Ashley’s Attitude

Posted on: 12/31/10 1:48 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Of my three kids, Ashley (my 13-year-old) is the one that has turned out the most like me. She’s actually a very good kid compared to what I was at her age, but she reeks of my adolescent attitude and sarcasm.

I have to share you an “essay” I made her write when I busted her on Christmas Eve. I don’t need to tell you many of the details– Ashley provides all of them in her paper (dripping with sarcasm!) The skinny of the situation was, she didn’t want to dress up for the Christmas Eve service, and we told her to. She ended up getting assigned “a chore” (when my kids smart-off or argue, I assign them an extra “chore” as punishment), and eventually the ultimate bad punishment in my house– having to write a paper. When my kids get in big trouble, I assign them an essay. (I’m a slave-driver!)

Here’s Ashley’s paper. She opted to write it as a fictional narrative. I think it pretty well sums it all up.

“Abbey, go put on your dress for the service.” Mrs. Flop yelled.
“Okay mom!” Abbey replied.
She began to pull on her ugly sweater-dress and black tights. She hated having to dress up. When she was finished, Abbey walked downstairs.
“Oh Abbey, you look just gorgeous!” her mom exclaimed.
“Gee, thanks.” Abbey sarcastically replied, staring at her uncomfortable and ugly outfit in the mirror.
“And don’t forget, you can’t take it off at all, even when you get home from the service. I want you to look nice on Christmas!” her mom said.
“What?!” Abbey yelled, “This is the most uncomfortable, ugly, stupid outfit in the world!”
Abbey’s dad poked his head in the room and said, “That’s a chore young lady!”
Abbey wanted to scream. Never before had her parents made her do this. It was so dumb.
Just then, Abbey’s brother Alex strutted in the door wearing jeans, a long-sleeved shirt, and converse; an outfit that he wore to school all the time. “Oh Alex, you look handsome!” her parents said.
“Oh my gosh!” Abbey yelled, “Why does he get to wear that?”
Abbey’s dad turned his head toward her, “Not another word from you! And that’s another chore!” Abbey walked upstairs to her room and closed the door. (Ashley emphasized closed in bold and underline)
“Abby. Come downstairs right now! Her dad yelled “You are going to write a paper on your attitude!” I’ve told you a million times not to slam your door!”
Abbey exclaimed, “But I didn’t even slam my door!”
“Yes, you did. Now go write that paper!” he retorted quickly.
Abbey marched into her room and closed her door silently.
Was Abbey right for mouthing off to her parents? Of course not: she should have respectfully argued with her mom about why she really didn’t want to have to wear that uncomfortable outfit all night long. Around Christmas time (actually, all the time), children like Abbey should not be mad at their parents for making them wear their outfits all right; no matter how uncomfortable they are. Children need to remember that dressing up is a way of respecting Jesus. And around Christmas, respecting and rejoicing in the birth of their Lord and savior. Also, kids need to respect their parent’s decisions because they are in charge and they know what is best for them. So no matter how frustrated Abbey was, she should have respected her parents and been a loving and good child.


Yes… Ashley would agree that my upcoming parenting book is appropriately titled, “Candid Confessions of an IMPERFECT Parent.”

Focused on the Important This Christmas

Posted on: 12/23/10 1:44 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week one of our “The Source for Youth Ministry” board members, John, and his wife Heather were hit by a drunk driver on the way home from a church dinner.

By God’s grace, both of them walked away from the accident… with a huge change of perspective!

Americans sometimes are distracted by materialism, especially during the holiday season. Events like this tend to wake us up to what’s really important in life. Here’s the email my friend John sent out the night of the accident- some great words of wisdom:  (emphasis mine)

Last night on the way home from the (church) dinner Heather and were hit by a drunk driver. We were traveling west on Douglas Blvd towards home in my GMC Denali when I noticed in the rearview mirror a car approaching from behind very fast. I had just enough time to shout out to Heather that we were going to get hit right before the impact. The rear end impact was pretty violent and it put us into a spin pushing us over the curb and into the landscape/sidewalk. As we were spinning we struck a tree on the right front, deploying the air bags. Miraculously, we threaded and bounced through 5 other trees narrowly missing any broadside impacts, coming to rest backwards against the residential block sound wall. The truck is totaled but we were spared, praise God! 

