Since Sex is a Reality in College…

Posted on: 06/28/12 10:45 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last month I attended too many graduation parties to count, high school seniors from our church saying goodbye to high school and hello to college. I wonder if their parents know what’s in store for them at Freshman orientation? The video, a YouTube video I tweeted about early this week, below provides an eye-opening glimpse.

I always find the discussion interesting comparing Christian colleges to secular universities. I’ve seen plenty of Christian kids go off to secular schools and live out their faith like “Daniel,” resolving not to get caught up in the culture. But are all our high school grads equipped for what they’ll hear?

Take the subject of sexual activity. The CDC just reported that 63.1% of high school seniors have already had sex by the time they walk across the stage and collect their diploma. In college, the pressure is on. If you aren’t having sex… you’re in the minority. Add drinking into the mix, and sex turns into sexual victimization (don’t believe me, check out this Rutgers study that I blogged about a little while back).

So what’s the world’s answer to this? Well.. check out this video, filmed by a student at a recent freshman orientation at a college. (Oh yeah… this isn’t a secular university)

What’s your reaction to this?

The Messy Morality of Stripping

Posted on: 06/26/12 11:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

He’s a stripper, but he’s a good stripper, so that’s okay. Actually, all these strippers are stripping for a cause. That’s good… right?

Pardon my alliteration, but teaching truth to today’s teenagers tends to be tricky! If young people are shaping their morality from the media… we’re all in big trouble. Let’s face it: the world’s standards aren’t good; but they aren’t all bad either. For a lack of a better term… they’re messy. And when young people soak in an average of 7.5 hours a day of entertainment media, that makes you wonder what kind of morality they’re developing.

Look at the messy morality surrounding the new movie Magic Mike coming out this Friday, June 29th, a film loosely based on actor Channing Tatum’s former life as a 19-year-old stripper in Florida. The movie has been promoted heavily by MTV, the hub of youth culture. They’re promoting it with the following description: “A male stripper (Channing Tatum) takes a newcomer (Alex Pettyfer) under his wing and instructs him in the fine arts of partying, picking up women, and making plenty of money.”
Continue reading “The Messy Morality of Stripping”

Top 10 Reasons Why Growing Up in the 80’s Ruled!

Posted on: 06/24/12 9:24 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Ever just feel like ranting? I’m in a ranting mood. And as a child of the 80’s (well… that’s when I was a teenager anyway), I miss those good ol’ days.

So here’s my top 10 list of why it was waaaaaaaaaaaaay better growing up in the 80’s!

10. Every morning I got up, opened the paper to the comics, and read a Far Side Tale.

9. I could go to a video arcade and play Mrs. Pac Man, Frogger, and Donkey Kong. What the heck is there now!!

8. Movies were $4.50

7. I had 4 TV channels, and there was way more on! (The Incredible Hulk, The Greatest American Hero, The A-Team, Magnum P.I., Remington Steele, The Fall Guy and The Cosby Show… need I go on?)

6. I walked home from school… and no one thought it was unsafe!

Continue reading “Top 10 Reasons Why Growing Up in the 80’s Ruled!”

Easily Entertained

Posted on: 06/21/12 11:34 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… I admit it, I’m easily entertained.

My son Alec was sitting in his room watching YouTube videos the other day, which catalysted a conversation between us where we were each sharing our favorites. Indeed, too many to list. But Alec was shocked that I had never seen this one.

That little girl’s facial expressions are truly intriguing. I can’t even put it to words.

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Daddy… Notice Me

Posted on: 06/20/12 1:10 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last Sunday, on Father’s Day, I preached 4 services at a local church here in the Sacramento area. I gave a new talk for dads titled, “Daddy… Notice Me.”

My typical routine is to manuscript the entire talk, but then learn it well enough to do it extemporaneously without notes. That’s what I did on Sunday. Here’s a peek at the beginning of my manuscript, for those who are interested, and then a link to the audio on the church’s site if you wanna hear the talk online.

Daddy…Notice Me

It was about 7:25 AM on a Wednesday morning last January, and I said the coldest meanest cruelest thing you could say to a teenage girl. I said…

“Where is your coat?”

Yes. Those were my cruel words. That was my heinous crime. It’s 28 degrees outside, my daughter comes downstairs in jeans and a t-shirt and I ask her, “Where’s your coat.”

There’s Hitler, Osama Bin Laden…  and me!

Ashley responded to my atrocious and brutal demands.

