Who Teenagers Call, Trust, Talk With…

Posted on: 01/11/10 1:02 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Who would your kids call first if they were in trouble? Mom? Dad? Friends? Boy/Girlfriend?

Good question. I’m sure Mom and Dad would be curious of that answer. What about these questions?

  Who do they trust the most?

  Who understands them best?

  Who can they talk most openly with?

These are just some of the questions asked in a recent study by Harris Interactive. Check out the top two answers to each question, by age, recorded on this chart:

Mom and Dad scored pretty high on the first question, and stayed on the chart with most the questions to 8-12 year-ods. But Dad dropped off the radar with teenagers on question number two, “Who do you trust the most?” Sad. Actually, Dad drops off the list for every other question to teenagers, where Mom maintains her status as number two in many instances.

Interesting stuff. And a sobering glimpse for dads.

Harris Interactive has a little youth culture newsletter that goes out every few months titled “Trends & Tudes.” It’s usually got some pretty good studies about today’s teenaged attitudes and trends.

Posted in Youth Culture |  | Leave A Comment

Nashville, TN

Posted on: 01/8/10 5:15 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m at the airport right now getting ready to board a plane to Denver, then onto Nashville. I’ll be spending two days there teaching my Connect Workshop to a group of youth workers and taking them through my “sticky-note” exercise. John, the youth pastor at this particular church, bought each of the members of his team of volunteers my brand new Connect book, and now he’s bringing me out to train them how to connect with kids.

I’m really excited about this weekend for several reasons:

FIRST… when I get to Nashville, John is taking me out to get some authentic Bar BQ. For those of you not familiar with “real Bar BQ,” I warn you, someone from TN might just set you straight. From my last few trips to TN I learned that Bar BQ means only one thing: pulled pork on a bun. There’s only one question they ask you. “Do you want slaw on it?” (Which I always answer, “No.”) The first time I was in TN and someone mentioned Bar BQ, I said, “Bar BQed what?” They replied, “See, out there in California y’all think that Bar BQ is a verb. Bar BQ is a noun and it means one thing: pulled pork on a bun.” So I asked them. “What is it that I do to my burgers then when I throw them on my Weber grill?” They told me, “You grill them.”

Funny, in Texas they informed me that the TN folk got it wrong. Yes, Bar BQ is a verb, but it means the slow cooking of any meat. So now I get a kick out of asking people what Bar BQ means in their state.

Just added: Joseph just linked this video in the comments below to help us clear up any confusion on Bar BQ… hilarious!

(click here for the video if you don’t see it embedded above)

SECOND… the second thing I’m excited about this weekend is that I just love training adults, and that’s all we’re doing this weekend– training adult youth workers. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy sharing the WORD with students. But I think of it this way. The last group of students I spoke too had about 300 of them in the room. The last time I trained adults there were a little less than 200. But when I trained those 200 adults, I could see the excitement as each of those adults left the room, excited about connecting with maybe 5 or 10 students. Do the math. If each of only 150 adults makes an impact in just 5 kids that year… that’s 750 kids impacted this year… not including any students that they’ll go on to impact in the future. I love equipping adults to love kids and share Christ’s love! This weekend will be dedicated to that!

THIRD… I’m training tonight (Friday), then Saturday, then hopping on a plane Saturday afternoon and getting back to my family by Saturday night, going to my own church on Sunday a.m. Love it when that happens!

Gotta go… about to board. Hmmmmm…. already thinkin’ about that Bar BQ!  🙂

Posted in Humor, Personal, Travel |  | Leave A Comment

A Quick Interview With Tic… Because He’s Back

Posted on: 01/7/10 8:33 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The news is starting to buzz this Thursday morning. Yes, Tic is back. So I grabbed him and asked him a few questions that we’re all wondering.

I’m talking about Youth Specialties(YS). After some crazy transitions over the last few years (even months!), the new YS just made a very smart move… they brought back Tic Long.

