Hot Topics

Posted on: 02/27/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m really excited about the training labs I’m teaching this weekend at YSPalooza Chicago, because the two topics I’m teaching are addressing two of the biggest training needs I notice in youth ministries across the U.S.

I know that might sound a little dogmatic. Don’t get me wrong—I really don’t think I have some unique sense of what American youth ministries need. I just make a habit of listening to people on the front lines all over North America, and I have noticed some common denominators that surface when it comes to training needs. The YS leadership team looks at these as well so they know what training and resources to provide. This year, these two topics were among that rose to the top Continue reading “Hot Topics”

Bang with Friends

Posted on: 02/25/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Friends with benefits, hooking up, no strings attached… it has many names. But now technology is making it even easier, because this app takes all the guessing out of the equation.

If only it could erase the consequences.

If you follow me on Twitter you saw my Tweet about this taboo little social networking phenomenon last week. It’s the ultimate tool for discovering which of your friends are interested in a little meaningless sex Continue reading “Bang with Friends”

Scream & Shout

Posted on: 02/19/13 11:50 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The music industry is at it again, pimping easily accessible smut for our kids’ eyes and ears. This time, it’s a new music video from Will I Am… and most parents don’t have a clue.

That’s what scares me the most– how unaware parents are. After the Super Bowl this year, I kept encountering articles written by parents who were “shocked” by Beyonce’s performance.


Don’t get me wrong. She was overtly sexual, she was inappropriate, and I think it’s sad that our country happily endorses that entertainment. But her performance was in no way “shocking.” If you’ve ever seen Continue reading “Scream & Shout”

My Baby in Uganda

Posted on: 02/15/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

As I’m stepping on a plane to NC today for a weekend of teaching, it’s actually my second trip to the airport within the last 24 hours. Yesterday Lori and I dropped off my daughter Alyssa, my dad and my mom at the airport where they joined a team of 21 people from our church who are going to Uganda to serve for two weeks.

I’m so excited for Alyssa… and a little scared.

I know I shouldn’t be worried. Our church has sent teams to partner with these Ugandan churches for years now. It’s an amazing time where Christians from different countries learn from each other and worship alongside one another. My dad is going to be training hundreds of Ugandan pastors, my mom (a CSUS professor) will be teaching at a women’s conference, and my little Alyssa (17) will be helping where needed and using her awesome photo skills to Continue reading “My Baby in Uganda”

A Simple Little Contest

Posted on: 02/12/13 1:17 PM | by Jonathan McKee


I’ve got an exciting speaking schedule in the next few months, starting with the East Coast this weekend at this church in Raleigh, NC. I always like to let you know when I’m coming to your area, and I can do that more efficiently when I know where you’re from.

So here’s a quick and easy little contest for those of you in the U.S. You simply update your subscription profile information… and I will draw 3 random winners and give them a copy of one of these 3 new books from YS. So….

IF YOU ALREADY SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOG: Just scroll down to the bottom of the email you receive from any one of my blog or eZine posts, and you’ll see the words “update subscription” underlined at the very bottom of the email. Click on that and you can add your name and zipcode to your subscription (zipcode is a brand new field we added, so I’ll know who has updated preferences by looking at the new zipcode entries).

IF YOU HAVEN’T YET SUBSCRIBED TO MY BLOG: Then click HERE and enter your email address, subscribing to my blog and/or our other free newsletters. Once you do this, then check your email inbox and you will receive an email with a button that says, “Yes, subscribe me to this list.” Once you click that, it will take you to a page that has an option to “Manage your preferences.” Click there. YOU MUST add your name and zipcode to those preferences to enter the contest.

That’s it. It’s that simple. I’ll randomly draw 3 winners one week from today, AND I’ll let you know if I’m ever coming to your area.

Here’s some of my upcoming trips this spring:

Raleigh, NC: If you’re within driving distance of Raleigh, NC… I’ll be flying there this weekend, speaking in the morning services at Highland Baptist Church Sunday, then teaching my Parenting the Texting Generation workshop from 2:30 to 4:30 (more details on their website here).

Then my spring calendar really starts to get crazy. See if I’m coming to a city near you:

March 1-2, 2013 (Chicago, IL)
Youth Worker Training, YS Palooza Chicago

March 10, 2013 (Hartland, WI)
Preach, Parent Workshop, Westbrook Church

March 15-16, 2013 (Des Moines, IA)
Leadership Training, IGNITE Youth Leadership Conference

March 17, 2013 (Norwalk, IA)
Preach, Parent Workshop, Fellowship Community Church

April 6, 2013 (Fridley, MN)
Connect Workshop, Grace EV FREE Church

April 7, 2013 (Fridley, MN)
Preach, Parent Workshop, Grace EV FREE Church

April 12-13, 2013 (Philadelphia, PA)
Youth Worker Training, YS Palooza Philly

April 14, 2013 (Philadelphia, PA)
Preach, Parent Workshop, Ridley Park Presbyterian Church

