RECENT BLOG POSTS

Religious Wackos Talking Trash About Heath Ledger

Posted on: 01/23/08 9:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Wow… just when you thought you saw it all.

Let me back up just a bit.

Most of you have probably read the very sad story of the death of Heath Ledger, the young actor who starred in The Patriot, A Knights Tale, The Four Feathers, Brokeback Mountain and many other films. Heath died yesterday in his New York apartment of a possible drug overdose.

He had a 2-year-old child.

My heart goes out to his family and friends. So sad.

Unfortunately, some weirdos have already emerged casting judgement on Heath for his role in Brokeback Mountain. This website (I don’t even want to type the address) from Westboro Baptist Church has posted a “flyer” how they will picket his funeral because he was a “pervert” and he is “now serving in Hell.” It’s so hateful, it is difficult to even read.

NOTE: that weblink is getting a lot of traffic today… so here is the image they have posted on their site:

Other sites have already began posting pictures of what are believed to be amongst the last images of Heath Ledger alive. Tragic.

I guess I just wonder what Bible this church is reading? If they call themselves Christians… what Christ do they belong to? Because the Christ I know was loving, forgiving and gracious to prostitutes, tax collectors and sinners. The worse the sinner, the more they were drawn to Jesus. And Jesus always showed love and grace, balanced with the truth– I just talked about this balance in my blog last week (I can’t help but think how he responded to the woman caught in adultery in John 8).

Pray for Heath’s family… his little girl.

And Jesus told us to pray for our enemies too. So I guess I better start praying for Westboro Baptist Church.

 

 

Young Life Skit Causes Stir

Posted on: 01/23/08 8:47 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Ah… this article from brings back memories:

Police in Mount Lebanon, Pa., said in December that no illegal acts were involved, but some parents still want to know why the nondenominational Christian Mount Lebanon Young Life club had staged a teenagers’ social event during which boys wore adult diapers, bibs and bonnets and sat in girls’ laps while being spoon-fed. Said youth minister O.J. Wandrisco, the skits were not “dirty,” but “to break down the walls and let (the kids) have fun.” A previous skit involved, according to a parent, kids eating chocolate pudding out of diapers. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12-8-07]

Wow… and I found this in News of the Weird . That’s quite an acheivement- I’ve never made it into that publication. I’m so jealous!  🙂  (My gross games page only made it into WORLD Magazine a few years ago… but that’s a whole ‘nother story!)

Friday Night Lights On My Mind

Posted on: 01/22/08 8:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“I always find it intriguing to catch even a glimpse of how the world views Christians.”

That’s how I started an October 17th EZINE article about NBC’s Friday Night Lights … and so the saga continues.

In review… I loved the show last year. But this year it has seemed to try a little too hard to shock us with murder, backstabbing, and scandal of all shapes and sizes. If anything, the show has lost its realistic feel that it had in Season One.

But one thing has perked my interest- not necessarily in a good way- more like, “Oh no… where are they going with this?!” …that is in the character of Lyla Garrity who accepted Jesus. Since my October article, we have now seen Lyla do some actions that made me cringe, and others that were pretty realistic. A few episodes ago she brought another character (Riggins) to church- a guy that was the last guy you’d expect in church- and we saw something happen to him. It wasn’t vivid, but it was almost as if seeds were planted. Not at all what you’d expect from a TV show!

In the last episode Lyla started working for a Christian radio station hosting a show where Christian young people call in for advice. I looked at my wife Lori when each call came in and said, “Let’s see how they write this Christian answer to a tough question.” Lyla answered “is oral sex okay” (they kind of side-stepped that one), and “should I worry when people make fun of me for praying at school,” etc.

I’m torn. It’s one of the few times I’ve seen a network show have a Christian character that they didn’t seem to mock (Studio 60 might have claimed to do that last year, but… don’t get me started on that one.) Lyla actually is given a good amount of screen time. And even though I don’t agree with everything she’s doing… they seem to be putting her in a positive light.

Well… like it or not, FNL’s attempts to woo audiences haven’t worked.

This New York Times article said yesterday:

All the while, the show is a bona fide washout. Six or so million people watch “Friday Night Lights,” compared with around 13 million for NBC’s hit “Heroes.” No single episode has ever broken the Top 50 most-viewed prime-time shows. In popularity, it lags far behind “Dancing With the Stars,” “Deal or No Deal” and “The Bachelor.” Even now that the Nielsen ratings try to account for viewers who digitally record a show and watch it within a week of its air date (affluent viewers, perhaps?), the show’s numbers are lousy.

