Ministry In WI

Posted on: 07/31/09 1:09 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This week has been a blur. I’m at one of my favorite camps that I speak at, Camp Timberlee, just out of Milwaukee, WI. I’m speaking 12 times at the camp, then I fly home Saturday night and preach in both morning services at my home church. (Whew!)

The week at the camp has been great so far. Highlights:

  • My daughter Alyssa is with me and we’ve been having a great time being together
  • A bunch of kids gave their lives to Christ at the beginning of the week. I don’t know how many- about 30 to 40 hands went up. We sent them to pray one-on-one with their counselors. Very cool!
  • I’ve had some great face to face talks with kids this week, all these with my daughter at my side. It’s been fun having Alyssa see the ministry opportunities at a camp like this.
  • My favorite pizza! Yes, Alyssa and I had Giordanos Pizza when we landed in Chicago before driving up to the camp. Yes!!! I love it!

This morning was another productive morning. After speaking and talking with some kids, I connected with my buddy Chris Radloff and recorded a THE SOURCE PODCAST about developing our staff and volunteers with “desired outcomes.” Chris is a brilliant manager who creates an arena where ministry happens! It will be great for you to hear from him (we’ll launch that podcast in another month or so). If you’re curious- jump onto our THE SOURCE PODCAST page and scroll down to podcast #7 where I interviewed him before about developing volunteers. Great podcast.

I also recorded a couple more A LIL BIT podcasts this morning- that’s our podcast for kids. It’s fun recording that here, especially because I’ve seen so many kids at this camp become excited about the opportunity to listen to a Bible study podcast when they get home.

Gotta Run!

Praise God!

My Youth Pastor 20 Years After High School

Posted on: 07/27/09 10:14 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“I’ll never forget when he took me to lunch.”

“I remember looking in the bleachers and seeing him there at my basketball game.”

“His wife Sherrie had us all over for a slumber party.”

Funny… no one remembered any of his sermons or talks, but we all remembered how he loved us, made us feel accepted, and how much he invested in our lives relationally.

I’m talking about my youth pastor from 20 years ago. You see… this past weekend I had a 20 year high school reunion, but not with my school… with my church youth group.

Imagine that. Do you ever wonder what the kids in your church’s current youth group will look like in 20 years? What will they have to say about their youth pastor?

The whole idea of a “youth group reunion” began last fall when some of my old high school church friends started Facebooking each other, “Wouldn’t it be fun to get everyone together again, “etc. After 4 or 5 of us kept saying it, we decided to make it happen. We emailed as many people as we still knew and came up with a date. Then we started spreading the word.

Last Friday and Saturday night we got all of us together. Friday night was “family night” (we had infants, toddlers, tweens and teens) and Saturday night was just couples and individuals. What a great time!

Our youth pastor from back then, Paul, is now one of our church’s associate pastor. He and his wife Sherrie came to the party along with my dad and mom (my dad was the senior pastor when I was in high school). Among the “youth group kids- all grown up” were a doctor, a few state workers, a professor at Eastern College in PA, a nurse, a couple youth ministers, an associate pastor, a missionary in China, a manager of Toys R S, a hotel manager, a few stay-at-home moms and a handful of people in business for themselves. Almost every single one of them is plugged into a church right now, many of them involved in ministry.

On Saturday night we had an “open mike” asking people to share their favorite “Paul” story. We shared stories of him hanging out with us on backback trips, snow trips, his visits to our campus and sports events… amazing what people remembered. We spend over 30 minutes just lifting him up and thanking him for his investment in our lives.

It was amazing how after 20 years, the quality people remembered the most was Paul’s relational investment in our lives.


In the Mind of our “Good” Kids

Posted on: 07/23/09 2:27 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Do our “good” kids really need us to talk about sex, raunchy music, pornography, etc? Are we just putting thoughts in their heads that weren’t already there? Are we “making them grow up too fast?”

These are all accusations I’ve heard when it comes to talking with our “Good” kids about real issues in this very R-rated world. That’s why I gathered 5 of our “good kids” together yesterday and recorded a podcast asking them about these issues. I wanted to get a peek inside the mind of our “good kids,” and hear what pressures they are actually facing day to day. Then I asked them point blank: “Should the church talk about these issues?”

Great responses.

At the beginning of the podcast I made a disclaimer to our listeners. I told them that these kids were NOT at all a representation of the typical kids you’d find at your local campus. That wasn’t the intent of this podcast. I didn’t gather a random sampling of kids of different beliefs and attitudes. Instead, I hand-selected kids who have grown up in Christian homes where church is a priority. These kids are all “discipleship level” kids, many of them student leaders in their youth groups. I wanted our listeners to hear the perspective of kids who have been “protected” from many of the influences of this world. It was interesting to hear what pressures and temptations these “sheltered” kids faced (Three of the students are public school kids, one attends a Christian school and one is homeschooled).

