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…


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!

On the Front Lines With Teenagers

Posted on: 08/26/10 9:11 AM | by Jonathan McKee

In my CONNECT workshop, I always teach a section called “Connecting on the Front Lines.” This is where the rubber meets the road– when we step out of our comfort zone to try to meet some kids on their turf… and we have NO IDEA what to say!

Have you ever been there? I have. It’s terrifying!

Michelle has too. She just emailed me this idea she uses when she’s on campus trying to connect with kids.

Hey Jonathan!

I just wanted to share an idea with you. I have been visiting our local middle school every week for the past three years. Something that works really well for me to meet students is to bring snack-size candy bars. I put a few on the table where I sit, and it doesn’t take long for kids to ask, “Hey, can I have a candy bar?” My response is always the same. “Yes, but there’s a catch. You have to tell me your name.” They do, and then I tell them my mine. Okay, so now I’m learning some names (and I do write them down and try to learn them!).

The next week, some of the same kids will approach (plus a few of their friends), and hopefully I remember their names (or at least a few names). So I tell them, “If I remember your name, you have to answer a question for me. If I don’t know your name, the candy is yours.” I bring a “Would You Rather?” book or another discussion starter book along with me. The kids love this! They run up every week yelling, “What’s my name? Ask me a question!”

Eventually, I had a small group of them that just wanted to answer questions, and the principal allowed them to skip the “free rec” time outside to sit with me in the cafeteria and talk.

I thought this might help some of those out there with a fear of going on campus to meet kids. This way is pain-free!

Thanks for a great site!

Michelle, Michigan

I love Michelle’s idea.

It’s tough out there on the front lines. That’s why I wrote CONNECT. Chapters 5 thru 8 talk specifically about going to the front lines to reach the three types of outreach kids on “their turf,” laying out the process step by step. Youth workers- Now is a great time to get this into the hands of your volunteers! (We have this book on sale right now on our site– lowest price on the web. We even have bulk package deals with a greater discount if you want to buy it for your whole team.)

When Our Kids Don’t Want to Reach Out

Posted on: 08/16/10 4:53 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last weekend at my CONNECT workshop in Amarillo, TX, a youth pastor named Chris asked me a great question: What do you do when your Christian kids don’t want to reach out to their friends? (At the end of this blog I ask for your response to this question- I encourage you to comment)

This question was rather timely and almost pinched a nerve with me, because the week prior I had just talked with one of my publishers about the possibilities of me writing a book to students about reaching out to their friends (basically, a student version of my Do They Run… book). The publisher literally said, “Sorry, I just don’t see today’s kids buying a book about how to reach their friends.” (Wow. True or not… what a stigma!)

I didn’t attempt to give Chris a quick & simple answer. I really don’t see one “cookie cutter” approach that kids can try on (“Reach your friends in these 3 simple steps!”) But I was able to offer him some ideas that might help him “light the fire” under the butts of students and get them thinking about ministry.

First, I told him that he should take the spiritual pulse of his students and particularly identify his “Stagnant” and “Growing” kids. (For those who haven’t read my book CONNECT where I lay out how to do this spiritual inventory, I provide a quick free video of the “Six Types of Kids” on our web site. Anyone can do this inventory as described in my book, or as demonstrated in this free video of “The Stickynotes Exercise”.) Unlike the “Looking for Ministry” kids, these other two kids aren’t excited about reaching out to their friends. Once you identify your Stagnant and Growing kids, you begin investing in them, helping them grow spiritually and discover their giftedness.

We talked about this concept much of the weekend at the training workshop: when our “right column” kids take an interest in reaching our “left column” kids.

Here’s just a few of the ideas I went on to share with Chris about how to help these kids not only grow spiritually, but also to challenge them to reach out to others:

– Teach about reaching out. This may sound oversimplified, but sometimes we tend to ignore passages about evangelism. Why not teach about passages like Matthew 9 when Jesus declares that he came to reach sinners, not those who think they’re already good enough. How about passages like I Peter 3:15-18 where we see a balance of “words” and “action.” Or how about teaching Galatians 3 to share how God intended to reach “all nations” from the beginning. (You can hear my sermon about this in Episode #5 of our free podcast here)

– Take our students to conferences where they will be encouraged and equipped to reach out. The best of these conferences are those that Dare 2 Share does across the county. These conferences are amazing, as is their speaker, Greg Stier. If you want to hear a taste of Greg, take a listen to him and I discussing the Great Commission in our last podcast together.