So FNL fans should probably prepare themselves… it ain’t gonna last. In the meantime, I’m keeping my eye on the show. I enjoy seeing my favorite characters from last season (Coach, Riggins, and Smash’s mom), and I’m biting my nails as I watch what becomes of the lone Christian Lyla Garrity.

 

American Idol

Posted on: 01/21/08 9:11 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Interesting… American Idol has fewer viewers so far this year, but still is beating all the other networks combined whenever it is on.

An article in Media Life Magazine tells us:

And of course there is “Idol.” The show drew its smallest opening-night audience in four years, but it was so far out ahead of the competition that it almost didn’t matter. The first two episodes of the smash singing show have averaged a 13.2 rating, making them the year’s two highest-rated non-sports shows on broadcast, 48 percent better than the No. 3 show, the Sept. 27 premiere of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” at an 8.9.

Even if “Idol’s” numbers fall off a bit more, it will still power Fox to an easy No. 1 this season unless one of the other networks’ reality shows really takes off, which seems unlikely.

Also… a little controversy never hurts. (controversy helped Jamie Lynne’s Zoey’s ratings.)

I spoke to kids this weekend and did a little “stand up” bit on American Idol auditions. It’s amazing. Usually when you talk about a show you include a certain chunk of the audience and exclude others… not with Idol. EVERYONE knows… they’ve all seen some of the auditions one year or another.

It will be interesting to see how many teenagers it will keep this season…

NFL Cracking Down on Churches Showing the Super Bowl on the Big Screen

Posted on: 01/19/08 9:35 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Every year our ministry provides fun resources for for all the churches and youth groups that have Super Bowl parties. Last year, a wrench was thrown in the works… the NFL cracked down on churches showing the game on the big screen.

Seriously?

Yep… no joke. This actually doesn’t surprise me. Any Monday Night Football fan remembers that little disclaimer they make about the game not being for public showing, yada, yada, yada. Well, some churches have these giant Super Bowl parties and charge admission.

Well, the NFL is cracking down on these large gatherings watching the game on the big screen.

Here are the two issues: collecting money, and screen size.

The Daily Progress out of Charlottesville, VA has an article talking about this situation. This article talks about the Indianapolis church that was told they couldn’t show the game on the big screen. A Charlottesville lawyer, John W. Whitehead, wants to fight this, saying that “he’d sue if he could only find a church willing to sign on as a client.”  (Really? A lawyer wants to sue?)

The article goes into detail:

At issue is a law and corresponding league rule that says the Super Bowl can’t be shown to gatherings on a screen larger than 55 inches.

Whitehead, who has made a career in part by defending religious groups on free speech issues, says that rule keeps most churches from being able to host Super Bowl parties and show the game.

“It’s absurd to say that anyone in a larger crowd can watch it on a 55-inch screen,” he said. “They can’t.”

The league’s policy is modeled after the federal Copyright Act, and does not unfairly target churches, according to an NFL spokesman.

“Our position on this is that we have absolutely no objection to churches and others hosting Super Bowl viewing parties as long as they don’t charge admission and they show the game on a television of the type that is commonly used at home,” said NFL spokesman Greg Aiello.

Is a lawsuit the answer?

Here’s my two cents: Fair or not, it’s a law. We need to obey it.

But don’t worry… we CAN still have superbowl parties, IN HOMES. That’s right. Personally, that’s more fun anyway. It’s more intimate. For large churches or youth groups, what a great way to connect people with others in their area. Have “area Super Bowl parties.”

And as for the money? Don’t charge admission, just make it a “bring your own snack” party. Admission is a bag of Doritos or a 2 Liter of Pepsi.

A few examples of what this can look like:

I was one of the leaders of a young couple’s ministry at my church a few years ago. We used to have a Super Bowl party at one of the leader’s house and invite the whole young couple’s class. We had about 30 people show up. It was a big house with a big TV and a big freaking couch!!! It was a lot of fun.

When I was in high school (WAAAAAAAAAY back in the day), my youth group used to always have a Super Bowl party at one of the youth leaders’ houses. This was always great fun. Our youth group was a decent size, about 70 kids weekly. This youth leader built bleachers in his house… (it was awesome) in two different rooms. All the fans for one team went in one room, all the fans of the other went in the other room (he wasn’t trying to cause divisions, the rooms were only so big… we needed multiple rooms to fit all the kids). I’ll always remember that Super Bowl.

