Posted on: 05/13/14 5:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

teenagers-listening-parentsI’m working on a brand new Parenting Help article that will be featured on the front page of next week. I thought I’d give you, my blog subscribers, a first peek at it and throw me some feedback.

Which do you think is a more effective way to teach today’s young people how to make good decisions?

“You should do this.”


“What do you think you should do?”

It’s funny how often parents, mentors, and youth pastors end up becoming the voice of “you should” or “you should not” in a young person’s life Continue reading “Moving from YOU SHOULD to SHOULD YOU?”

These guys stuck out

Posted on: 03/3/14 10:06 AM | by Jonathan McKee

ArmyofLightBandI speak at about 25 events a year. And in a world where most Christian events contain two elements—a band, and a speaker—I hear A LOT of worship bands.

Last weekend I heard a band that really stuck out.

Let me explain “stuck out.”

I was hosting and speaking at one of the eleven Youth Specialties Team Training events. This one was in Phoenix, and Kara Powell, Brian Aaby and I were the speakers. The doors hadn’t opened; four of us were Continue reading “These guys stuck out”

The Naked Truth

Posted on: 02/14/14 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

between the sheetsTonight I speak to a few hundred middle school kids about sex at an event at a church near Chicago called The Naked Truth.

I’m really proud of this church for addressing this subject so candidly with families, a subject that is often hushed by the church. I’m excited to share the explicit truth with these young people, especially in a culture where they hear so many explicit lies.

Here’s the intro to my talk Continue reading “The Naked Truth”

Guys, Girls… and Zombies

Posted on: 11/7/13 3:11 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Kid-reading-Zombie-bookI’m still scratching my head a little bit about this The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers we put on the shelves just two month ago. It was difficult to get a Christian publisher to print anything with the word Zombie, but once we did… it’s now our top selling book on my site, the Youth Cartel site, and on Amazon.

Youth worker Josh from Kansas just emailed me today about his guys’ small group:

I’ve started my high school guys small group on your The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenagers.  They are ecstatic about it.  I had given them several options for resources for us to go through and they unanimously and rather vocally all wanted “The Zombie Book” as they call it Continue reading “Guys, Girls… and Zombies”

The Gospel According to The Walking Dead

Posted on: 10/23/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Michonne-Walking-DeadLast week after watching the record-breaking premiere of The Walking Dead, I once again was captivated by the series’ ability to provoke discussion. The series has an amazing ability to stir people to talk about what they just saw.

That’s why we launched “The Gospel According to The Walking Dead.”

The Walking Dead is not only one of the most popular shows on television, it’s one of the most discussed. Sure, people like Duck Dynasty, but you won’t find a lot of water cooler discussions happening the next day discussing why Godwin decided to put his $200 hot tub in the front yard. You will, however, find countless circles of people debating Continue reading “The Gospel According to The Walking Dead”

Top 10 Zombie Apocalypse Survival Activities

Posted on: 10/15/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The Walking Dead premiere broke all the records Sunday night, with 16.1 million total viewers, 10.4 million of those in the 18-49 demographic. That makes “Dead” the most-watched show in the demo on any channel, broadcast or cable, this fall, and that includes sports. No NFL game has drawn more viewers in that key age bracket this entire season.

Survival stories like this always stimulate creative conversations (that’s why I use the genre to provoke discussions with teenagers). What would you do if your water supply were shut off tomorrow? What if the grocery store shelves were empty? Where would you try to hole up and survive? Continue reading “Top 10 Zombie Apocalypse Survival Activities”

The Kids Outside the Gates

Posted on: 10/10/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Here’s a puzzle to solve. No, it’s not a riddle or a mind bender. It’s a true ministry dilemma sure to spark discussion among people with a passion for ministry  (Which is the exact type of ‘case study’ I liked to always drop in the laps of my leadership team).

When I was in Uganda I visited a youth group made up primarily of international students from a certain private school. The kids were mixed racially and Continue reading “The Kids Outside the Gates”

iPhone Scavenger Hunt

Posted on: 09/23/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

My daughter Ashley wanted to do something a little different for her 16th birthday party with her friends, so I reached into my old youth ministry toolkit ( and planned something just a little different than the same ol’ same ol.’ We called it the “Great Hunt.”

It was a blast! (I embedded the video below)

We didn’t tell her friends anything in advance other than Continue reading “iPhone Scavenger Hunt”

Boring Them to Death

Posted on: 09/19/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“Long boring sermons just don’t work.”

It was the one common denominator on almost everyone’s paper. I just spent two weeks speaking to young people and training youth workers in Uganda… and their kids are just like ours.

The training workshops were particularly revealing. We started each session breaking up into groups, brainstorming ideas on a large piece of paper, listing ministry practices that were working… and also models that, sadly, weren’t working. Then we discussed each item in detail, speculating why, and learning from each others’ successes and failures.

Despite our many differences, I was amazed at the similarity between Uganda and American Continue reading “Boring Them to Death”

Discipling Teenagers

Posted on: 08/7/13 3:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

In the nineties youth ministry was so focused on ‘effective outreach,’ often ‘effective spiritual growth’ was moved to the back burner.

This went on for about a decade, until the church had to begin doing triage with kids who had been raised in the church, but never discipled to own their own faith.

Now the most common questions I hear from youth workers and parents are Continue reading “Discipling Teenagers”