Top 10 Games of the Last DECADE!

Posted on: 12/31/09 10:22 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Wow… forget looking back just one year… how about looking back a whole decade!

My son is quite a “gamer,” so I found this particular list fun. It’s the Top 10 Games of the Decade from Yahoo Games.

One thing I liked about the list was how so many innocent games made the cut. Mario, Wii Fit, Wii Sports… good stuff. It also reveals that “game play” is still important.

This list also gives a pretty good glimpse of youth and gaming culture. With game giants like HALO (remember all the craze with each release?), and Guitar Hero (#1 for so long, fastest to reach the $1 billion mark, evening beating out the Grand Theft Auto releases… yeah!).

But unfortunately, the list also reflects the sad reality of our culture with its number 1 pick, Grand Theft Auto III, a game that gives into every fleshly urge imaginable. You’ve heard me blog about one of these games before, and may have even read David’s Youth Culture Window Article about 2008’s release of Grand Theft Auto 4.

But hey, I was happy to only see one game that truly disturbed me in a list of the decade’s top 10 games. Not bad!

Click here for the slideshow/list of the Top 10 Games of the Decade.

(ht to David R. Smith)

Phoenix to Sacramento

Posted on: 12/30/09 4:32 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Ah… the good ol’ I-5.

California residents know what I’m talking about… one of the most boring drives in the nation. The Interstate 5 running North and South in California! Forget any pictures of California you’ve seen in the movies… the I-5 is as boring and desolate as they come. Every other state I fly into has greener and prettier pastures.

It’s 5:30 a.m. right now, and I’m about to launch on a trip from Phoenix, AZ (visiting my wife’s family) all the way to Sacramento. It will be about 14 hours with quick stops. We’re gonna to it straight (with help from my wife and my 16 year old driving here and there). We start on the 10 going West, and in about 4 and a half hours, jump on the 210 cutting over to the 5… then it’s 5 all the way home!

Sacto here I come!


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Bella’s Mom

Posted on: 12/28/09 11:57 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… my friend/co-worker David is hilarious.

He emailed me the link to the following video with only these words: “Bella’s Mom”

If you haven’t seen the new Twilight film, The New Moon, or listened to Todd and I rant about it on our new movie review podcast… David’s comment won’t make sense (basically, in The New Moon, Bella becomes irritatingly over-emotional) … but you’ll still find this video hilarious.

(if you can’t see the video- click here to view it)


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Top 10 Christmas Gifts NOT to Get Your Wife

Posted on: 12/24/09 8:48 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas, so I’ll do it in the way I know how… with an incredibly stupid video!

I don’t know how many of you saw this fun little video we made last year… sure to offend some!  🙂  It’s a list of Christmas shopping tips for husbands, but for those that miss the cynicism, this should be titled, “The Top 10 Christmas Gift Ideas NOT to get Your Wife!”

Women… I apologize ahead of time!  🙂

(If you can’t see the embedded video, CLICK HERE)

Merry Christmas!

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It’s About Time!

Posted on: 12/23/09 1:02 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s been a long haul… but my new book is finally in stock!

Those of you who have been my blog subscribers for a while now have been following the progress of my new book about engaging in one-on-one conversations with kids, a book titled CONNECT. Well… it’s finally released! I just got copies yesterday, and those of you that pre-ordered the books… they are in the mail.

CONNECT is my 7th book. It’s all about mentoring kids in one-on-one relationships. It deals with everything from how to talk with kids when you first meet them, how to engage them in spiritual conversations, and how to disciple believers. The book also provides a training exercise that youth ministry leadership teams can do together to take a spiritual inventory of their youth ministry and keep their leaders accountable to connecting with kids.

After teaching this material at a training workshop for a couple years now, I’ve decided to make my ppt training available to anyone who buys the book uniquely from us (click here for more about this).

I’m really excited to see this book finally arrive. If you missed the excitement, you’ll want to read my earlier blog about what happened with the first printing of the book. Well… we have copies of the book in stock now… a great gift for all the adult leaders on your youth ministry team!  🙂

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Cookies So Good You’ll Cry!