The podcast was really fun. Some of the answers were a little churchy, but they answered with authenticity.

Here are the questions I asked:

– What does it mean to be a follower of Christ today?

– What are some of the biggest pressures you feel from the world that seems to battle against your faith in God and His truth?

– Parents and youth workers have been reading an abundance of articles and even seen 60 Minute news specials about a trend called “sexting.” This is, of course, sending sexually explicit text messages or even naked or sexually revealing pictures of oneself. Have you witnessed this, received any of these messages? Do you see this as a trend at your school, work or in your social groups? FOLLOW UP: Reports say that 39% of teenagers say they’ve sent suggestive text messages, 48% say they’ve received them. 20% say that they’ve sent naked or semi-naked pictures of themselves. 33% of teenage boys say they’ve seen these images. Do you think these numbers are accurate?  Do you think this affects Christian kids just the same?

– Music is a huge influence on teenagers today. Who are some of the biggest names in music that you see influence teenagers today? FOLLOW UP: Is there pressure to listen to not only sexually explicit music, but maybe sexually suggestive music? How do you deal with this pressure?

– Internet porn is abundant, so abundant in fact that they say that the average age that kids experience internet porn, even accidentally, is age 11. Have you found this to be a temptation, a nuisance, a pressure? How do you fight a battle like this?

– How has the church equipped you to deal with these kinds of pressures and influences?

– What do you feel like you still need? In other words, what OTHER ways can we teach and train you?

You’ll really enjoy their responses.

We should release the podcast within the next two weeks. Look for it on our THE SOURCE Podcast page soon.

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If You Could Live Anywhere?

Posted on: 07/20/09 2:13 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Oh man it’s good to be back home.

Sure, I travel a lot. But on average I only go away two weekends a month, which really only adds up to 6 or 7 days a month away from home. Contrast that with my last few weeks… I was gone from July 4th until late last night (July 19th).

Whew! It’s good to be home in Sacramento. I really like it here.

People always ask, “If you could live anywhere…”

Funny… when my wife and I were tooling around Maine, we really liked it, and even pondered the idea of, “What if we moved here some day?” (We always look around- wondering about the answer to the question, “If you could live anywhere, where would you live?”) We even loved New Brunswick CANADA and saw some cute houses near the small town of Quispamsis that were really nice. Near the ocean, peaceful… not bad. And New England was cute- from the small tourist trap of Freeport Maine to the more urban streets around Harvard in Boston (no, I didn’t kiss the statue’s foot!). Fun.

But bottom line… I love Sacramento.

My ten second pitch: 90 minutes from San Francisco, 90 minutes from Lake Tahoe, Far enough away from Los Angelos (6 hoursish, depending on your definition of LA), but close enough to visit. Nice and hot during the summer, but not humid! No natural disasters (no hurricanes, Tornados, etc. Earthquakes are a good 90 minutes away, fires 45 to 60 minutes away. Flooding happens, but not often, and not near my house).

So if you could live anywhere… where would you live?

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Did We Really Need More Borat?

Posted on: 07/18/09 7:37 AM | by Jonathan McKee

If you’ve seen any newspaper this week, you’ve probably seen a picture of a half naked man named Bruno. If you happened to pass a magazine rack, then you might have even seen the same man fully naked on the cover of GQ.

The man has many different faces, but his content is always similar… similar in that you wouldn’t want your kids to see it.

If you made the mistake of seeing the movie Borat, you know what I’m talking about. USA Today claims that Bruno trumps Borat in shock value. The redband trailer of this film will reveal that (although I don’t encourage you to watch that).

I’ve been in Canada speaking all week and I literally just read David’s article about the film’s release (funny, I’ve seen magazines and newspapers about the film all week, and only now did I finally get to read the “Youth Culture Window” article on my own web site! That shows you how connected I’ve been this week!) David’s article on this film is excellent, I encourage all parents and youth workers to read it.

Here’s just a taste:

Homosexuality. Vulgarity. Profanity. Some more homosexuality. Mockery of Christianity. Coarse jokes. Even more homosexuality. Several drug references. Sex toys. And you guessed it: more homosexuality. Will kids pay to see this at theaters?

If Borat’s success at the box office is any indicator, they will by the millions.


Maine, Canada, and That Dang Metric System

Posted on: 07/14/09 8:48 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’ve finally got a moment to breathe here in Canada. Although I’m not sure whether this moment is measured in miles… or kilometers! I’m so confused! 

Let me back up.

