A Click Away on iTunes Top 10

Posted on: 01/31/12 5:14 PM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s amazing what you can learn about youth culture today from iTunes. That’s what I did for this audience of parents and teenagers. I basically opened up iTunes and gave parents a quick tour of the top songs and music videos of the day. The results were a little sobering, funny, sad… and… well… what do you think?


Hurting Our Teenagers’ Feelings

Posted on: 01/30/12 4:47 PM | by Jonathan McKee

“Watch what you say about the mistakes that I’ve made, because you sometimes hurt my feelings.”

That’s what Kerri, a teenager from Tennessee shared with us in the brand new episode we just posted on our new YouTube series for parents called R U Listening. Most of you have already been to our R U Listening YouTube page and/or Facebook page. In short, R U Listening is a place where parents can hear the felt needs of kids today and be encouraged with how to respond appropriately.

In this new episode where Kerri shared her heart, my friend, author/speaker, David R. Smith responded with some really practical feedback. Here’s just a snippet:

Kids are going to make mistakes.

Somebody, somewhere, just said, “duh.” But hear me out. If we truly believe that to be the understatement of the century, then why don’t we as parents proactively fashion some tactful ways of handling the situations that are coming down the pipe? You see, if we do that, we don’t have to shoot from the hip. We don’t have to speak on the fly…

David goes on to offer some advice to prevent hurting our kids’ feelings during those tough moments when our kids mess up.

I encourage you to check out the entire 3 minute video here.

Super Bowl Parties

Posted on: 01/29/12 7:04 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Next Sunday is a big day in America—it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Churches and ministries have historically used this day for parties and outreach events. The question is… are we allowed to? (and… am I providing my annual “Big Game Quiz” for you like every year?)

Allowed to? I know, that almost sounds laughable. Since when did the “fun police” start breaking up Super Bowl parties? Actually, about 5 years ago! In 2007 the NFL cracked the whip on several churches showing the game on the big screen. Then in 2008, a “screen size limit” was mandated. Churches couldn’t show it on a screen over 55 inches. In 2009 they lifted the screen size limit.

Things have calmed down a bit. But people still have questions about what is and isn’t allowed:

  1. Can you charge admission?
  2. Can you invited as many people as you want?
  3. Can you call it a Super Bowl party?
  4. Can you bring your grandma?
  5. Can you eat over 50 chicken wings without getting a stomachache?

The following little YouTube video from ChurchLaw answers most of those questions (unfortunately they don’t answer #4 or #5).

So as you can see, you can have a “Big Game” party. So yes… I’m providing our annual free “Big Game” Quiz, a fun little contest you can use to liven up your party. Click here for this free resource. (We had originally made a mistake on question #7… all fixed now!)

What about you? What are you planning for “The Big Game” this year?

Topography of Faith

Posted on: 01/26/12 5:29 PM | by Jonathan McKee

The subject of evangelism has been on my mind a lot this week and I’ve been playing with a lot of fun resources… you’ll like this one. It’s an interactive map.

You see, I’m always curious when I see studies about religious affiliation– what people believe, where they go to church, etc. Of course, what people say and do are sometimes two different things. When I worked with unchurched kids on a junior high and high school campus, I interacted daily with kids who had only been to church maybe once or twice in their entire lives. Funny… if you asked these kids about church, most said, “Oh, I go to that white church down the street.” They saw that church as “their church” because they’d been their once, or their grandma went there. Religion was more of a “heritage” to most of these teenagers.

I wrote quite a bit about this mindset in my book about reaching out to unchurched kids, DO THEY RUN WHEN THEY SEE YOU COMING? I’ve been looking at that book quite a bit lately because YS/Zondervan has an edit crew putting the final touches on my evangelism training DVD curriculum for students based off that book, titled, REAL CONVERSATIONS: Sharing Your Faith Without Being Pushy.

So this week I’ve been looking through a bunch of cool evangelism resources and studies about the attitudes and belief systems of Americans today. including this cool little interactive map of the U.S. that reveals the “faith breakdown”of each state. This map is based off of Pew‘s most recent study (2008). It’s still pretty accurate, although I’m guessing that next time we’ll see that the “unaffiliated” group has been growing. (Is it just me, or have you noticed more and more “Co-exist” bumper stickers? I guess Christianity is just way too “narrow.”)


Amazing Video

Posted on: 01/25/12 2:54 PM | by Jonathan McKee

There are funny YouTube videos… and there are visually amazing YouTube videos. This visually compelling video falls in the latter category. This little montage of surfing, skydiving, skiing, cliffjumping… and so much more, is as entertaining as it is visually stimulating, all packed into less than 3 minutes.

I’ve been seeing quite a few of these forwarded around the last few weeks, this is one of the better ones (Like the fun “driving video” I blogged about last week, this is also perfect as a “pre-show” video).

If you don’t see the embedded video, just view it on my blog.

Do Sexy Super Bowl Ads Sell?