“What coat? I don’t need a coat!”

That’s how the argument started. Sounds innocent enough, right? It’s January. The cars are all covered with frost. The cat is frozen solid on the back lawn! Isn’t it logical for a dad to ask his 14-year-old daughter where her coat is?

That’s what I thought. Fast forward just two minutes and you would have witnessed a full-blown apocalypse—tears, yelling, backpacks getting airborne. Even the dog retreated to the other room.

Where is that sweet little girl that used to look up to me with her big blue eyes and call me Daddy?

Apparently I didn’t get the memo that there was a jacket shortage in the house. Strike that. Thirteen different girls’ jackets habitat our front closet, just no fashionable jackets, worthy of a stylish freshman girl. That’s why my coat mandate was met with such opposition.

I didn’t see it coming. Having no clue that this would forever be remembered in the McKee house as ‘the coat incident of 2012,’ I maintained my ground. “Sorry Ashley, it’s January. You can see your breath. Put on a jacket and let’s go!”

Houston, we have liftoff.

No need to tell you the rest of that story. If you have a teenage daughter you’ve lived that story.

What am I missing here? Am I that clueless? Does raising teenage girls require drama? Is this an MTV reality show or my house?

Being a dad is difficult. This kind of stuff makes us hesitant to intervene.

Sadly, some dads experience moments like this and withdraw. It’s a common male response. We say, “I’m not even going to try to understand.” Sometimes…that’s smart. But some dads take that a little too far, and in attempt to distance themselves from this kind of drama, they distance themselves from their kids totally….


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Ashley’s Note

Posted on: 06/18/12 4:42 PM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s so good to have my kids all in the house.

Alec is back from college and the girls are adjusting to having him around again. It’s been really fun overall, but I can’t say it’s been without incident. Yesterday we found this note from Ashley taped to the upstairs bathroom door:


Isn’t it fun being a parent of three teenagers?

Greg Stier on “Real Conversations”

Posted on: 06/13/12 10:19 AM | by Jonathan McKee

When I think of evangelism, I think of my buddy Greg Stier. Greg is the type of guy who can start a conversation with a cab driver, and the guy will put his trust in Christ before dropping off Greg at the airport. Greg definitely has the gift.

That’s why, when I started writing the script for my Real Conversations training curriculum on DVD, I sent Greg my first draft and asked for his feedback. Greg’s insight is always priceless (literally…he didn’t charge me a thing).   🙂

Now that my DVD curriculum is released, Greg took a peek at the training and had this to say:

“If you are looking for a way to ease your students into the often awkward (but always awesome!) process of peer-to-peer evangelism then I challenge you to get Real Conversations for your teenagers. McKee is always funny, practical and thought provoking when it comes to anything he teaches…and he doesn’t disappoint in this curriculum! I especially enjoyed the demonstration in episode four showing a conversation between two girls at school and how the Christian girl skillfully, naturally and humbly turned the conversation with her friend toward spiritual things.”
Greg Stier, President Dare 2 Share Ministries

I agree with him– the two girls in “Episode Four” of the training are amazing. It’s a very…well…it’s a very “real conversation” that gives young people a glimpse of what authentic faith conversations might look like in real life. (Get the curriculum right now on sale for less than $20, including the DVD and the participant’s/leaders guide. Shameless plug).

If you haven’t heard or read Greg, I encourage you to check him out at

Even though evangelism isn’t my gift, I like hanging out with Greg because his passion for evangelism rubs off on you. Greg is an encouragement to me, always motivating me to talk to others about the Good News!

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3 Costly Teenage Risky Behaviors

Posted on: 06/11/12 1:34 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Are today’s teenagers engaging in more risky behaviors than before?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) actually produces a bi-annual report that looks for these answers, analyzing teenage risky behaviors like sexual activity, smoking, drinking, fighting, driving without seatbelts, etc. Last week their brand new report with 2011 numbers was released.

Want to know the bottom line?

Good luck. It really depends whose headlines you read. The CDC press release about the report is actually titled, U.S. High School Students Improve Motor Vehicle-related Health Behaviors. And sure enough, more kids are wearing seatbelts, less are drinking and driving, or riding with a driver who has been drinking. But are those the main risky behaviors teenagers are engaging in?