April 15, 2013 (Sewell, NJ)
Parent Workshop
, Gloucester County Community Church

May 5, 2013 (Kingsburg, CA)
Preach, Parent Workshop, First Baptist Church

May 12, 2013 (Carmichael, CA)
Preach- Mother’s Day, Christ Community Church

May 16-18, 2013 (Azusa, CA)
Parenting Workshops, the FAM Conference, Azusa Pacific University

June 12-14, 2013 (Irving, TX)
Youth Leadership Training, Student Leadership Conference 2013


The following three are the randomly selected winners. If this is you, use the comment feature of the blog to tell me which book, of the three books linked, that you want. It’s first come first serve, I have one of each book to give away. I’ll email you and confirm address, etc. once I see your response.

Rodrigo Morales

Renee Jones
Nancy Chao

Replacing Monologue with Dialogue

Posted on: 02/11/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

What is the biggest impact an adult can make in the life of a young person?

I don’t even have to blink. The answer is, constant dialogue.

The key word there is dialogue, not monologue. Adults are pretty good at lecturing… but listening? Not so much. The lecturer misses out on what is going on in the world of a young person. The listener hears the heart of the person and draws out the truth.

Last week my son texted me, all excited about a discussion in one of his classes at APU, his college down in Southern California. The teacher had read the new CDC report about binge drinking among girls (the scary subject of the brand new Youth Culture Window article I just posted yesterday, Binge Drinking Unrecognized). Instead of lecturing, the teacher began asking questions.

“When does drinking become dangerous?”

“How many drinks does it take?”

Conversation erupted. It doesn’t take much when you ask teenagers the right questions.

Don’t underestimate the power of mentorship. This younger generation actually craves coaching. They want someone who will dialogue with them about the real-life issues they are facing.

Are you ready for these conversations?

Are the adults in your church equipped for these conversations?


Teenagers and Their Screens

Posted on: 02/6/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Which screens are teenagers clocking the most time in front of?

The answer has always overwhelmingly been the traditional TV. But, as a guy who spends a few hours a day researching youth culture, I’m not sure that it’s going to stay that way.

Each year new studies emerge revealing the growing popularity of other screens like the laptop, the smartphone and the tablet. This new Harris Interactive study, for example, shows 30% of young people age 18-34 favoring TV as their primary source of news and entertainment, with a very close 28% favoring the laptop computer.

The race is getting closer.

But let’s be clear, these studies vary depending on how you ask the question. For example, in the end of 2011 I blogged about a study where teenagers were asked, “What would you rather give up, T.V. or internet?” A slight majority said they’d give up TV. But if you look at the most recent Nielsen reports, you’ll find that young people (even as young as 12-17) are clocking more butt time in front of a TV than in front of a computer.

So which is it? And is perception different than actual time spent?

As a parent of three teenagers with iPhones, I can’t help but observe a huge increase in mobile app time. In my house, my kids’ daily smart phone time probably exceeds their daily TV time. But my kids don’t watch much TV, and I don’t want to assume that my home is an accurate representation of America.

It’s funny to look at all the different numbers various studies come up with. Sometimes it’s difficult to know who to believe. I’ve learned to look for common trends in reports. For example, most reports agree that smart phone ownership is growing, which is boosting the amount of time that kids are using social media. But most reports also agree about the draw of the TV. What differs is exactly how many hours young people are spending on each medium.

It’s important to notice these differences among age groups. For example, if you look at most studies about 18-25-year olds, they don’t seem to watch as much traditional TV as other age groups. Maybe this is because a huge chunk of them are in a college dorm without cable or Satellite. My 19-year-old son lives in a dorm at Azusa Pacific University. When he watches TV, he’s usually streaming Hulu or Netflix on his laptop. Compare that to his grandpa who watches almost all television via DVR on his TV.

The one source that no ones seems to doubt is the Kaiser studies. In 2010 Kaiser released their most recent “entertainment media” study, a study released every 5 years and cited by almost every periodical, newspaper and medical journal. This report revealed that the average 8-18-year old in America watches over 4 hours of TV a day, listens to over 2 hours of music and spends over an hour online.

The only problem? The report only comes out every 5 years!!!

So the last numbers we have are from the 2010 report, which are 2009 numbers. That’s 4 years ago. Back then, Pinterest wasn’t even on the map, and most teenagers didn’t own smartphones (now 74% of 25-34-year olds and 58% of 13-17-year olds do). What will the 2015 report reveal?

One thing for sure… and I’m sure no one would argue. Young people sure spend a lot of time in front of screens!

What about you?
What do you observe out of your kids?

Does TV consume more time from your teenagers than other screens?