We flew into Boston on Sunday. Lori and I (yes, just me and the wife on this trip- very cool!) ate a deliciious taste of Legal Seafood in the United Terminal at Boston’s Logan airport. If you’ve never had Legal Seafood, it’s a great chain with a very tasty chowder.

An hour later we were exiting Mass. and into New Hampshire. Everyone pull out your U.S. maps. The N.H. shoreline is only like 14 miles. We were by the shore, so our NH experience was about 15 minutes, then onto Maine.

Maine: allow me to quote my wife. “This place is adorable!”

My wife loves Maine. Please, no one in Maine should offer me a pastoring job, because my wife would make me take it!  🙂 We stopped in Freeport, Maine… a cute little town with outlet malls and (again quoting my wife) “adorable little houses.”

I really did like it. We’re gonna try to stop there on the way back on Saturday. The town’s McDonalds was even this old colonial house, but with a little McDonald’s sign out front. Hilarious. Very cool little town.

Monday morning as we winded our way through Maine we saw some very pretty terrain. My favorite little street: Cow Patty Lane. I kid you not!

Heading NorthEast, we finally hit the Canadian border. The border crossing was simple, we showed our passports, answered a few questions, “no, we don’t have any drugs, plants, pets or children tied up in the trunk,” and were merrily on our way. This was my wife’s first time in Canada.

I stopped at the first Tim Horton’s (Canada’s version of Starbucks mixed with Dunkin Donuts) and we got some Canadian coins for the tolls approaching. Within an hour we entered St. John (by the Bay of Fundy in New Bruns.)… beautiful little seacoast city. I had to speak that night, so we didn’t stop, but proceeded about 15 minutes further to Quispamsis, a small town on the outskirts of St. John. I spoke to about 400 kids at the Tidal Impact event (I already told you about that event here) then we ate dinner with all the event’s leaders. Great group of people. We really enjoyed them.

This morning we SLEPT in for the first time in a LONG TIME. I decided to go on a run, so I did my normal routine of measuring my route with the car before I ran it. This was funny. Lori came with me and we noticed that the miles seemed to be flying by. But I measured the route, parked, then I embarked on my 5.5 mile run.

At 2 miles and couldn’t figure out what was happening. Something was wrong. Either this Canada air had given me a speed boost, or we measured wrong. At 2.5 miles it hit me. “Freaking Kilometers!!!” So as I continued my run, I started adding how much more I had to run to get even 5 miles. By the time I ran up a hill that lasted a kilometer and felt a little of the NB humidity, I ended up only running about 6 kilometers which I think is about 4 miles. Bah!!!!

Tomorrow I’ll have to reset the car back to miles and take a reading of my course again.

Lori and I ran to Tim Horton’s again this morning so she could get her morning coffee. We were there at 11 a.m. on a Tuesday… and that place was PACKED! What the heck were all these Canadians doing in this place! Don’t they have jobs! i mean…this place was full of adults, kids… you name it. It was kinda cool. It looked like a British Pub on Friday night.

I asked Lori how she liked her “Timmy’s” (that’s what the locals call a Tim Horton’s coffee) Lori said she liked it better than Starbucks. Not bad.

I like Canada.

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New Brunswick

Posted on: 07/11/09 9:10 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Tomorrow morning I fly off to New Brunswick, CANADA to be the keynote speaker at an event called Tidal Impact. I just finished speaking on the opposite U.S. coast near Seattle with my family (good times)… this coming week (CANADA) I’m bringing my wife with me. (sweet!)

I always enjoy my times speaking in Canada. I’ve never spoken at this event before. Apparently 600 to 700 youth and leaders gather from all over Atlantic Canada where they will run VBS programs, serve the homeless, act in community cleanup, etc. I’m excited.

I’m going with the theme REAL (I blogged about that when I was brainstorming it), a theme I’ve done once before. I’m really excited about my time with the youth and leaders.

My wife and I will also have time to do a little site seeing in NB. Anyone know what we should do/where we should go? Feel free to comment… I’ll be checking/approving comments at least once a day on my trip.


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United Breaks Guitars

Posted on: 07/10/09 11:20 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This is hilarious.

I fly four to eight legs a month with United Airlines and all I can say about this video is, TRUE!

In short, musician Dave Carroll was on a United flight when he heard the passenger behind him say, “My God, they’re throwing guitars out there.” He looked, and sure enough, the baggage handlers were hucking guitars. They broke his favorite guitar, gave him the runaround when he tried to get them to pay for the damages, he wrote a song about it, and it became a hit on YouTube!


I laughed so hard when I read this article and watched the video because I sit on Chicago’s runway at least once a month watching the baggage guys hucking bags, toppling them off of conveyor belts, etc. All I think is, “I’m so glad I don’t check any bags!”

Check out this article and video.