What risky behaviors concern you? Last night my daughter Alyssa began asking me random questions off a questionnaire on her Pinterest page, questions like: What are your 3 biggest fears? or What makes you happy? What started as just Alyssa and I, ended up being my entire family laying around the couch answering Alyssa’s questions. Ashley, my 14-year-old caught my attention with one of her answers to, “What makes you happy?” One of Ashley’s answers was, “When I’m doing something crazy!”

I was a little nervous until she started expanding on her answer, talking about more extreme sport type activities. I guess everyone has different definitions of “risky” or “crazy.”

3 Risky Behaviors:
When I read the report, I immediately was curious about three risky behaviors that I see affecting teenagers for the long-haul: marijuana use, drinking, and sexual activity. I’m not minimizing risky behaviors like bringing a weapon to school or even using hallucinogenic drugs. It’s just that in my 20 years of youth ministry, I’ve seen more pain, heartache and natural consequences from these three risky behaviors on mainstream teenagers than any others.

Here’s what this newest CDC report had to say about these three areas:

Sexual Activity:
Contrary to what the headlines have been saying the last six months, teenage sexual activity is up a notch.

Some of you might remember me bringing some headlines to your attention last October. In October the CDC released another report titled the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) report, revealing that only about 42% of American teenagers have had sex. Headlines immediately appeared claiming Young People Are Having Less Sex!

Is this true?

Unfortunately…not in the last decade.

Many of you probably remember a Youth Culture Window article I wrote titled, “Are Teenagers Really Having Less Sex?” In that article I cited other reports, including CDC’s past Youth Risk Behavior Reports, showing you a nice little chart revealing a decline from 1988 to 2001, then a “leveling off” since then. I told my co-workers. “Let’s wait until the new Youth Risk Behavior Report comes out from the CDC and we’ll see if teenage sexual activity is down.”

Well, the report came out last week, and the numbers aren’t down. The sexual activity headlines should basically be, “Almost Half of High School Students Having Sex.” Here’s a glimpse at these new numbers (the new 2012 report reveals 2011 numbers) compared to the last report two years ago (with 2009 numbers)

Download the entire report to see the breakdown of all grades, races and geographic locations for several different categories of sexual behaviors.

NOTE: The “confidence interval” that the CDC puts on this report is 95%. So these changes of 1% or so really aren’t statistically significant.

So basically, risky sexual behaviors haven’t really gone up or down. But hopefully the little bump up in numbers will at least silence the headlines that are claiming, “Teens are having less sex!” How come we don’t see a headline stating, 63% of teenagers will have sex by the time they walk across the stage to collect their high school diploma?

Marijuana Use:
Up a little more than a notch.

In short, the total amount of H.S. students who ever used marijuana in 2009 was 36.8%. The 2011 number is 39.9%.  But that’s just the young people who have ever tried it even once. How about current users- a number that reveals who has had marijuana even 30 days before the survey, usually indicating regular use. In 2009 this number was 20.8% for all H.S. students. In 2011 current users were 23.1%.

Yes, according to this report, sadly, almost 1/4th of H.S. students are using marijuana regularly. Other reputable reports showed even higher numbers than this. Last month the Partnership at released a report revealing that 27% of H.S. students are “past-month” users of marijuana.

So somewhere between 23 and 27 percent of high school students are regular users. This isn’t good news. (Will we see that press release?)

Down a notch.

Drinking numbers are always interesting. CDC tracks “ever drank alcohol,” “current alcohol user,” and “binge drinking.” I don’t even pay attention to the “ever drank alcohol” numbers. After all, many parents will let their kid try a sip of wine at a wedding. Does that mean that kid is engaging in risky behaviors? Not even close. It just means that they’re Presbyterian!

In 2009 a total of 41.8% of high school students were “current users” (had a drink in the 30 days before the survey). Interestingly enough, that was 42.9% of females compared to 40.8% of males. In 2011 the number of current users dropped to 38.7% of high school students, with the genders flip-flopping— 37.9% of females and 39.5% of males.

In 2009, 24.2% of high school students currently engaged in binge drinking (5 or more drinks within a couple of hours within at least 30 days before the survey). Males were higher than females. In 2011 the number of high school students’ binge drinking shrank to 21.9% (males still higher than females).

The drop in overall current users of alcohol is statistically insignificant, but the drop in female current users is noteworthy (5%). The drop in binge drinking is also notable (over 2%).

I’m glad to see these numbers down a notch, although it’s hard for me celebrate when 4 out of every 10 high school students is a current drinker, and 1 in 5 is a binge drinker.

