This Weekend

Posted on: 09/30/10 9:34 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This weekend is going to be a little crazy for me. I’d love your prayers.

On Saturday I’m running a 5K for our ministry. When I finish that event, I quickly shower, then hop on a plane and head to San Diego to the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention where I’ll be mingling with youth workers and friends, and teaching two workshops:

Using 10-Minute Talks: Speaking to Generations with Short Attention Spans

Ministry by Teenagers: Developing Leaders from Within

I’ve taught the “10-Minute Talks” workshop a few times at the conference. The “Ministry by Teenagers” is new, based off my brand new book coming out this December (we’ll be selling it on our site as well then).

I’ll be Twittering from the conference. I’m supposed to get together with Greg Stier, Wayne Rice, Adam McLane and others… so I’ll keep you all updated via my Twitter page.

While all this is going on… my 15-year-old daughter is going to her first dance… and I WON’T BE THERE TO SEE HER OFF! That’s terrible! (can someone hear “Cats in the Cradle” playing???) I’m going to blog more about this later- I need to talk more about this. Also, I’m going to be chaperoning a public H.S. school dance in one week (a great way to keep current with youth culture), so I’ll be blogging and tweeting about that as well.

Thanks for your prayers!

Be the First

Posted on: 09/29/10 10:58 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s official. I just “Tweeted.”

I’ve finally given in to all the people who keep bugging me, “Do you have a Twitter?” “Do you have a Facebook?” We’re launching both! (Facebook is within days of launching)

Jump on my Twitter page and be the first to follow my tweets:  We will be having a contest uniquely for my Twitter subscribers all through October, so sign up to follow that page now.

Check out my first Tweets!  (Man, I love saying that! “Tweets!”)

MTV at it again

Posted on: 09/27/10 5:18 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Sex, drama, blurred nudity, hookups, more blurred nudity, flights, obscenities, even more blurred nudity…

No, I’m not talking about a new show on HB-HO or Skin-a-max (they don’t blur), I’m talking about a new series that starts next week on MTV… a show that’s been effectively marketed to our kids.

If you happened to watch this year’s MTV Video Music Awards a few weeks ago to get an accurate glimpse into the porthole of pop culture (my two cents on that award show here), then you might have been just as surprised with some of the commercials as the show itself. That Sunday, the world saw the preview for the new MTV series, The Challenge Cutthroat, airing next week on October 6th.

So what will our kids see if they watch this MTV reality series?

Let me stop right there.

First. I’m not a parent who locks my kids in the dungeon only to release them at age 18. I believe in teaching my kids to make good media decisions (I talked about this in detail in my recent article, “To Glee or Not to Glee,” and in my article, “Dad, Can I Download This Song?“). But there are some media decisions I make to protect my kids. One of those is blocking MTV. Yes… I just block it. I find nothing of any value on that channel at all. I’m just doing them a favor.

That being said, I’m always amazed at how many parents allow their kids to watch the shows that MTV continues to offer. I’m not even going to argue the point. I’m simply going to link the “preview” for this new show, The Challenge Cutthroat, and let you decide for yourselves.

WARNING: Even though there is no nudity or language in this clip (yeah, it’s all blurred and bleeped), this is going to really offend some of you. And if it does… good! You should be offended. It’s smutty, suggestive and sexually charged (guys, you might not even want to watch this little preview alone)… and it’s marketed to our kids. I encourage parents to watch it as a couple. (And before you email me or comment on this blog, “Why did you even link that. We don’t need to see that?” Let me just say this. Most of the parents who object to me showing that clip are the same ones who don’t realize that their own kids are watching stuff like that. Argue with me if you want, but I’ve seen it hundreds of times.)

MTV knows that the VMA awards show is THE biggest watched cable show of the year by young people age 12-34, so they always show previews for series like these to build anticipation and create buzz among kids. Years ago Tila Tequila was launched this way and had a HUGE following (6 million total viewers each week- the most watched telecast amoung viewers since The Osbournes). Tila went two seasons, then MTV upped the ante with their show A Double Shot at Love, with two bisexual hotties. Twice as sexy.

Now they’ll do it again with The Challenge Cutthroat.

MTV is about one thing: ratings. And their target market: 12-34 year olds.

Just thought you might wanna know.

Katy Perry Cut from Sesame Street

Posted on: 09/24/10 2:18 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Some call it controversy… I call it a good decision.

Katy Perry had what Sesame Street called a “play date” with Elmo where she was going to sing her song Hot N’ Cold with the little guy. But Sesame Street made a judgment call: Katy’s dress was too revealing.