YS is a household name to those of us in the youth ministry world. In the 70’s, youth workers couldn’t get enough of their “IDEA” books. My dad was a youth minister in the 60’s and 70’s, so I was introduced to YS’s stuff as a kid. My brother and I used to do YS skits for my parents for fun. Mike Yak and Wayne Rice– the founders- were heroes to most youth ministers because they had the guts to talk about the elephants in the room, and then provide us with some resources to help us along the way.

After navigating the youth ministry world for a few years, my friend Ray Johnston introduced me to Tic Long, one of the head guys at YS at the time (in the 90’s). Tic was the guy who gave me a shot at training at the National Youth Workers Convention. I’ve been teaching there since, and they have published many of my books.

In the last few years YS has had some major drawbacks. My buddy Mike A. of Mikey’s Funnies was let go. Mike Yak tragically died. Tic was let go. Zondervan took over. Financial upset. Marko was let go and now this company that many of us don’t know, “YouthWorks,” bought Zondervan out. Many of us have been sitting around and saying, “Is YS even YS anymore?” Their publishing house wasn’t rocked that hard… but their events???

So I was pretty excited when I heard Tic was back. If you’re like me… you’ve got questions. That’s why I contacted Tic and asked him myself. Listen in:

JONATHAN: Hey Tic… so good to hear that you’ll be back with YS. That’s going to be great news for so many. A few quick questions about this transition: First, what are you most excited about now that you’ve rejoined the YS team?

TIC: That I still get to serve youth workers at a place I love.

JONATHAN: Very cool. Now, many of us don’t know these “YouthWorks” guys that just took over YS. They seem like nice enough guys, and they have an impressive history of putting on good events. Do you have any personal experiences with these guys that you can share with us? Throw us a bone here!

TIC: I didn’t know them well but when I got to know them I got really excited. They were one of the main reasons I came back. They walk the talk. Like the fact they give away about a million dollars a year back into the communities they serve. I love their humble spirit. I love how they love youth workers.

JONATHAN: It was already a transition doing YS without Yak. What will it be like without Marko?

TIC: Nothing is as hard as losing Yac. YS has had some hard transitions not only when Mike died but going from this small little independent ministry to be part of the corporate world in which Zondervan lives in, when I left, when the 11 people left when I did, Marko’s leaving, then another sale….Yikes that’s just a lot to work through. It will be hard without Marko but I think it will be way easier for YS with me coming back instead of somebody completely new because I carry the YS DNA and know so many of the YS family of friends.

JONATHAN: What is the first thing on your “To Do” list?

TIC: Hug everybody at YS. I have not even been back at the office yet.  I decided to come back after Christmas and the first week of Jan. have been at YouthWorks HQ. I get into the office Friday.

JONATHAN: Cool. Give Adam McLane a big kiss for me. Uh… did I just say that outloud? Moving on! What’s the scariest part of this new job?

TIC: Making sure I keep balance in my life. It is really easy for me to think about YS 24/7 and that is not healthy. I love what we do so much that in the past I was not good at setting boundaries. I hope to be better at it this time around. To hold it a little more loosely. To actually live like I am trusting God that YS is his and not just say that.

JONATHAN:  That’s it! Thanks for taking some time with me! Welcome back bro.

The Sticky-note Exercise

Posted on: 01/6/10 10:43 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The sticky-note exercise- It’s a great little exercise laid out in my new book that I’ve been doing in my Connect training workshop to help youth ministries not only take a spiritual pulse of their students, but also keep accountable to spiritual growth. I’ll actually be flying out to Nashville this weekend to be leading a church through the exercise. Fun stuff!

It goes like this. I hand everyone sticky-notes and have them each write the names of students they encounter in their ministry, one name per sticky-note. Then I have them each come up and place the sticky-note on an easel or chart on the wall, divided by the six types of kids (something they are familiar with at this point in the training). At this point we spend some time analyzing the trends that we notice, not only noticing any patterns, but taking note of the individual needs of kids.

That’s just a snapshot… it’s really revealing stuff.

This exercise is finally in print in my new book Connect. I was curious how people were going to respond now that I’ve “spelled it out” for them in my book, helping them take all they’ve learned about the six types of students they’ll encounter and applying it in their ministry with some action steps. We tried to make it easy, even including a free ppt training to anyone who buys the book from us, that way youth workers can take their entire team through this exercise.