Oh… and screen size? Do you remember what TV’s used to be in the 80’s? (okay… I just dated myself. I was in high school in the 80’s. Yes… pegged pants, an Izod with the collar up, a white Miami Vice jacket… the whole bit!) A BIG TV in the 80’s was 27 inches, unless you were one of the few people who had those funky projection BIG SCREENS with the three lights shining on it (and you couldn’t even see the picture unless you weren’t dead center). Yes… that memorable Super Bowl I saw on the bleachers in a living room in high school was on a 25″ TV.

So I have no problem with 55 inches.

So… this year our ministry will be providing its annual Super Bowl activity ideas, including a fun little Super Bowl quiz- a competition predicting the results of the game. (here’s last year’s quiz) People take the quiz before the game starts answering who they think will catch the most passes, which team will score first, who will get the most field goals, etc. After the game, you tally up the results and see who did the best on the “quiz.”

Great fun.

So throw your Super Bowl parties this year. Just 1. don’t charge  2. and “keep it on a on a television of the type that is commonly used at home,” to quote that NFL spokesman word for word.

So who’s gonna win?

Beyond Will and Grace

Posted on: 01/17/08 8:55 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Beyond Will and Grace. That was the title of a sermon that Bryan Wilkerson gave, posted on Gordon Conwell’s (the Boston seminary) site.

Bryan is the pastor of Grace Chapel in Lexington, MA, one of the first mega churches in New England. He is Haddon Robinson trained (Dr. Haddon Robinson is the preaching professor who- may I be so bold to say- wrote THE book on preaching) and he delivers relevant and compelling Biblical sermons (expository for those who prefer that term- I sometimes don’t use that term because it carries negative connotations. For some expository means “boring” and “not relevant.” I would argue simply that if that’s the case, you haven’t heart good Biblical teaching) every week. Phenomenal preacher.

I enjoyed reading his sermon on Homosexuality because he had the guts to do two things:

  1. Talk about the fact that homosexuality, like all sins, is not’s God’s plan.
  2. Talk about the fact that God’s grace accepts people as they are, but transforms us from the inside out. I quote:

 Grace means that people who struggle with same sex desires are welcome to come to God, just as
they are. God doesn’t ask you to or expect you to straighten out your confusion or overcome your
tendencies first. Just come to Him, in the name of His Son, Jesus

Grace means that sexual offenders can be forgiven, whatever that offense has been. Jesus Christ
received in himself the penalty of that sin, so that you don’t have to be punished for it.

Grace means that you can be healed of your sexual wounded-ness, whether it was inflicted on you
by others, or you brought it on yourself. It doesn’t have to haunt your heart and relationships for the rest
of your life.

Grace means that you can overcome whatever distorted, destructive desires and habits that have
been robbing you of real joy and fulfillment. It will take time, and teaching, and practice, and support,
and probably even failure. But you can overcome it, you can be free from it’s mastery over you, with
God’s help.

Grace means that God can change you, transform you, from the inside out. He can enable you to
embrace the sexual identity God has given you, and help you discover healthy, happy, and honorable
relationships with people of the same and opposite sex. It also means that He can so transform you that
you can discover romantic relationships with people of the opposite sex, and even marriage. Not every
homosexual person experiences that complete transformation, but many do, and many are on the way.

Shout out to Bryan.

I touched on this issue a few years back in an article on the web site and took a little heat from it. It’s ironic. I divided the issues, talking about 1. The fact that it’s wrong  2. The fact that we as a church have been responding poorly for years and need to respond like Christ would have responded.

I took heat for both.

I stand by both.

Dare 2 Share’s Greg Stier just spoke at the YS NYWC and made a statement about homosexuality being wrong (the same story he shared in our podcast #3), and he took heat for that. But he still stands by it.

Good for Greg.

Frankly, I think we should always take heat for two things- in this order: 1. Being extra loving and gracious. 2. Choosing to do right, when the world offers us other alternatives.

It’ sad. For years as a church we’ve failed miserably in the area of grace. We’ve been inconsistant, hypocritical and dare I say “hateful” to homosexuals when they are just fellow strugglers. In other words, some of the Christians who are out picketing homosexuals are gossips, cheats, or secretly addicted to porn.