Wow. Someone finally takes a stand. Pinch me. Am I dreaming?

Funny… the dress isn’t that revealing, but I can think of about 100 other reasons why I think Katy shouldn’t be on Sesame Street (my thoughts on Katy as a role model here), so I’m not complaining.

I find it funny the way some people in the press are describing Katy. This article contends (emphasis mine), Katy Perry is wholesome enough as modern pop stars go, showing a little skin in her videos and filling hits songs like “I Kissed a Girl,” “California Gurls” and the current “Teenage Dream” with mild sexual innuendo rather than upfont crudity and profanity. But her party-girl persona – or at least her plunging neckline – is apparently too racy for “Sesame Street.”

Sorry… I have to get up off the floor. I fell off my chair laughing. Has this reporter seen Katy’s videos? I’m not sure what crudity is in his dictionary, but what do you call whipped cream cans for breasts squirting all over the place? Or the hand gesture she makes during the words “melt your popsicle” in her California Gurls video? Or, for those of you brave enough, go ahead and click on the music video for “Teenage Dream” and watch it for just 30 seconds between the 2:00 and 2:30 mark. “Mild sexual innuendo,” eh?

It’s a fact. The world’s standards are different than ours.

This interesting CBS video of The Early Show casts some light on the decision making as The Early Show anchors chat with both Elmo and Carol-Lynn Parente, executive producer of Sesame Street.

Katy responded to being “cut” by tweeting: “Wow, looks like my play date with Elmo hs been cut short! If you still wanna play see it at…”

Katy’s fiance’, actually made a funny. He tweeted, “Today’s Sesame Street will NOT be brought to you by the number 34 or the letter D.”

So Katy and Russell will not hurt at all from the publicity from this incident.

(ht to Todd)

No Media for 24 Hours

Posted on: 09/23/10 10:53 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This Saturday, September 25th, Nickelodeon goes dark for a day to encourage kids to go out and play!

(Hey, that rhymes. Will they play in the hay? How long will they stay? Until May? I digress.)

I love the idea. It reminds me of an early Simpsons episode where the power went out in Springfield. All the TV’s went dark in every household and we heard kids moan in disappointment. Then they slowly got up, opened the front door to their houses, stretched their arms, squinting in the light of the sun like someone who hasn’t seen light for weeks. Next scene we saw kids playing on playgrounds, climbing trees, making forts… Great scene.

Nick is trying to get kids to do much of this. Their Worldwide Day of Play website has all kinds of ideas of activities that kids can do for the day.

As much as I love Nick’s efforts, I don’t know how much of an impact they will make by themselves (this is their 7th year in a row doing this). I wish that they could get Cartoon Network, Disney, MTV and other channels kids frequent- all to own in on this (not that kids couldn’t just go play X-box).

Parents should use this as an opportunity to make this family-driven. Wouldn’t it be cool if families “shut off the power” and turned off all mobile devices for a day?

Last year our church had a 1 month media fast. I know… it sounds nuts. But it was truly amazing. We cut all entertainment media for 1 month. Families brought out old board games, went on walks, hikes… you name it. Our family moaned and whined the first week. But after the month was over, we talked about implementing the media fast as a regular event one day a week– Tuesdays. (It’s been pretty irregular- with homework and jobs, many nights have been without media lately).

Props to Nick!

RELATED ARTICLE: College blocks out Facebook for a week.

Running for You

Posted on: 09/21/10 9:48 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m doing it again… I’m running for you. And I could use your help.

As one of my blog subscribers, you know better than most that I love to provide youth workers and parents with truly free resources, articles and youth culture research. Well, on Saturday, October 2nd, I’m doing something to help make that happen. I’m running to keep the resources free!

Last year many of you might remember me running 10 miles for all of you in our ministry’s little fund raiser called ENDURE. This year I’m running again, and my goal is to raise $3,000 in pledges that will go directly toward the free resources we provide at The Source is a 501(c)(3), Federal Tax I.D. #47-0855213.

Here’s where you can help.

I know that there are literally tens of thousands of people that use our free resources that have no budget. We want to be able to keep providing to those people. So for those of you that have the means to help just a little, jump onto this page: and make a tax deductable donation via VISA/MC or paypal. You can make it a general donation, or you can sponsor me; either way, the money goes 100% toward the free resources we provide!