I’ve been doing the training for a few years now. I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally be able to hand people the entire training, in essence, in book form.

So far I’ve been hearing good feedback about the book. Yesterday I received these two emails:

I just finished chapter 5 this morning! I love the great tips, humor, and how easy it is to read! I’m sharing a bunch of stuff (including F.A.R.T.) with my leadership team tonight in our meeting. Thanks for writing this book! I met you at a YS convention a few years ago, won 2 of your books, and at this point, I think I’ve bought every book you’ve written. They have been so helpful to me! Thanks for your ministry!    – Chris

Excellent stuff.  I am all about relational ministry & looking for your book to help train volunteers. You seem to say what I do better than I can. Been in youth ministry for 20 years and not sure why God still has me here except that I have a passion for kids & still am able to connect to them.  I appreciate your work!  Thanks   -Mike

I got another influx of emails yesterday from people who just received the book and are starting it this week. Feel free to email me your feedback once you dive in! I love hearing responses.

For those who haven’t got this book yet, make sure and grab it from us on our website. We’re the only ones who are giving away the free ppt training.

I guess we’re “missing the mark”

Posted on: 01/4/10 11:13 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I get all kinds of emails and feedback from people about the free resources and articles we provide. Here’s an interesting one to ponder. I can’t say I like this person’s first sentence: “The youth culture window that you guys offer is missing the mark.”

He’s talking about our Youth Culture Window (YCW) articles, featured in the big magnifying glass on the front page of our web site each week.

Let me be the first to verbalize, “Don’t worry David (David writes over 80% of our YCW articles), I think you’re right on the mark! Critics are a dime a dozen. I appreciate your work!”

Here’s this guy’s entire email to us:

The youth culture window that you guys offer is missing the mark. Lets be honest, the majority of the posts deal with sex. This is what our culture as a church thinks is crucial to fight. Violence is also out there. Then comes what about the good stuff going on in culture? It is sad that all you can find in culture is things to complain about. Ultimately, what you are addressing is the symptoms of the larger issues within culture. Please, PLEASE, read Niebuhr’s “Christ & Culture” and see if you can incorporate something more than the “Christ against Culture” attitude.

It’s interesting that he observed that most of our posts have to do with sex. I agree. We simply report what’s going on in today’s youth culture and the media, and that’s pretty sex driven. I wish it wasn’t.

I also find it intriguing that he mentioned how much of this was “bad news.” David and I talk about this frequently as we research current attitudes and trends. We constantly are asking, “Isn’t there something mainstream that’s good that we can report about” And that’s the key– we want to try to focus on attitudes and trends that are predominant across the board, not the exception.

Considering his criticism, I looked at the list of our last few articles released and the subjects they covered.:

The New Form of Phone Sex (1/2/2010)
Beyoncé’s Newest Song “Video Phone”
This article is about Beyonce’s newest song and video which are filled with sexual imagery.

The #1 Hits of 2009 (12/11/2009)
A Review of 2009’s Top Songs and Their Message
This article reviews all the top songs of 2009, whatever their message.

Culture’s Confusion Over Sex (12/4/2009)
And The Impact It’s Making On Teens
Yes, this article is about sex, specifically new research about the confusing messages our students are being inundated with.

Fireflies from Owl City (11/28/2009)
Is That a Christian at the Top of the Charts?
This article is about a new song and artist that is not only popular… he’s clean!

Twilight Goes ‘Emo’ (11/12/2009)
Bella’s Self Destructive Dependence on Edward
This article is about on of the biggest media youth culture phenomenons of the year, the newest film from the Twilight series. The article focuses most of its attention on self destructive behavior.

Do Threesomes Come in Threes? (11/4/2009)
Youth Media Ups the Ante with Sexy Trios
This article focuses on the abundance of recent threesomes in the media, as well as the onslaught of “bi-curious” attitudes and activity portrayed.

“I’m Trying to Talk to You!” (10/30/2009)
Getting the Attention of Teenagers
This article discusses the different communication technologies used for contacting students and their effectiveness.

So… are our YCW articles a misrepresentation?