Drinking is one of those risky behaviors that have dire consequences. One Rutgers study following 437 young women from high school graduation through their freshman year of college, found two scary truths:

  1. Out of the young women who never drank heavily in high school (if at all), nearly half admitted to binge drinking at least once by the end of their first college semester.
  2. Of all the women whose biggest binge had included four to six drinks (5 drinks in one sitting is the definition for binge drinking), one quarter said they’d been sexually victimized in the fall semester (anything from unwanted contact to rape). Those women who ever consumed 10 or more drinks, 59% were sexually victimized by the end of their first semester.

I wonder if these girls think Katy Perry’s song, Last Friday Night is funny?

Drinking, Marijuana use and sexual activity are three behaviors that large percentages of our kids are engaging in… and they are facing the consequences.

What about you?
Are you talking with young people enough about decision making in these areas?

How can you engage young people in conversations, not lectures, about these areas?

10 Ways to Scare Off Pushy Salesmen

Posted on: 06/8/12 6:34 AM | by Jonathan McKee

How come our evangelism techniques sometimes feel like door-to-door “sales” trickery?

I’ve been thinking a lot about evangelism lately, with the release of my new “Real Conversations” evangelism curriculum. In that curriculum I talk about how often our evangelism methodology sometimes can be either too pushy… or too silent.

Jesus was neither.

I probably wouldn’t be sticking my neck out to far when I suggest that our evangelism style should look nothing like a door-to-door salesman who use pushy tactics. Nobody likes a pushy salesman. Do you get these guys coming to your door? Maybe it’s just where I live in the burbs, but we get SOOOOOoooo many of these guys who come to the door trying to sell us something, arguing with you if you say your not interested… so hard to get rid of them. My kids and I have been trying to think of ways to avoid them and get rid of them.

Here’s my Top-10 list of 10 Ways to Scare Off Pushy Door-to-door Salesman. I’ll provide two through 10… and you submit a possible #1. I will vote on the best one and give the winner a free copy of my new Real Conversations curriculum, both a DVD and a Participant’/Leaders Guide.

10 Ways to Scare Off Pushy Door-to-door Salesman.

10. Just stand there sharpening a machete when you open the door.

9. Open the door just wearing a towel… a hand towel!

8. Be hollering at someone in a back room as you open the door, mid sentence. “…and Doctor Morse said as long as I keep taking the antibiotics and don’t go out in public for the next 3 or 4 days, it should be fine.” Finally look at the salesman. “Can I help you?” Start coughing severely without covering your mouth.

7. Silence. Don’t say a word. Just stare (add a subtle lip-quiver if possible).

6. Speak a foreign language to them. (I always speak Elvish.)

5. Open the door frantically holding a leash and a huge dog collar. “Did you find him?!!! Adolf escaped about 10 minutes ago and is roaming the street!”

4. Come to the door with a shotgun and an apple. Tell them you need help “sighting” your shotgun. Ask them to place the apple on their head.

3. Stare at them up and down and then in your best Southern drawl say, “You got a pretty mouth.”

2. Dip the knuckles of your right hand in re-fried beans then open the door and extend your hand to them saying, “Sorry I was so long getting to the door. I was just changing a diaper.”

And it’s up to you to write #1

Use the comments below to submit your best creative way to scare off a pushy door-to-door salesman. I will vote for the winners soon and post it on this blog.

Four Numbers That Will Always Matter in Youth Ministry

Posted on: 06/6/12 11:06 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Life is full of over-reactions…but they are abundant in youth ministry circles.

Have you noticed these swings of the proverbial pendulum?

“Outreach is needed!” “Wait, now we’re ignoring our believers!” “Outreach is bad!”

“We could use events and programs to draw kids!” “Wait, now we’re focusing too much on program, and not enough on the individual.” “Programming is bad!

And now I’m hearing it with numbers again.

“Our youth group has grown to 100 kids weekly.” “Yeah, but the statistic I just read says that all of them are going to Hell…on a bicycle!” “Numbers are bad!”


Can we stop over-reacting and throwing out the baby with the bathwater? (Has anyone actually done this? I wonder if a baby has ever been discarded with bathwater. There has to be a better analogy than this!)

Allow me to be the one to be politically incorrect in today’s ministry world and say it: numbers matter! I realize that some of you think the word “numbers” is the “N” word (you really shouldn’t say that in public, by the way), but I assure you, it’s not. Numbers often open our eyes to the reality of weak areas in our ministry.