It can be $10, $25, $50, or $100. Just do whatever you feel. I’ll run the race… you run your credit card through. 🙂

If you don’t like using VISA/MC, you can simply mail your tax deductable donations to:

The Source for Youth Ministry
8863 Greenback Lane #333
Orangevale, CA 95662

(make checks out to “THE SOURCE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY”)

Pray and see what God lays on your heart to do. I sincerely thank those of you in youth ministry for doing the incredibly important work you do. You truly are the reason why we do what we do. Thanks for loving and serving millions of kids in Christ’s Name.

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Talking With Our Kids about Glee

Posted on: 09/20/10 3:02 PM | by Jonathan McKee

In January of this year, Kaiser Foundation’s “M2” Media Consumption report shocked parents when it was revealed that today’s 8-18 year-olds average 4 hours and 29 minutes of television programming each and every day. Kaiser, Nielson and others all agree, the television set still is the biggest media draw for kids, despite rumors that TV was dying.

The question is, just what are our kids watching?

If you asked a random selection of teenagers that question in the last 12 months, you’d probably hear the word “Glee” more than almost any other word. In just one year, Fox’s Glee has grown to be one of the most watched television shows by teenagers.

The Glee buzz has grown louder in the past few weeks, with the release of Season 1 on DVD and Blu-ray, and the premier for Season II this Tuesday, September 21.

So what should parents do with this show?

The short answer is: talk about it!

After weeks of researching the show and then even asking you all your two cents last week in my blog, I’ve posted my article about the show on website as this week’s Youth Culture Window article… an article titled, To Glee, or Not to Glee.”

Here’s just a snippet from the middle of the article:

 So, what content are young viewers absorbing from this show?

Glee deals with real issues that teenagers face today, showing consequences and hurt. The writers tell it like it is, warts and all. Name it: teen pregnancy, bullying, self image, and equal rights. But at the same time, the show sends mixed messages. It’s often coarse, laced with sexual humor, and preachy in support of the homosexual lifestyle. (One of the show’s writer/creators, Ryan Murphy, is gay, several of the cast members are gay, and the show has a huge LGBT following.)

Christian parents always ask me: Should I let my kids watch Glee?

Even though I could possibly offer some guidance toward the answer to that question, I hesitate to answer it because my response would negate the purpose behind it.

Allow me to explain: The answer to that question is, Parents must help their kids figure out for themselves if they should watch the show. The process itself is much more important than the answer. In other words, if I or some other author or radio personality were to simply say, “No, don’t let your kids watch it,” I’d hate to think that parents would default to just answering, “Sorry, Jonathan says ‘no,’ so that means the show is bad.”

Parenting isn’t that simple. And I don’t mean to make a cliché with that phrase. Truly, parenting is anything but simple. The fact is, most teaching opportunities take time, effort, and thought. And if parents are truly living out that Deuteronomy 6 passage (Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up… Deuteronomy 6:5-7, NIV), then we’ll be dialoging constantly with our kids about the influences around them, the temptations they face, and the decisions they make. These conversations will require a lot of guidance with younger kids, slowly leading to more freedom as they get older. After all, when they’re 18…it’s really up to them, isn’t it?

This means that my 15-year-old and 17-year-old might be able to discern right and wrong in a situation better than my 13-year-old. Last month…


Bucket Duty

Posted on: 09/17/10 8:23 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This week has personally been crazy! I’ve been on “bucket duty” all week.

No, that has nothing to do with a bucket list. It has everything to do with everyone in my house getting the flu… except me! (So far!)

My 15-year-old Alyssa got it first on Tuesday afternoon. She started feeling queazy in art class, ran outside, pulled her hair back and puked in a trashcan in front of 40 boys (so she described). She said that two of them asked her, “Are you okay.” She wiped her chin and said, “Yeah. Doing great!”

I picked her up shortly after and she began throwing chunks every 30 minutes for about 6 hours until finally the doctor gave her something to stop heaving (long story, but we actually were going to the doctor anyway because she fractured one of her fingers at water polo practice the day before). While I was at the doctor with her, Lori called and said that Alec, my 17-year-old had puked at work and was coming home.

At this moment Lori and I were silent for a moment. A cloud of fear drifted over our heads– we both knew, this thing is making its way around the family! We began pondering, what did they eat? What did we eat? Did I share a glass with them last night? (you know… many of you have probably been there)

Alec began the process of hurling groceries for the next few hours. Lori, Ashley- my youngest- and I looked at each other in fear. We knew it was probably coming.

Wednesday morning Ash woke up fine and went to school. At noon I got a text, “Dad, I’m in the bathroom at school… come get me.” Two hours later she was in our bathroom ralphing… and a few other bonus symptoms that I won’t go into! Meanwhile Lori started moaning and grabbing her stomach. By 4PM I was the only one serving all four.