What 110 Million Viewers Gleaned from CBS

Posted on: 02/4/13 10:32 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Some might wonder why 110 million worldwide viewers gathered yesterday to watch a game, which, when the guys with the pencil protectors finish their calculations, will probably turn out to be the most-watched TV show in U.S. history.

Maybe it was the unique matchup of two teams, one from each U.S. coast, who barely scraped wins from some of the closest and most challenging championship games in years.

Or maybe… it was the commercials.

Americans love Super Bowl Sunday, an American holiday of sorts. I’ve shared my theories on why. But it’s undeniable that this television event is one where people actually want to watch the ads. Maybe that’s why these spots sell for $4 million for just 30-seconds.

This year, I had two favorites. I can’t tell you which is my No. 1, because I loved them both for different reasons.

My favorite funny ad had to be the Doritos ad, “Goat for Sale.” This little 30-second ad was hilarious, memorable, and actually made you remember the brand advertised. That’s a lot of bang for your buck… er… your 4 million bucks. Check it out:

But the sentimental side of me (or as my wife would call it, “the woman in me”) loved Anheuser-Busch’s heartwarming spot, “Brotherhood,” showing the raising and training of a young Clydesdale horse that is sold to Budweiser, only to be reunited with his former trainer for just a few seconds years later.

Yes… I cried.

This spot was the No. 1 spot of the day, according to Ad Meter, winning by a nose. Check it out:

USA Today posted all the best commercial videos, clickable and ready to watch, in order of popularity on this page, or you can view the whole list here.

My Soapbox
Let’s be honest. Watching TV is becoming a struggle for many parents today, regardless of religious belief, because when you sit down to watch a show as a family, you hope to not have to leap across the couch and cover little Josh’s eyes.

Yesterday was probably a pleasant experience overall for parents, but they definitely grew nervous a few times, like when the GoDaddy ad featuring gorgeous model Bar Refaeli began. But unlike previous years, where GoDaddy admittedly used eye-candy, this year they just used… awkward?

CBS definitely aired a few ads that made parents squirm in their seats: the racy Carls Jr. ad—sexy girl eating a burger, or perhaps the Gildan shirts ad where the guy wakes up Hangover-style in furry handcuffs and wants his shirt back from the girl lying in the bed. Maybe we should celebrate that ads like this ad for PornHub didn’t make the cut this year.

I think one of the most obvious ploys used by television networks over the years is the attempt to lure viewers to watch the program immediately following the Super Bowl. Often, networks use low hanging fruit like eye-candy or raunchy humor to entice viewers. (Did you notice the commercial for CBS shows where they advertised, “irresponsible”? I guess that’s a marketing draw now.) This year, CBS showed a special episode of their new show Elementary, usually airing on Thursday nights. As the show began, two girls in lingerie seduced Sherlock Holmes and tied him to a chair. I’ve seen this show numerous times and it’s never used this tactic before. I guess CBS had to bet “all in” if they were to try to win those Super Bowl viewers.

INSERTED NOTE: To those who are wondering why I decided not to even cast any opinion about the Super Bowl halftime show this year: Why? Because it was exactly what people should have expected. Beyonce always dresses like that, she always dances like that, and America, in general, embraces her, seeing no problem with her onstage antics. Celebrities who dress modest are actually the exception today. The most innocent of our daughters’ role models dress slutty, and our girls are learning that’s it’s readily acceptable to dress slutty. It’s a wonder why parents are sitting around scratching their heads wondering why our teenagers act the way they do at school dances. Our girls are slowly becoming sexualized; I’ve blogged about this countless times. So if you found the Super Bowl halftime show surprising… my only response is… where have you been? If you found the Super Bowl halftime show sad… my response is… good! You just saw a glimpse of the kind of entertainment media our kids are simmering in daily.

So my simple advice to parents is twofold: co-viewing and dialogue.

Don’t let your kids watch TV by themselves. Do what the AAP recommends and watch TV with them. I would go further and recommend recording shows with a DVR so you can use my three-button approach to watching TV with your kids, opening doors of opportunity for dialogue. Yes, dialogue, not monologue. In other words: don’t lecture, but ask questions. After seeing a guy waking up from a one night stand wearing furry handcuffs, ask your teenagers some questions,

“So what do you think this commercial is saying?”

“Is it telling the whole story?”

If you keep up on youth culture, like when you need my new Youth Culture Window article about teenage binge drinking I’ll be posting this weekend (sign up to receive these articles in your inbox HERE), you can even cite a recent study and ask your kids’ thoughts about the truth on the subject.

Bottom line: don’t let CBS determine what’s okay and not okay for your kids to watch. Walk along the road with your kids having these conversations, equipping then to make good choices when they are on their own.


What iTunes Reveals about Teenagers

Does My Daughter Dress Slutty?

Consuming Music… (Do the Lyrics Affect Me?)