Before you scroll directly to the bottom of this blog to post a nasty comment, please hear me out. I’ll keep it simple. Numbers should never be the focus of our ministry, but at times, they provide really helpful information…and a much-needed kick in the butt.

Here’s 4 numbers that will ALWAYS matter in youth ministry:

1.    How many people have you and your leaders led to Christ this year?
Again, before overreacting, note that the Bible actually includes these kinds of numbers. Take a peek at that giant conversion in Acts, Chapter 2. Peter preached, the Lord moved, and “about three thousand were added to their number that day.” (vs. 41). (Did I mention that the Bible has a book titled “Numbers?”) What was Luke thinking when he wrote this down! Didn’t he know that it’s bad to keep track of numbers?

Not true. Numbers often tell us that something is happening the way it’s supposed to happen when we allow the Spirit to work.

If we’re doing ministry in our community, inside and outside the church, people should be meeting Jesus. Does this mean that I should be jealous of Greg because he has led 10 people to put their trust in Christ and I have led only 3? No. But let’s be honest…if I’ve led no one to Christ, I might want to ask why. And if Greg seems to be leading about 10 to 20 people to put their trust in Christ each year and I’m only leading three, I might want to sit down with him, talk with him, and see what I can glean from him. (Especially if Greg is Greg Stier!!!!) We have a lot to learn from each other in the body of Christ. (as iron sharpens iron…)

Numbers keep us accountable to what we should be doing. And we should be introducing people to Christ. If we aren’t…ask why.

2.    How many students are you and your leaders currently discipling?
Ministry doesn’t end with people putting their trust in Jesus. Jesus called us to go and make disciples, not decisions. How many young people are you discipling? If your answer is zero, let me be bold enough to say, you really might want to re-evaluate your ministry.

Better yet, compare this number to the number above—the number of people you and your leaders have led to Christ this year. If the first number is greater, ask why people are making decisions, but not wanting to be discipled  (and that’s an entirely different article). These numbers can help hold us accountable to where we are putting our time. Are we spending 4 hours per week on Wednesday night’s funny video while no kids are being discipled?


Maybe this person should look at numbers to remind himself what’s important.

3.    How many students have you equipped to start using their gifts for the Kingdom?
One of the biggest complaints from the church in the last few years is the large number of teenagers who are walking away from their faith after high school. How many students are we really equipping to own their faith to the point where it spills over and becomes contagious?

That’s really the difference between a kid who’s just growing in their faith and one who’s looking for ministry. The “Looking for Ministry” kid isn’t just growing inwardly, they are following the spirit’s promptings to reach out to others.

Maybe we need to remember to not just focus on ministry to teenagers, but introduce a little bit of ministry by teenagers.

How many student leaders are you developing? How many teenagers have you trained in evangelism this year? How many teenagers are you equipping to do ministry?

These numbers, often ignored, can be some of the most productive numbers you ever count.

4.    How many volunteers have you recruited this year?
Yeah, now I’m really starting to meddle! But let’s face it, we’re doing a great disservice in any youth ministry if we aren’t actively recruiting volunteers to connect with teenagers and be a light in their lives.

Sadly, this area is often put onto the back burner. “I’m a youth pastor, not a recruiter.” Actually, that’s not true. Youth pastors need to be recruiters, equippers and trainers. If the church hires a person to just hang out with teenagers, they made a mistake. Why hire one person to hang out with teenagers when instead you can hire one person who will recruit 20 or 30 volunteers who will all hang out with teenagers?

If you’re a youth worker who finds yourself saying, “I hate recruiting” …you’re not alone. You just need to rethink your methodology (here’s some free help).

How many potential volunteers have you asked to come sit in on a junior high Bible study with you sometime? How many potential volunteers have you asked to drive a vanload of teenagers to the music festival? How many potential volunteers did you give just a small taste of your ministry, following up with them a week later, affirming them for their help and letting them know what a difference they made?

These kinds of numbers keep you accountable to recruiting workers for the harvest.

5.    How few Doritos can you eat after tasting one in a bowl in front of you?
This probably isn’t really important, I just think you’re amazing if you can eat less than 5!!!

Please don’t focus on numbers. Please don’t let numbers define your “value.” Please don’t brag about your numbers. Please don’t let numbers boost your personal pride.

But please… let numbers hold you accountable to the work of the Kingdom.