Bucket duty!

The house was a wreck. I was trying to do everything Lori normally does (props to her), everything I do, and bucket duty. Truly crazy.

Funny though– when the hurling stopped and everyone was just lying in a slump, we actually had some laughs. At least we were going through it together as a family. It was an adventure… of sorts. I was thankful I wasn’t out of town and that I work at home so I could be there to help.

The good news: it was a 24 hour thing. Alec and Alyssa were functioning at 80% by Wednesday night and went to school Thursday. Then Ashley and Lori were at 70 to 80% by Thursday night, and Ash is back to school today. They’ve all had it… except me!

And so I wait…

Your Thoughts on Glee

Posted on: 09/15/10 9:09 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m working on an article and I’d like your help. I want your two cents about Foxes hit show, Glee.

Since I’d love your comments, I’ll go ahead and make this a contest. Rather than doing the typical “first 10 comments,” etc… I’d like to keep the comments flowing. So here’s the skinny. Make a comment to this blog entry in the next 48 hours. I’ll randomly choose from the helpful comments, drawing 10 winners.

Here’s what I want to know:

Glee is one of the most Emmy-nominated shows on network television (19 Emmy nominations, more than any other show). Season 1 went on sale yesterday and Season 2 is just around the corner (September 21). A ton of our kids are watching it, many obsessing over it.

Add to that… it’s brilliantly executed. The musical numbers are amazing– after the show airs, the songs go on sale on iTunes and are catapulted to the top 10. There’s more talent on this cast than almost any year of American Idol’s top 10. The show isn’t cheesy.

The show deals with issues, showing consequences and hurt. Name it: teen pregnancy, bullying, self image, equal rights… but at the same time, the show sends mixed messages. It’s often course, laced with sexual humor and is very preachy about the homosexual lifestyle (the show has a huge LGBT following).

Christian parents always ask me: Should I let my kids watch it?

I want your answers! (and please include in your comments if you’ve seen the show. You can watch full episodes on

Use the comments and let me know. I’ll send 10 of you a copy of my first book, The Top 12 Resources Youth Workers Want. If you already have the book… still comment. I’d love your thoughts!

The Pop Culture Porthole… the MTV VMAs

Posted on: 09/13/10 11:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last night in the world of pop culture, all eyes were on the MTV VMA’s.

All eyes? Okay… maybe not “all.” Let’s put some numbers to it. In 2009, 26.9 million viewers watched the show on the night it aired (a record-breaking 9 million people watched it on MTV alone, but if you look at the total viewership of all three channels that aired the show, you’ll find a number closer to 27 million. More on that breakdown here). And that doesn’t include the 5.5 million people that visited the next day to watch the show online. Neilson reported that the VMA show was the #1 viewed cable show of the entire year among people age 12-34.

How about them apples.

So allow me to rephrase. Last night, “numerous” eyes were on the VMAs. I have yet to see this year’s numbers. But most people had two questions on their mind: What will happen between Taylor Swift and Kanye? And how many awards will Lady Gaga actually take home?

Personally, I only had one question: who freaking cares!

Unfortunately, most teenagers do.

The MTV VMA’s show is an interesting phenomena. Youth Culture guru Walt Mueller refers to it as a “map and a mirror.” A show this popular with young people not only reveals to us the direction that youth culture is going (map), but it also provides a glimpse of what youth culture looks like right now (mirror).

Every year I encourage parents and youth workers to take a peek at this show to get their thumb on the pulse of youth culture. This year… adults probably fell asleep watching the show. I know I almost did.

I asked my wife Lori, “Is it just me, or is this show really boring?”

She answered, “Well, we are getting old. Maybe we relate to this stuff less and less.”

Nice. I’m old!

Thanks Lori!  🙂

In retrospect, I think I’d settle for boring more than the excitement that usually plagues this show. Because the buzz-worthy moments that MTV usually creates are either crude or overtly sexual.

This year wasn’t tame, by any means. The host, Chelsea Handler, was as lewd as expected, Gaga was bizarre and preachy (particularly about homosexuality), and the commercials (particularly the ones for “Gucci Guilty” and the new MTV show “The Challenge” ) were over the top. Typical of MTV to use sex to sell. (I guess the MTV execs didn’t listen to the American Academy of Pediatrics plea for responsible programming in their brand new report last week, “Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media.”)

You can read my entire two cents about the VMA’s later this afternoon (Monday) when we post our Youth Culture Window article on the subject.