Posted on: 12/21/09 10:48 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… last year I opened a door to something that can’t be closed. It was around last Christmas, and I shared a blog about my hot wife baking cookies in the kitchen… the best cookies in the Milky Way! These are a recipe from my wife’s friend Dixie, and I promise you, your taste buds have never experienced this kind of pleasure!

In this blog last year, I gave you the recipe for these cookies. In the weeks to follow, I began getting emails… with DROOL on them! That’s right… e-drool! They are that good!

Those of you that tried them last year, feel free to comment!

Guys… bake these for your wives or girlfriends or mother! They’ll ravish you with love! I dare you to bake these cookies! Once you try these… you’ll never go back!

Here’s the recipe. It makes a huge batch!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dixie’s Recipe

2 cups butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups flour
5 cups oatmeal
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. baking soda
24 oz. chocolate chips
one 8oz. Hershey bar
3 cups chopped walnuts (optional)

Cream together- butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Set aside.

Using a blender, grind all of oatmeal into fine powder (do a small amount at a time). Pour into a LARGE bowl. Next, grate chocolate bar and combine with oatmeal. Now add flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda to same bowl and mix well. Combine creamed ingredients and dry mixture (here’s where the stirring takes some real strength, a strong spoon… and a big bowl!) After well blended, add chocolate chips and nuts. (and this is where I eat a bunch of the dough!)

Make golf ball size cookies. Place 2” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for about 9-11 min.

Oh yeah… you are gonna thank me later for this!

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Annual Movie Review Podcast

Posted on: 12/19/09 11:10 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I can’t believe that this is our third one… wow… time flies.

Many of you listen to our THE SOURCE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY podcasts. We’ve been doing them since May of 2007. And yesterday we just launched our third annual Movie Review Podcast (so much fun).

This is the podcast where Todd and I get together, review our favorite films of the year, review a film together and then talk a little bit about using movies in ministry. This is a chance for you to actually hear the two guys that bring you all the reviews on our MOVIE REVIEW page. If you like movies or are looking for movies to use for discussing with kids… you’ll enjoy this podcast.

This year Todd and I start by reviewing New Moon. Funny… we talk quite a bit about how parents should respond to this film.

Then we share our favorite five films of the year– five films you won’t see on other critics’ list. Films that your average joe will enjoy.

Pop on our podcast page and take a look. Or… just go to iTunes and search for Jonathan McKee and you’ll see THE SOURCE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY podcast as a choice.


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My Friend Todd

Posted on: 12/17/09 10:18 AM | by Jonathan McKee

If you’ve been a subscriber to my blog or a visitor of our website for even a short while, you’ve heard me talk about my friend Todd Pearage. Todd is not only one of our writers, he is also a youth worker out on the front lines. Or… was…

A little while ago Todd lost his job as a youth pastor.

Yeah… Merry Christmas.

I’ll give you the ugly details in a minute. But first let me brag about my friend. I met Todd years ago on a speaking trip. One of the things that first drew me to the guy was his eagerness to grow and learn everything he could about youth ministry. Fast forward a couple years and Todd began volunteering for our ministry at writing curriculum (the brand new Miley music discussion featured on our front page right now is one of his) and doing occasional movie reviews. Now he actually manages our movie review page and has joined us on numerous THE SOURCE PODCASTS, including our annual movie review podcast (the third of which will premier this weekend on our web site).

Our readers have really enjoyed what Todd has offered over the years. After Todd’s “Skate Church” podcast, we received great feedback from people that appreciated Todd’s insight as a guy “out on the front lines” trying to make an eternal difference in the lives of kids.

I wish our little non-profit had the money to hire Todd full time. I feel lucky to have him just a few hours a week.

Needless to say, Todd is having a rough Christmas this year. Please pray for Todd, his wife and his two children.

Unfortunately, Todd’s old church had no idea what they just let slip through their fingers. When they hired him years ago, the head pastor wasn’t even in the hiring process. Long story, but the church was “between pastors.” The group that hired him assured Todd that they were looking for someone “contemporary.”