So now the church feels guilty, and instead of changing our attitude of Grace… we’re changing our theology about Homosexuality and saying it’s okay now… after all, that’s more politically correct.

Unfortunately it’s not right.

God’s standard will never cease. And thank goodness, neither will his Grace!

 Don’t forget to love the sinner… you are one!

MySpace Caves

Posted on: 01/16/08 9:10 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s all over the news… top stories on many newspapers. MySpace is finally caving and saying, “All right, All right… we do need to make some changes!”

I saw this article in my paper yesterday. CNN has one too. Still left a lot of questions. Like how will they really be able to “strenghen software to find underage users?” I would love that… but I’m skeptical.

Anastasia at YPULSE went into much greater detail about it… answered a few of the questions. She is updating some of the feedback from her questions already. For example, she notes that even though MySpace is going to default that 16 and 17 year olds profiles will be set to private, they can go in and change them back to public.

Another interesting fact is that adults can never add people under 16 unless they know their email or last name. I think that is a VERY GOOD thing. No complaints from me on that one.

NEW INFO: YPULSE’s Anastasia just linked another article on her recent post that talks about a hole in MySpace’s architecture that allows anyone who’s interested to see the photographs of some users with private profiles — including those under 16 — despite assurances from MySpace that those pictures can only be seen by people on a user’s friends list. WOW. And now that is fixed.

But MySpace is trying to make changes.

Marko, in his blog raised the question, “I wonder how this will effect youth ministry?” Good question. I don’t think this particular change (adults not being able to add kids under 16 without knowing their email) won’t effect it at all. As a youth worker, I only would be contacting the kids I know anyway. So the only kids I would add would be kids who I already know thier email, last name, dog’s name, address, girlfriend’s name, etc.

My two cents as a parent. Myspace has to make some serious strides before I’m confortable letting my kids on it. Not necessarily because of safety… but simply because of the smutty pictures. My 14 year old boy doesn’t need to be dodging pictures of girls in thongs as he browses the web.

A parent walked up to me after a parent seminar I did in PA last Sunday and asked me, “I finally gave in and just let my 13 year old son on MySpace last week. Was that a mistake?” I told her this:

“That’s a decision only you can make. But two things: 1. You have to be 14 to even be on MySpace. So your son had to lie to get a membership. You have to ask yourself if that’s okay. (I didn’t tell her, “Is that okay when you’re going to the movies too? How about on our taxes… is it okay to lie there too?”)

2. I give you this challenge. Go onto Myspace and start clicking around on people’s pictures. Click from one kid to another at your kid’s school. Click several degrees of seperation… because maybe your son’s inner circle of friends are really cool kids. But click a couple degrees of separation from there. Then, be savy like a 13 year old boy would be. Go to the browse section. That button alone will probably be as far as you need to click to find smut. But… if you want to be like many boys, from browse, do an advanced search. Note that you can search for a certain ‘orientation,’ like a bi-sexual. Try searching for bi-sexuals in your area that are on MySpace looking for a relationship. See what you find.”

Then I left her this challange. “If you can click around for 1 minute without seeing a picture of a girl in a thong, then I’ll give you $5!”

That’s $5 I’ll never have to pay. (and yes, my kids aren’t on MySpace)

why age 12 – 34?

Posted on: 01/15/08 3:39 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last weekend I was training in Hershey, PA at a large EV FREE church- a fun group of people. In the training, I was sharing some statistics about MTV and mentioned their target audience of 12-34 year olds.

Interesting- a very cool guy that worked for Hershey (yes, in the city of Hershey, PA there are an abundance of Hershey employees. They even gave me chocolate!) was talking to me about why MTV uses age 12 as their starting point. This guy works in the marketing department at Hershey and he said that anything marketed to anyone under 12 qualifies as being marketed to kids (as in “little kids”). He said that once you market to kids (under 12), the government gets really involved, checking safety, etc. (he hinted that it was really a pain to deal with)

It’s interesting, because MTV doesn’t hesitate to show blatent sexual situations, violence (Jackass), bad attitudes… you name it. (I don’t have to give examples… just turn the channel on at random… you’ll see). My guess is that if they admitted that their target audience was under 12, then the government could possibly intervene. Let’s put it this way. If Hershey is told that they have to be careful how they advertise Reeses Puffs cereal because kids might assume they’re healthy… imagine the scrutiny that MTV might have to subject themselves to for their typical broadcasts.