Posted on: 01/24/12 4:06 PM | by Jonathan McKee

While I was traveling this past weekend, we noticed an interesting article in USA Today about racy Super Bowl ads. The online article features a video interview of Bob Parsons, founder of GoDaddy.com, known for the success of his sexy ads. The video also interviews GoDaddy Girl and famous race car driver Danica Patrick. Both are asked, “Does sex sell?”

Both say… yes.

Parsons readily admits that when they decided to do a Super Bowl ad in 2005, they were a company that nobody heard of, selling a product difficult to articulate… especially to people that might be slightly intoxicated at a Super Bowl party.  “But,” Parsons explains, “what we could get across was the GoDaddy.com name.”

He goes on to explain how it worked for them in 2005.

“I thought the best way to do that was… most of the viewers were males… we’d have a very well endowed female. We’d certainly have our name across her well-endowment. And our ad had to be polarizing, and it was. Our market share before that ad was 16%. The following week it was 25% worldwide. I would say it worked!”

The math doesn’t lie. Neither do the GoDaddy girls.

“If you’re asking me the question, Does sex sell?” says GoDaddy girl Danica Patrick. “Yes is the answer”

But the USA Today article offers an opposing point of view, a report from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, who have been analyzing these types of ads during the Super Bowl for the last two decades. They contend that spots with sexual imagery take a 10% hit in “likeability.”

I don’t want to be a skeptic, but… really?

Apparently they neglected to look at GoDaddy’s year-end financial statement.

Who do you believe? Do you think sex sells? When you look at the content in the top songs and TV shows today, what do you see? Sure, you’ll find some good content, Adele, etc. But are the sexy artists taking hits in popularity?

What about the rise in Internet porn? 25% of all search engine requests are pornography related. 35% of all internet downloads are pornographic. Are these sites taking any hits in likability?

What examples do you see of sex selling?

What examples do you see of sex repelling instead of selling?

Should We Read Our Kids’ Texts?

Posted on: 01/23/12 12:26 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last night my 16-year-old daughter Alyssa was sitting in my Parenting the Texting Generation workshop in Southern California (we used the weekend as an opportunity to look at some colleges for her). After the workshop she was talking openly with a handful of us about the guidelines Lori and I set for her and her sister, and she shared, “I agree with all my parents’ guidelines except the one about them being able to read my texts at any time. I’m not gonna do that one with my kids when I’m a parent.”

I had never heard this objection from Alyssa before. Surprised, I asked her, “Oh really? Why wouldn’t you read your own kids texts?

She said, “Because that’s just wrong.”

Alyssa has never been one to mince words.

I chuckled and filed the conversation for later, but I was intrigued. This was one of those rules that we rarely enforced. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. The rule states that we have the right to look at texts at any time, and that right was definitely enforced—we did exercise the ability to do that at any time. We just haven’t done it very often. I’ve probably looked at Alyssa’s texts once this entire year (and it actually resulted in a pretty good conversation).

So why did this particular rule irk Alyssa?

This was just one of the guidelines that we had come up with as a family. In the workshop I had encouraged parents to not only build relationships with their kids, but also build lasting values. After talking a little about setting some fair boundaries, I gave the group some examples of some guidelines that we have in our house. I told them, “These aren’t necessarily guidelines that every parent needs to set, but these are some guidelines that have really helped our kids.” Guidelines like, we talk about every song we buy.

Reflecting on my list, Alyssa didn’t mind the music guidelines, just this texting one: Parents can read their kids texts at any time. Kids need to ask permission to delete their texts.

This morning I revisited the conversation. “Alyssa, I’d like to hear more about your objecting to the ‘I can look at your texts at any time’ rule. Why do you not like that rule?”

Without hesitation she responded, “Because if you trust your kids, then why do you need to look at their texts?”

Alyssa has a point. I look at parenting as a giant segue from a high degree of control when our kids are young, to a complete release of control when they are 18 and out on their own, free to make decisions for themselves. This requires parents to continually extend more trust to their kids, especially as they are 16 and 17. After all, in just a year or two they can do whatever they want, right? Might as well let them start to make some of these decisions under your shadow, stumbling while you are still there to pick them up? No, I’m not saying let your daughter drink alcohol and allow your son’s girlfriend to spend the night. But we probably should lighten up on media guidelines, for example, as they grow closer to 18. Keep talking about these choices, but then let our kids make the final choice.

And that’s where I’m at with Alyssa. At 16-and-a-half, Alyssa is really starting to earn trust with us. So I have to ask myself, is she right? Should I back off on this texting rule now?

What about her sister? Does a 14-year-old still need this rule?

When I asked Alyssa that question, she said, “It depends on if your kid has been trustworthy in other areas. If they’re trustworthy, then don’t check their texts.”

I finally asked her. “You don’t object to our other rules… why this one? Why does this one bug you so much?”

“Because texting is really personal.” Alyssa explained. “Sometimes my friend Ali and I will start sharing deep stuff from our hearts and then one of us will finally type, let’s talk about this later, my parents read my texts.

I laughed. “Wow. Ya wouldn’t want those terrible ogres reading your texts!”