Todd came into the church, and despite the volatile leadership above him, Todd was a phenomenal youth pastor to those kids. I got a chance to see his ministry first-hand on a few occasions in my travels.

I’ve had plenty of friends lose their jobs in this economy because of downsizing or budget cuts. Todd didn’t lose his job for any of those reasons. Todd got “let go” by his church because he was too “contemporary” (the very thing he was hired for). When Todd first got the job, leadership changed, and they didn’t like “contemporary” any more. A couple examples:

1. He brought in Christian bands for concerts.

2. He didn’t wear a suit on Sunday morning.

Todd is the most humble guy. The “suit” story illustrates this. Todd didn’t have a suit. The “current” pastor told him that was okay. But one week a guy in the congregation with deep pockets told the pastor that Todd should be wearing a suit on Sunday morning. That week, Todd was told by the same pastor to buy a suit.

Todd did, without complaint. I happened to call him when he was shopping for it and he told me the whole story. I (being true to my Irish roots) flipped out. “You’re serious!!!!”

When Todd was eventually “asked to step down,” Todd didn’t make a scene at all. Todd went quietly. The whole situation really has me torn up.

Within two weeks the new pastor hired his best friend’s son.


Todd is the second guy I’ve personally seen land blasted by the church in the last year. In both situations, there was no reason to “let them go,” there was no “sin,” and it definitely wasn’t because they weren’t performing their job well …it was simply bad leadership. Regardless, both my friends exited humbly.

I know Todd will be hired by another church soon… he’s an amazing youth pastor. In the meantime, he’s doing odd jobs to pay bills, writing for us and for Interlinc. Please keep Todd in prayer.

David and I recorded a special podcast with Todd that we’re going to air in January, talking about “transitions” in ministry. I look forward to you all hearing that. In the meantime, I encourage you to all listen to Todd and I this weekend when we release our third annual movie review podcast on our PODCAST PAGE.

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Brand New Report on Minors Sexting

Posted on: 12/15/09 11:48 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Emphasis on “brand new” and emphasis on “minors.”

Yes, in the last year we’ve heard an abundance of reports about “sexting” … that’s when teenagers decide to use their mobile phones to send sexual text messages or images to each other. At noon today (hence the words “brand new”), Pew Internet released their newest report, Teens and Sexting, by Amanda Lenhart, their Senior Research Specialist.

The glaring number that popped right off the page at me was 4%. That’s right– this report shows only “4% of cell-owning teens ages 12-17 say they have sent sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images of themselves to someone else via text messages.”

The 4% popped out at me because this is by far the lowest number I’ve seen yet and I wanted to know if it was accurate. (Just a week or so ago I blogged about another new poll citing “more than a quarter of young people have been involved in sexting.”)

First, let me note that people tend to love to post the “bigger” or more shocking numbers when these reports are released. Take, for example, CNN’s article on the subject released today. Their headline: “15 Percent of Teens Get Sexual Text Messages.” I guess that sounds a lot better than a mere 4% who send them.  🙂

That being said, I really thought that 4% sounded low.

That’s why I, first, read the entire report, available as a PDF download, including the section on the study’s “methodology.” Then… I couldn’t help it. I had to call Pew Internet and ask them myself. I dialed their number and to my surprise got Amanda Lenhart on the phone. After introducing myself and thanking her for her report, I asked, “Why the disparity between these numbers and other reports?” I quickly sited the MTV/AP study, a study that this Pew Internet report even cited. In that study they reported that 19% of teens ages 13-18 had sent a sexually suggestive text message or email with nude or nearly-nude photos. It seemed that 4% and 19% weren’t very close.

She was not only happy to engage in a dialogue about the study, she was very articulate in her responses to my questions. The first thing she highlighted was that the MTV/AP study included 18 and 19 year-olds, where her report only went up to age 17, and that really changes the numbers. I agreed, noting that her own report revealed 8% of 17-year-olds and sent sexually provocative images via text and 30% had received them. The older kids are, the more they do this. It’s fairly clear that 18 and 19-year-olds really boost the percentages.