(ht to my buddy David)

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Posted on: 07/7/09 10:52 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Wow… internet access. Cool!

I’m on my fourth day of travel with my family in the Olympia (Seattle), WA area and it’s been a blur. I’m speaking at a camp called Black Lake Bible Camp this week. I’m excited because it’s been a great opportunity for ministry and a great family time for me as well.

Last night I presented the Gospel at the camp and over 30 kids gave their lives to Christ. Exciting stuff. It’s so cool seeing students praying one-on-one with counselors. Every student has a unique situation and I think one-on-one counseling is essential (I’ve jumped on my soapbox about this before) in these situations. It’s fun being just a small part of what’s going on at this junior high camp this week.

As I mentioned, I brought the family with me and we’ve been having a fun time traveling Southern Washington in between my speaking. Today we are hitting the Seattle downtown. My wife and kids have never been there, so today I’ll take them to the Pikes fish market, the pier, the Space Needle, etc. Fun stuff.

Gotta run. Just wanted to keep you posted!

If you think of it, pray for me each night at 8PM Pacific Coast time as I’m speaking to this group of junior high students.

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Look Mom, no cuss words! It must be clean!

Posted on: 07/2/09 4:53 PM | by Jonathan McKee

More and more I’m finding that many parents have no clue what content their kids are watching day to day.

  “But I use CYBERPATROL and block out porn sites from our home computer!”

  “But I block those movie channels on our cable!”

That’s what they always say. Then I ask, “Do you have iTunes?… YouTube?… MTV?”

I admit… it’s sad when we have to set up so many safeguards to protect our children. And I’m sure some parents over-react and over-protect… while others remain too lenient. I can’t provide you with an exact recipe of where that balance lies, but I can tell you that it starts with becoming aware.

Do you know what the most popular song on iTunes is right now?

Is it explicit?

Have you seen the video?

You see, those nice little “Explicit Lyrics” labels might help us filter out some music, but what will help us discern the appropriateness of the “clean” music? (that’s what our kids call the music without the explicit lyrics labels)

Let’s use the #1 song on iTunes right now as an example. It’s “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas.

Ask your kids, “Is this song clean?”

“Yes mom! See. No explicit lyrics!”

Are they right? Have you done your parental duty?

Jump on iTunes right now and take a listen. If you listen for a minute or so, it sounds innocent enough. Rather catchy too.

Are you done? Okay… maybe not.

Listen to the whole song, or jump to Google and type in “I Gotta Feeling lyrics.”

Oh my!

This is a little more disconcerting. Listen at almost two minutes when Fergie kicks in:

I feel stressed out
I wanna let it go
Lets go way out spaced out
and loosing all control

Fill up my cup
Mazal tov
Look at her dancing
just take it off

Wow. Maybe you didn’t catch that listening to it the first time.

But let’s be honest. Some parents might think that this is still pretty tame. Okay. Let’s do what the majority of kids do and look at the video. Jump to Google, YouTube or It doesn’t matter… kids use them all. Type “I Gotta Feeling Video and you’ll find it within one click. Now take a quick watch. I warn you- this video has no nudity, no sex and no cursing in it. So, it’s clean, right? Take a peek. Seriously, don’t just stop at Fergie in a thong… watch the whole thing! (Once you watch this, please don’t email me and complain that I told you to watch this. If you think this will be a temptation- do this with someone else in the room.) Remember that most your web filters won’t filter this video, because “it’s clean.”

Here’s my point: many parents I talk to have taken steps to block porn, and most good parents monitor the types of films that their kids watch… but I meet very few parents that have any idea what subtle messages are being fed to our kids through the “clean” media channels daily.

Please understand. I’m not saying that we should raise our kids in a dungeon listening to Psalty’s Christmas Special. I’m not even saying to unplug your computer from the wall or block your Disney channel. I’m just trying to advocate a little bit of education for parents about the lies our kids are hearing every day. The number one hit we just glanced at above has some pretty sensual images in the video that a teenage guy will really struggle seeing. And the song’s message of “letting it go” and “losing control” might hit home for a lot of teenagers.

Is this a good message? Is this the message you want your kids listening to?

Educate yourself. Tune into our Youth Culture Window articles. These articles reveal you the truth about subjects like the place that some teens are getting their sex advice, they give you a summary of the “junk” (literally) your kids would have seen watching the MTV Movie Awards this year, and they expose the subtle messages in today’s PG-13 films. This huge collection of articles contains a gold mine of good information for parents.

In our parent seminars, David and I try to not only expose these subtle media messages that our kids are immersing themselves with, but we also try to teach parents how to filter these influences and teach our kids discernment.

Dialogue with your kids about their media choices. You’ll find that most kids today are pretty honest.

What are your kids exposing themselves too?