The CHP officer and a witness both estimated the speed of the car that hit us to be 90-100 MPH. The only skid marks at the accident were from our truck so we received the full impact of his speed. After impact, he bounced off us and went into the center median and struck a pine tree across the road. He stumbled across the street after the accident totally oblivious to us, I’m not sure if he knew he hit us. CHP confirmed he was very drunk, he was taken to the hospital and then most likely to jail. We were well taken care of.   The first fireman on the scene was an old friend from (our church), our insurance agent and good friend Jeff came to the site with a jacket for Heather, we were on the phone with our pastor Ray within a few minutes of the accident and our Men’s pastor Greg came to check on us and give us a ride home!
We are both doing well today other than having soreness in our necks from the whiplash. Obviously we are very thankful for God’s provision of safety, I guess He decided that our work here isn’t finished. This is the first time I’ve been involved in an accident of this nature and it’s interesting to me how these things can be confusing and clarifying at the same time. Confusing in that we will always wonder why things like this happen, and there will be ramifications from this that we’ll have to deal with that don’t make sense. But more importantly, these types of experiences provide clarity about what is really important in life and who is in control. Our immediate reaction after the accident wasn’t to check the car for damage, but rather to get out of the car and hug each other, tears of joy and thankfulness to our God for sparing us from injury. Our minds jumped right to the “what if” scenarios. What if we had hit that tree? What if the kids had been in the car? What if we’d been in a smaller car? In the initial moments, and upon reflection today, we are reminded of how fragile life is and how quickly circumstances in life can change. Because of this experience, today my thoughts have been focused on the love of my God, my wife, my family and my friends. Is there anything more important? My prayer is that I won’t lose this perspective and that my life won’t be the same. I’m grateful to God for this gentle reminder of HIs love, and the love we share through the common bond of our Savior Jesus Christ.
I hear John loud and clear. Earlier this year I received a phone call from my wife that she and my daughter Ashley had just been in an accident (I tell that story here). These moments remind us of the important things in life: our relationship with God and our relationship with others.
I pray that you all experience some great time with family and with God your Father this Christmas season.
Merry Christmas!

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The Ultimate Youth Pastor

Posted on: 12/20/10 12:57 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… this is funny.

I heard some youth workers talking about this video in my last training workshop- Ignatius the Ultimate Youth Pastor. I hadn’t seen it. I don’t know how I missed this one.


I’m not even going to say anything else… you just gotta see it. It takes about a minute before it really grabs ya. I actuallly watched the entire thing. (I was thinking, “Oh, I’ll just watch a minute or so.” But then I couldn’t turn it off. It just kept me drawn in.)

CLICK HERE if you don’t see the embedded video.

So sad… it’s only funny because we’ve SEEN THIS BEFORE!!!

(I think my favorite was when he shook his head during the worship)

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Using Music as a Springboard for Conversation

Posted on: 12/15/10 12:33 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Music is on my mind. I’ve been writing about it, and we’ve just launched a few new/revamped free Music Discussions on our two websites (more on that in a minute)… so today my foot is tapping!

Much of youth culture is centered around music. Today’s young people seem to require speakers blasting or small white headphones plugged into their ears. In the last 5 years, they’ve upped their daily intake of music by 47 minutes per day, to an average of 2 hours and 19 minutes a day (KFF, 2010). Music rules. That’s why adults should consider using music as a springboard for conversation.