Looking back at the more recent AP-MTV poll that I blogged about just last week, that report (citing “more than a quarter of young people have been involved in sexting”) was a study of 14-24-year-olds. It’s pretty important to notice those ages.

She explained that in her report she wanted to highlight the sexting by “minors.” So that difference in age accounts for much of the difference in percentages.

Her report spoke to the importance of this issue specifically with minors because of the laws and legislation emerging to deal with the issue. The report details several incidents where teenagers were accused, prosecuted or even listed as sex offenders for sending nude pictures to other minors.

We went on to talk about the methodology of the study. Her study was a phone study that required the consent of a parent to talk to the minor. I asked Ms. Lenhart blatantly, “Don’t you think that might affect your results, the fact that you are only talking to teenagers whose parents connected you with them?” I shared my personal experience with the large percentage of troubled teens whose relationships with their parents were less than civil. I don’t think any of those kids would have ever made it to the phone. I asked her, “Is this survey missing those kids?”

She contended that many of the kids who were surveyed seemed reluctant at first to even want to talk on the phone. She felt that their survey reached all kinds of kids. She went on to describe how accurate these samplings can be.

She summarized by saying that she didn’t think the numbers were that far off from other studies like the MTV/AP report when you take into consideration the age difference and the plus or minus 4% accuracy that most these studies have.

I was pretty convinced, once talking with her. The only thing that still has me skeptical is the phone call methodology (you can read all about it in the report). I’m not expert when it comes to surveys, but as a guy who has spent a lot of time on campus, it seems to me the best way to do these studies would be in cooperation with the schools, using a random mix of schools and a random sampling of kids (of all socio-economic backgrounds, different races, different academic abilities) … pull them from class and interview them. I would probably even try a personal interview (face to face) followed by an anonymous interview at a computer screen where the kids are assured that their answers are kept anonymous- noting the difference between the results as a whole.

Just my two cents.

Anyway, I encourage you to read her whole report. Fascinating stuff. Here’s a glimpse at the overview:

The report also shared some interesting new tidbits, including the newest mobile phone use data (an update from the data I shared just yesterday!), with the 2009 statistic that now 58% of 12-year-olds own a cell phone (I’ll have to use that stat with my 12-year-old daughter now when she says that all her friends own cell phones. Dang. It keeps changing in her favor!)

Teens and Mobile Phones Over the Past 5 Years

Posted on: 12/14/09 11:09 AM | by Jonathan McKee

As a parent of two teenagers and a tween, I can assure you that “a cell phone” is still the hot item on the Christmas list of kids today. It’s definitely on my 12-year-old’s Christmas list. She claims that she’s the only one without it.

Little did she know that I could tell her exactly what percentage of her friends have one!  🙂  Yes, 51% of 12-year olds own cell phones. So yes, she’s in the minority, but just barely!

The fascinating fact is how much this percentage has grown in the last 5 years. In 2004, only 18% of 12-year-olds owned a cell phone.

Where am I getting this? Pew Internet just did a study a few months back looking back at teen mobile use over the last five years. Fascinating report! It’s amazing to see the growth in teen mobile phone use! (note: a few weeks ago I blogged about teen media use and showed a similar Neilson report, although that chart showed what percentage of kids get their first cell phone at what age).

Look at the change from 2004 (dark blue) to now (light blue) for ages 12-17:

This entire report is interesting. It includes teens daily activities on a phone, the demographics of teen cell phone users, how many teen cell phone users compared to adults, etc.

I find this chart even more fascinating:

Forget the ages for a second. Look at the mobile time (dark blue) vs. face-to-face time (light blue)! See how much more kids are relying on technology than good ol’ face-to-face time? The funny thing is, kids are becoming less comfortable talking face-to-face.

I keep seeing this fact popping up in new studies. In Chapter 2 of my CONNECT book (in stock within a week) I touched on that very subject, highlighting the decrease in “face-to-face” time and the void that it’s creating in kids lives (I actually blogged about that a while back- people today have less close friends). I think it’s crucial as parents and youth workers to connect with kids “face-to-face.” This is slowly becoming more difficult in today’s society… hence the need for a book helping adults connect with kids.   🙂