“It’s not that,” Alyssa clarified, “It’s just that sometimes we like to share some deep stuff with each other, and we don’t want each other’s parents reading that stuff.”

I told her that I thought that was a really good point, something I’d have to think about.

She gave me permission to blog about the conversation and dialogue with all of you about it. I’ll wait to hear what you think about the subject and then I’ll comment below in a day or so and tell you where I fall on this rule for both Alyssa and Ashley.

So what about you? Do you think parents should check their kids’ texts? At what age do you stop? Is Alyssa right—does this all depend on the level of trust that individual kid has earned?



Nerd Fun

Posted on: 01/22/12 6:07 PM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s been a crazy weekend of travel, looking at colleges with Lori and Alyssa (Shout out to Azusa and Cal Baptist) and speaking at NorthPark Community Church (they’ve posted my talk on their website). As soon as I’m done teaching this parenting workshop, we’re going to go ahead and drive home tonight (because Alyssa has school tomorrow morning), probably arriving in at 3AM. So let me just quickly leave you with a little movie nerd fun, a cool pic I found on Alyssa’s Pinterest page. Classic!

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Parenting the Texting Generation, in SoCal

Posted on: 01/18/12 6:06 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This Weekend I’m driving down to Southern California (SoCal) to preach at NorthPark Community Church and then teach my Parenting the Texting Generation workshop that evening (after the playoff games).

I spend a good chunk of that workshop giving parents a peek into the attitudes and trends of youth culture today. As I was doing some research this last week I fell across some interesting finds. Here’s just a few interesting tidbits from youth culture:

  1. Rihanna’s song We Found Love is still #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. This song has basically dominated the chart since November 6th of last year, with only a brief hiatus at #2 when Sexy and I Know It hit #1 for a short stint. I’ve written enough about Rihanna’s song before… no need to repeat. But it’s interesting how long it’s hung on.
  2. Sexy and I Know It is still the #1 downloaded video on iTunes, a reign that has lasted since shortly around Halloween of last year. If you haven’t seen this video, you might want to find out what it’s about, because most teenagers have seen it by now.
  3. As ubiquitous as Facebook is, teenagers still love “face to face” time with the people they care about. Funny, connecting with teenagers one-on-one is something so relevant to both youth and parenting ministry (that’s probably why parents and youth workers both buy my book, Connect).
  4. More and more experts are cautioning parents to limit their kids “media diet.”
  5. America still consumes more traditional television than any other media.
  6. Parents aren’t always the best role models for their kids.

I really love doing these parenting workshops and am looking forward to my time with parents this Sunday night. It’s always fun to provide a glimpse into that window of youth culture, and then give parents some tools to connect with their kids and build lasting values.

If you’re in driving distance of Magic Mountain (yeah, the church is right near there), then come and join us 7PM that night. Here are the details.

For the rest of you, I might be in your city soon. Here’s where I’m coming in the next few months:

January 22, 2012 (Valencia, CA)
Preach, Parent Workshop, NorthPark Community Church

February 12, 2012 (Hartland, WI)
Parent Workshop, Westbrook Church

March 4, 2012 (Fergus Falls, MN)
Preach, Parent Workshop, First Church of the Nazarene

March 25, 2012 (Wyandotte, MI)
Preach, Parent Workshop, First Baptist Church

April 1, 2012 (Ainsworth, NE)
Preach, Parent Workshop, Ainsworth Evangelical Free Church

April 22, 2012 (Fresno, CA)
Preach, Parent Workshop, First Presbyterian Church of Fresno

CLICK HERE if I’m not coming near you and you’d be interested in booking me for a workshop

Your Driver Has Arrived

Posted on: 01/17/12 4:32 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Do you think you’ve got driving skills? I did… until I saw this video!

This is an incredibly entertaining YouTube video. I’ve always got my eyes out for fun YouTube videos for two reasons:

  1. Teenagers today love YouTube videos and are always passing them around to each other. It’s a connection point with teenagers. “Check out this video!” I do the same with my own kids.
  2. I’m always on the lookout for good videos to play as kids are walking in events or programs. I spend quite a bit of time in my Getting Students to Show Up book talking about the “pre-show.” Many of these high res YouTube videos serve as great visual filler!

This video embedded below is one of the amazing videos following the driving antics of Ken Block, a professional rally driver who will make your jaw literally drop.

As a movie buff, I always love a good car chase. Steve McQueen’s 1968 film Bullitt was probably the first movie to create buzz with the car chase alone. After that, films like The French Connection, and To Live and Die in L.A. began to try to push the envelope for how long a car chase could monopolize screen time. Now driving films are commonplace, with films like The Transporter, Part I, II, and III (only the first one is worth watching) and most recently, 2011’s pretty graphic movie, Driver, starring Ryan Gosling.

All that being said… I don’t think any of those chase scenes touch Ken’s YouTube videos. Ken’s videos trump them all!

There. I said it. Watch and see.

If you can’t see the embedded video, here’s the link.

You’ll find some other amazing videos from him, like this one around the port of Los Angeles (start around the 1 minute mark).