Today David R. Smith and I are finishing the draft of our final Youth Culture Window article of 2010 (It’s now up- CLICK HERE), a glimpse at the #1 music hits of 2010 (We’ll post the article this Sunday). We’re reviewing every single song that made #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, a great list that blends the popularity of radioplay, downloads, actual CD sales, etc. It is a great place to look when you want to know what’s truly the #1 hit in America at any time (I always look there, and at iTunes. The two are usually pretty close).

It’s interesting to look back at the content of the #1’s from the past year. Emenim, B.o.B, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Kesha… quite a variety really. Some of it pure garbage, some tasteful romantic tunes, and a few intellectually stimulating pieces.

Some of this music can serve as truly effective discussion jumpstarters with our kids.

Take a peek at two resources, one totally revamped, and one brand new . They are our MUSIC DISCUSSIONS pages on both and our brand new

Many of you have already seen our Music Discussions page on Take a peek today. It just got much better. Each discussion offers the ability to comment and rate. And now you can organize the discussions by Title, Category, Artist, or User’s Rating. Check it out, rate them and post a comment.

Our Music Discussions page on offer the same features, but are totally different discussions- designed specifically for parents. They are short discussions with three “quick q’s” that parents can ask their kids about a song. But then we offer a section called “For Deeper Discussion” if parents want to take it a little further. Take a peek, rate them, and/or post a comment.

You’ll see numerous new discussions on each page. I pray that they catalyst some great conversations with your kids!

Developing Spiritual Growth in Teenagers

Posted on: 12/13/10 3:30 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week my friend Tim Schmoyer (Most of you know him from his web site was visiting Sacramento and we connected for breakfast, chatting about discipleship, student leadership and the general direction youth ministry is heading. Good times!

Afterwards, he shot a quick little video with me for his website– a chance to chat just a bit about creating opportunities for students to serve in our ministry, and he gave a rather obnoxious plug for my brand new book, “Ministry by Students” … fun stuff.

Take a peek here.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Posted on: 12/10/10 2:08 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week my family got a chance to screen the new Narnia film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Even though I hadn’t posted my official review yet, I blogged, sharing my two cents on the film.

Yesterday we posted our official review here on our Movie Reviews & Quick Q’s page. We also provided you with some discussion questions to dialogue with your kids about the film.

Todd and I were split on this movie. Todd calls it :Theatre Worthy.” I call it merely a “Rental.” I’ll let you read our thoughts and decide for yourselves.

Feel free to post your comments when you see it. I’m curious who you agree with more… me, or Todd.  🙂

Justin Bieber’s “Pray”

Posted on: 12/9/10 12:01 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Have you seen what video just moved up to the #1 downloaded video on iTunes?

It’s a song called “Pray” from Justin Bieber.

Here’s a snippet of the lyrics.

Children are crying.
Soldiers are dying
Some people don’t have a home
But I know there’s sunshine behind that rain
I know there’s good times behind that pain, hey
Can you tell me how I can make a change
I close my eyes and I can see a better day
I close my eyes and pray

The video gives a glimpse of soldiers with their families, homeless people, and poor children on the street– all this mixed with shots of Justin interacting with needy people… and him praying. You can take a peek at it here.

I have two reactions to this video, and the fact that it’s at the top of the iTunes chart:

1. Excitement. The number one spot in the video charts aren’t often held by a clean video. Look at other videos that hit #1 this year: Teenage Dream, OMG, Like a G6… the list goes on (David and I are actually writing a Youth Culture Window article right now reviewing all the #1 songs of the year). Bieber’s “Pray” is not only a nice break from the typical racy content of #1, it’s wholesome and uplifting. Thanks Justin, truly.

2. Hesitation. Yes, I’m always a little scared when celebs speak out about prayer and their faith, simply because so many of these celebs turn around a month or two later and live out the exact opposite. Most followers of Christ probably feel a little bit burned and hurt by the “Gospel according to Hollywood.” But I’m not going to throw stones at Justin in any way here. I don’t know him at all, and I haven’t seen put out anything really racy. Let’s just say… I’m holding my breath. (…and just closing my eyes to pray!)

