, said people report spending less time with family members just as social networks like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace are booming, along with the importance people place on them.

Click here for the entire article.

Interesting article. Although we’ve found more and more research that people are actually spending less “face to face” time with friends too. They’re trying to replace that void with cyber relationships… and coming up empty.

The above article goes on to talk of the rising concern about how much time kids spend online. I’ll be blogging about this a lot this year. I spend quite a bit of time talking about these shifts in my book coming out this December, CONNECT.

My Comrades

Posted on: 06/15/09 4:40 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last night I spoke at a youth service for a Sacramento area Russian church known as the House of Bread Church. It was a really fun experience on several levels.

First… it was intriguing to note some of the cultural differences from these English speaking Russian Americans. Not only was this group professional and well dressed (yes… even the teenagers), they were also much more polite and attentive than the typical U.S. youth group. More on that in a minute.

A little background. Most of the people in this group were born in Russia, the Ukraine, Estonia, etc. and moved to the U.S. with their parents when they were toddlers or young kids. Most of their parents moved here to escape religious persecution. Many of these students have stories of their parents or grandparents spending time in jail because of their faith. 22-year-old Eddie started off the story in prayer, sharing a story of his grandfather in Russia years ago refusing to renounce the name of Jesus. All he needed to do was deny Christ and he would be set free- he refused.

A powerful legacy that many of these students were left with.

Because of this legacy and tradition, most of these students have grown up in very strict Christian homes, attending churches where the girls wear dresses and the boys wear ties. The services are in Russian, because, as my new friend Anna explained, “Anything too American was seen as bad.”

So this particular church is a little radical, by Russian standards, because they do an English speaking service. Anna and her team of leaders respect the old traditions, but at the same time have noticed an open door to reach English speaking Russian Americans with an English worship service.

The age group of these ‘students’ varies from 16 to young twenties. Apparently many of these Russian groups organize their age groups a little different than the traditional American “jr. high” and “high school” group. These Russian groups reach kids, then tweens and teens up to about 15 years old, then 16 to young twenties (which, ironically is dictionary definition Gen Y). The group I spoke to last night was this group of 16 to young twenties.

 A few random observations:

  • This group was in much better physical shape than typical “born in the USA” Americans. I am 5 foot 9 and 185 pounds (about 15 pounds overweight- basically, I can hide my gut in a big shirt, but not in a swimsuit)… and I was by far the fattest dude in the room!   🙂

  • This group was well dressed. Anna, Jimmy, Eddie and the leadership team described this group as casual, remarking how radical this was for a Slavic church. But when I got there, the most casual guy there was jeans, a nice shirt and dress shoes. Everyone had on dress shoes. No flip flops in this CA church.
  • Most of these Russian Americans didn’t have an accent at all. Many of them were infants when they came here. If it weren’t for the dress shoes… you wouldn’t even know where they were born.  J
  • They were more focused on true worship. This might be just this particular group, a mixed group of Baptists, Pentecostals, etc. (another thing you don’t see often in the Russian churches apparently… a mix of denominations). But these young men and women were into the worship and focused on learning. Aside from some of the Korean churches I’ve spoken at, this group was probably the most attentive.
  • The age group was fascinating. I spoke at their youth service. But their main church primarily reaches Russian Americans ages 20 through 40. Yes, you read that correctly: 20-40. The group least likely to be found in most American churches. But in this Russian community… this group is on fire!

I had a great time ministering with this group. They heard me train at the Youth Specialty Conventions two years ago and have been using our web site’s free resources ever since. I’m glad that I was finally able to go see them in action and speak in their service. I hope to see more of them in the future.

Posted in Church, Youth Culture |  | Leave A Comment

92% More 12-34-year-olds Watched the MTV Movie Awards

Posted on: 06/10/09 9:54 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week I posted my recap of this year’s raunchy MTV Movie Awards… a show that always seems to slip under the radar of most parents.

Apparently this is true. Because 92% more people in the 12-34 demographic watched the show this year. Online, the show generated a 205% increase from last year. By Midday Monday, the show had already logged 3.5 million streams. Add that to the 5.3 million viewers the night before.

That’s a lot of kids getting a glimpse of the “junk” MTV was showing (Click here for my description of what most parents had no idea that their kids were watching)

Last week I chatted about the show with a few parents I knew from church. Several of them admitted that their kids watched it… the parents had no idea what kind of content their kids were watching (along with literally millions of other kids across the country).

A lot of the show’s hype had to do with the movie Twilight and its fanatical band of followers. MTV showed an exclusive preview for it’s new movie “New Moon,” and that, combined with the many other “moons” we saw that night created quite a buzz … hence the high number of downloads the next few days.

You can see all the numbers here and here.

If God Texted the 10 Commandments

Posted on: 06/6/09 7:52 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This is hilarious…


1. no1 b4 me. srsly.

2. dnt wrshp pix/idols

3. no omg’s

4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)

5. pos ok – ur m&d r cool

6. dnt kill ppl

7. :-X only w/ m8

8. dnt steal

9. dnt lie re: bf

10. dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl.

ttyl, JHWH.

ps. wwjd?

(ht to McSweeney’s via Fast Company, list by Jaimie Quatro)

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