– Give our students opportunities to serve. Take them to a convalescent home or a homeless shelter to help someone face to face. Encourage them to not only get their hands dirty, but engage in conversations. (I speak to this balance of words and actions my CONNECT book in chapter 3, titled, The One-on-one Intentions Debate: All About Love or All About Evangelism.)

Begin a student leadership team. Equip kids to serve and reach out. Teach them to discover and use their spiritual gifts. David and I just finished our book on this subject, a book titled, Ministry BY Students. It comes out from YS/Zondervan in a couple of months (and will be available on our site).

Many of us probably identify with Chris’ question. I definitely don’t have all the answers. Feel free to use the comment feature below to share some of your own ideas on the subject.

Using Kesha to talk about true love

Posted on: 08/11/10 7:28 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I don’t know if you’ve noticed… but we’ve been pumping out a ton of free curriculum and discussions on TheSource4YM’s MUSIC DISCUSSIONS page and MOVIE CLIP DISCUSSIONS page this summer.

This week we just added a new discussion using Kesha’s song, Your Love is My Drug to springboard a conversation about focusing on the true definition of love given by God.

Most of our kids are familiar with Kesha and this song… this is a great chance to ask them, “Have you thought about what she’s saying?”

Our discussion provides small group questions, scripture and a wrap up.

Find that and others on our MUSIC DISCUSSIONS page.

Just 1 Thing

Posted on: 08/9/10 8:57 AM | by Jonathan McKee

A little over a month ago a youth ministry blogger by the name of Jeremy Zach asked me, Tim Schmoyer, Mike King, Dan Haugh, and a bunch of other youth ministry folks to answer a single question: What is one thing (only one thing) you want to tell the youth pastor population?

I liked Jeremy’s get go… so I decided to indulge.

I kicked him back my answer and he posted it on his blog last week. Here’s a piece of it:


Jeremy asked me a good question. “What is the one thing you want to tell the youth pastor population?”

Nothing like narrowing it down to the nitty gritty! Boom! Pow!

Funny, I was asked this very question by a friend of mine, a fellow youth worker, just a few years ago. He said, “Jonathan, I’m about to have my first adult leader training. I want to give them something foundational for them as they minister to kids throughout the year. What one thing should I teach them?”

What would you say? Think about that for a second. “What one thing?”

I said the first thing that popped in my head. “I’d want to train my leaders to connect with kids and love them as Christ loves us.”

My friend responded, “Connect?”

“Yeah. Connect with kids. You know—take them out for coffee, go to their baseball game, get ice cream with them after school. Spending time with them and letting Christ’s love embrace them through you.”

My friend seemed to walk away surprised. I wasn’t telling him anything new. The “Connecting” concept is at least a chapter in most youth ministry books, but I think he wasn’t expecting it as the answer. I held my ground. Connecting was the most important thing.  

For the next year I began to notice something. Much of the youth ministry world wasn’t making “connecting” a priority. Youth ministries were getting good at programming, giving talks, big events and even Bible studies. But not much effort was given to connecting with kids one-on-one.

I noticed this “relational ministry” void every time someone would ask me questions about “problems” in their youth ministry. They would ask me about a kid that wasn’t responding, or a student leader who had fallen into sin, or a certain type of kid that they just weren’t attracting to their ministry. In all these situations I asked one question in return, “Have you tried connecting with them one-on-one?”

In most these situations I was met with a blank stare.

After the third or fourth time this happened to me within a couple of months, I thought, “You’ve got to be freaking kidding me!” I seriously wondered, How has this been overlooked…

CLICK HERE FOR THE REST of this blog telling this story which actually led to how my book CONNECT came to be.