The video ends with these words… some great advice to us all:

God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer.

It’s Finally Here!

Posted on: 12/7/10 10:55 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Many of you have been asking when my new book, MINISTRY BY STUDENTS will be available– the book about developing spiritual growth in teenagers, and building into student leaders… it’s been a long time coming.

It just came in today!

Grab it from us here on our website… no one else has it in stock yet (authors always get it first!)

Those of you who have read my CONNECT book saw the importance of not just reaching kids for Christ, but helping them grow spiritually. This new book will help us focus on those “right column” kids that we identified in CONNECT.

We packed the book with ideas, advice and resources for:
•    fostering discipleship
•    building student leadership teams
•    identifying student talent
•    helping students discover and use their spiritual gifts
•    creating service teams
•    equipping students to reach their friends

Plus, my good friend David R. Smith (who most of you recognize as the author of so many of our Youth Culture Window articles) partnered with me on this book. He brings a lot of wisdom and experience to the table. Fun stuff! I’m really excited about this book!


Linus Reads Luke 2 This Week

Posted on: 12/6/10 10:02 AM | by Jonathan McKee

In a world where Christ is slowly disappearing from Christmas, we still are going to hear Luke 2 read on network television this week on Tuesday night… by a kid who still drags around his blanky.

Blog reader Adam reminded me that the Charlie Brown Christmas is on this week on ABC. For me the show is not only good wholesome entertainment, it’s nostalgic. This Christmas special is part of Christmas. Many of us grew up with it.

For those who were raised in a cave and haven’t seen this special, Peanuts character Linus actually reads Luke chapter 2. Powerful stuff!

It’s funny… the special was supposed to be on right after thanksgiving but got bumped by an important presidential announcement about Afganistan. So pray that it doesn’t get bumped again!

Tune in to ABC Tuesday night to see it.

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Screening the New Narnia Film

Posted on: 12/3/10 7:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last night I got a chance to bring my family to a press screening of the new Narnia film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, coming to theatres December 10th.

They loved it! The theatre loved it. My friend and fellow movie reviewer Todd loved it…

I, on the other hand, thought it was very mediocre.

I have to save my official review until we post our review on the release date (Todd and I will be chiming in together for this one), but I’ll do two things:

1. I’ll post the trailer here so you can get a taste. It’s definitely worth bringing the family to.

2. Allow me to share a few quick thoughts, good and bad, without giving anything away:


  • Reepicheep (voiced by the hilarious Simon Pegg) was awesome once again. By far the best character in the film!
  • Kids in the theatre loved the film. They were laughing throughout.
  • Narnia fans will once again love seeing this beloved story transformed to the silver screen.
  • The movie offered several great scenes for discussion– a scene where Lucy struggles with self esteem, one where Eustace struggles with greed, and a moving moment where Reepicheep cheers up Eustace. We’ll be posting some great discussion questions for you when we post the official review, like we’ve been doing with all the films on our MOVIE REVIEWS & QUICK Q’s page on both and
  • Note: Interlinc also has a free 16 page “Behind the Scenes Youthworker Guide” (PDF) for the film that they’re giving away to anyone who fills out their form, providing them with all your info. 


  • Our screening was in 3D. If there is any way you can avoid that, AVOID IT! This whole 3D trend is annoying. This movie was obviously not made for 3D! The 3D did not help it in any way– it just made the visuals look worse.
  • The film makers completely changed my favorite scene in the book (saving any spoilers, I’ll describe it like this- Aslan helping Eustace out of his “predicament”). Sooooooo disappointing.
  • The overall delivery and effects were about as “fair” as the past films… in other words… this is no Lord of the Rings… which is a shame, because the original story is so strong!

Audiences will enjoy the film despite my small criticisms and adults will have some great springboards for discussion with kids as they exit the movie.