Looking at Colleges With Alec

Posted on: 11/7/09 11:18 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I am in Southern California this weekend speaking at a big junior high event put on by the South California Nazarene churches. I decided to bring my son Alec with me so we could look at some “SoCal” (Southern Calif.) colleges. He’s a junior in high school right now, but we wanted to get an idea of what schools to consider.

Usually when I travel I just grab a cheap rental car. But since I have Alec with me,  I dropped a few extra bucks and rented a brand new Camero (what can I say… as a frequent renter, Budget gave me a deal!) Alec is loving touring SoCal in a new Camero- makes for a fun father/son weekend. He had me quick a few pics of him in the car to send to text to his buddy back home!

Friday the two of us went by Biola University and took an official tour. Alec really liked what he saw. We had heard from several friends that Biola had a real “community” feel… almost like family. The campus was really friendly. I was also impressed that every student is required to get a Bible minor.

Today when I finished speaking we stopped by Vanguard University near Newport Beach. Very pretty location. We couldn’t get the official tour there because of my speaking schedule (who’s gonna give a tour at 5 p.m. on Saturday?)  But we stopped by and asked random students on campus about the school. The students were very nice and informative. The dorms looked nice- we even went in the cafeteria- didn’t look half bad. It was hard to get a “feel” for the campus at night- so it was hard to compare to Biola. But we liked what we saw. (Obviously we’ve been looking at academics at these schools too… but the “on campus” peeks give you a look at things that you can’t see from reading brochures about majors, minors, requirements, etc.)

Tomorrow (Sunday) we are going by Point Loma. We have a friend attending there right now (one of the students I interviewed on our podcast last year) and she’s gonna show us around. We’re staying the night in San Diego right now- truly one of the more beautiful locations in the U.S.

The weekend has been great so far. Alec keeps mentioning how excited he is about college now. I’m excited to hear that out of him (Muuuuuaaaaahahahahah! My college “tour” weekend has worked exactly as I planned!)

One thing all three of the colleges have in common: they’re gonna break us financially!!!!   🙂 

My kids are worth it!   (although if any of you would like to introduce me to anyone in admissions or on any scholarship commitees at these schools… feel free!)   🙂

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Miley… Voted Worse Influence

Posted on: 11/5/09 10:25 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… maybe some of you have already voted off Miley in your own minds. But you’re not alone.

That’s right… her own fans just voted her as the worst celebrity influence of 2009, joining the ranks of Britney Spears and Kanye West.

Last week AOL’s JSYK.com, a website aimed at 9-15 year olds, released the results of their poll where Miley took 42 percent of the votes for worst celebrity influence. Reuters reports:

Miley Cyrus, one of Disney’s hottest stars of the past three years with hit records and hit films, has been voted the worst celebrity influence of 2009 by the very people who made her a star, tweens and teens, according to an online poll on Wednesday.

Cyrus, 16, took 42 percent of votes in the poll for AOL’s JSYK.com (Just So You Know) website aimed at 9-15 year-olds, pushing Britney Spears and rapper Kanye West into second and third places, respectively, in a section on worst celebrity influences of the year.

I’ve actually gone to bat for Miley a few times in my blog. She’s young… and I did some stupid things in my teenage years. But it’s difficult when she keeps returning to her vomit like that Proverbial dog, with antics like those at this year’s Teen Choice Awards. Come on Miley… my kids like you!

But I guess not all kids do… 42%… to be specific.

Socially Isolated… or Are We?

Posted on: 11/4/09 12:40 PM | by Jonathan McKee

The Pew Internet & American Life Project just came out with a fascinating new report today about Social Isolation and New Technology. The gist of the report seems to contend: Yes, technology does lead some people to become more socially isolated, but not as much as some have argued.

For example:

  • The average size of American’s core discussion networks has declined since 1985; the mean network size has dropped by about one-third or a loss of approximately one confidant.
  • Users of social networking services at 26% less likely to use their neighbors as a source of companionship.
  • Internet Users are 40% less likely to rely on neighbors for help in caring for themselves or a family member.

And I found this little fact interesting as well…

  • Internet users are 38% less likely to rely exclusively on their spouses/partners as discussion confidants. 

(I’ll let you decide if that’s good or bad.)   🙂

I was very curious about this report, because I’ve done a lot of research on the subject for two of my recent books.

1. In my book, THE NEW BREED, about recruiting and training this “new breed” of 21st Century volunteers, my dad and I shared several studies about the growing trend toward social isolation. We quoted some studies showing that people have lost at least one core confidant. Funny… this new report shares the exact same thing. Apparently some reports inflate this. 

2. In my book about adults connecting with kids that comes out next month (CONNECT), I spent a little bit of time discussing how kids isolate themselves socially, hiding in front of a “screen” of some kind, instead of “face-to-face” communication. I find this Pew Internet report fascinating, because it conveys that technology isn’t isolating people as much as we might think. This made me happy with a decision I made in writing my CONNECT book… I opted to not devote a lot of time to mere “virtual” communication (some people seemed to think we should “put all our cards in this basket.” I disagreed.) I basically concluded that students were isolating themselves more and more, and that face to face communication was becoming difficult for some kids at first. So I recommended becoming familiar with technology and even using it as a stepping stone, but not as a replacement for face-to-face communication. Here’s a snippet:

This increase in social isolation is creating a relational void in the lives of students today. We have an incredible opportunity to meet this need with something real, face-to-face relationships.

Even though teens might be more comfortable with us connecting with them through cell phones and computers, I see these digital mediums only as stepping-stones for youth workers to engage in face-to-face communication. This is not just because of the obvious value of face-to-face conversations, but also because of the increasing dangers emerging with technology. Legislation is changing regarding appropriate digital communication between adult mentors and students. (I’ll touch on this in greater detail in chapter 13 when I talk about the boundaries and precautions we should consider with relational ministry.)

As we make connecting one-on-one a priority in our ministry, we may often utilize technology as a tool to transition toward more face-to-face conversations. In relational ministry, technology should be used as a tool, not a crutch.

(We are offering a great deal on the pre-sale of this book right now on our website, where you can get it from us about a month before anyone else, along with a free ppt training we’re giving away).

I encourage you to check out this Pew Internet report. I fully agree with their results.


Connecting With Today’s Teenagers

Posted on: 11/2/09 11:37 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you have been asking about my newest book, due on the shelves this January. The book is called CONNECT: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation… and I just talked with Zondervan… it looks like I’m going to be able to get copies in your hands in about a month- early December- if you pre-order through our website (we’re giving away a free powerpoint to anyone who orders from us as well– a tool to equip your adult leaders how to connect with your kids).

I’m really excited about this book, more excited than anything I’ve ever written about. This book is a result of years of interacting with youth workers across the country and observing the same thing again and again– adults need to learn not only the importance of connecting with students, but how to do it!

I’ve got some great feedback so far about the book from ministry friends like Dan Kimball, Walt Mueller, Greg Stier, Les Christie, etc. I’ll spare you all of their comments about the book right now, for time’s sake, and just share one. Here’s what Dr. Dave Rahn said about it (Dave is the Director of the MA in Youth Ministry Leadership at Huntington University and also part of Youth for Christ’s national office)…


The Zondervan folks just sent me your manuscript this week with a cover letter asking for an endorsement.  I curled up with it last night and this morning.


Really, really good work, Jonathan.  I will give my copy to our national Campus Life director, Dave Ramseyer, when I’m with him next week (only b/c the Z folks will send me a free copy later!).  It may be the most helpful single book on the market to push out for training adults in relational ministry.  I will do far more than endorse this book…I will push it…

Seriously.  This book will help us help our YFC folks get it.  And it will also broaden what we care most about: that loving adults come alongside kids to be used by God for their transformation.  I’ll write the endorsement now.  Thanks for using your gifts, experiences and passion so well for the Kingdom.


Here’s his official endorsement.

Connect needs to be in the hands of everyone–paid or unpaid–who works with kids for the cause of Christ. It is so easy to read and so full of practical tips and stories that it succeeds in becoming the kind of rare book that both inspires and instructs, a stand alone coaching resource I urge our YFC family to use with all of our adult volunteers. By drilling deeply into one of youth ministry’s most significant pressure points I hope that Jonathan will lead readers to “tap out” and surrender to the challenge of making one-on-one relationships with every type of young person their priority.
Dr. Dave Rahn
Youth for Christ/USA Chief Ministry Officer and Huntington University Director of MA in Youth Ministry Leadership

I’ll post more comments later.

I just wanted to give you all a chance at getting this book through our pre-order. We’re offering a better price than anywhere else, we’ll get it to you earlier, and we’re throwing in the free ppt training- because that’s what we like to do!

Chris and Wayne Moving Up Fast

Posted on: 11/1/09 8:46 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last Tuesday a new song and video was released by Chris Brown and Lil Wayne, a song called I Can Transform Ya.

I blogged about it earlier in the week, predicting that it would move up the charts fast. Unfortunately, I didn’t know exactly how accurate my guess would be. Today the video (only 5 days old) is already #5 on iTunes, and rapidly moving to the top 10 in downloaded songs. It’s crazy how fast this song is moving up the charts. When I checked iTunes this morning, the video was #7. It has risen 2 spots in just 10 hours!

This song, where Lil Wayne says that he can “transform a good girl to a freak” (my earlier blog about it gave you a glimpse of the lyrics) is the same ol’ trash that hip hop has been dishing out for years. It’s not “explicit” by the world’s standards (no cuss words), it just objectifies women and refers to sex as casually as any other recreational activity.


I’m just sad that I was correct about its rise on the charts.

Keep your eye on it… it will keep rising.