Hmmmmmmmm.

Googling Your Name

Posted on: 01/11/08 8:42 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Have you ever googled your own name?

I was searching for one of my new books (to see how GROUP was marketing it) and I ended up googling my name. When I did, I stumbled across an old interview I did that I couldn’t even remember. It was pretty funny reading my answers. Is it bad to laugh at your own jokes from two years prior?  (yeah, probably so)

It’s pretty short- here’s what I said:

It is a very refreshing pleasure to welcome Jonathan McKee to our studio today. I always look forward to reading Jonathan’s powerful, youth focused, eZine which is published by his outstanding organization, The Source for Youth Ministry.

What is the name of your company and what products or services does it provide?
We are www.TheSourceforYouthMinistry.com

We love impacting the lives of kids around the world. And one of the best ways we found to do that is by equipping youth workers who are working with these kids. So our ministry’s goal is threefold: Speaking to kids, Training student and adult leaders, and Providing Free Resources on our web site.

What role do you play in your organization?
I am the president, founder, janitor and best boy.

As a successful person, how did you get started?
I started on the front lines as a youth worker. I was a volunteer in the church, then I worked with Youth for Christ reaching “unchurched” kids for almost 10 years. When I looked on the web for some free resources, I found few . . . almost none. I thought, “What a shame. I have a whole file cabinet full of curriculum and ideas that I’ve developed over the years. Why don’t people share these things?” So I did. And the web site was a hit. So we started doing it full time.

How did you learn what it takes to succeed?
By God’s grace. Actually, I’ve learned about 100 ways how NOT to succeed over the last decade. But slowly, I’m learning a few things that work in youth ministry. And I’m trying to share those ideas with as many people as possible.

What personal/family activities do you enjoy?
I love just hanging out with my family . . . my wife Lori, and my three kids, Alec, Alyssa and Ashley. They’re awesome. We like family bike rides, back pack trips . . . or just piling on the coach with popcorn and a movie.

What experiences in your life have helped you expand who you are as a person?
Eating Pizza! Pizza has made me the man I am!

But I guess I’d also say working with kids on campus. Kids across the globe are hurting and looking for someone to notice them. As I spent years on campus meeting kids and investing time into their lives . . . my life was changed. God used me to share his love with kids. And there’s no greater joy than being used by God to make a difference.

What are your concerns about the world today?
MTV. Have you seen that crap?

Are there any tips or advice you would like to offer people?
Yeah . . . don’t swing your 5 year old around in circles after she just finished eating a spaghetti dinner.

And don’t ever stop learning. The successful people I know are teachable. When I meet a guy who “knows all the answers” . . . I meet someone who’s reached their limit. Go into every situation trying to learn something. Everyone has something to offer. (yes, some less than others)

Which people have been role models to you?
Ray Johnston, Jim Burns, Chap Clark . . . and Napoleon Dynamite.

What are your favorite books, computer programs, or forms of entertainment?
My top 10 favorite books are listed on my web site on the left hand side bar: www.TheSource4YM.com. My least favorite computer program is Microsoft Word because it can spell and format better than me. My favorite entertainment has to be movies. I’m sort of a movie fanatic. But everyone knows that from my movie review page: www.thesource4ym.com/moviereviews

What is it that you are most passionate about or gives you the greatest enjoyment in life?
My 7 year old came home from church the other day and told me how she really wants to trust God with her actions. I asked her if that meant that she would stop talking about how the cat’s butt rises when you pet it. She agreed.

The greatest joy in my life is when I see my own kids following Christ. I love it when I see “a light go on” during a family devotions time or when I see my son put $5 out of his pocket to give to a homeless person on the street. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I was right. It doesn’t get better than that.

Fun little glimpse into the past.

Once

Posted on: 01/9/08 8:56 PM | by Jonathan McKee

The other night Lori and I rented a film that Marko recommended as one of his favorites of 2007. The film is called ONCE and it is described as a “modern day musical.”

I didn’t have any idea of what to expect… and to be honest… during the first few minutes I was wondering what the heck I had got myself into.

In the first few minutes I realized:

  1. This is a low budget independent film. Not always a bad thing, but often it can be.
  2. The film makers are trying what looks like a “documentry” style of shooting. Again, not always bad, but it can be.
  3. We’re going to see a lot of singing… so we better like what we hear.

Within a few minutes I didn’t know what to think. Lori and I looked at each other and both decided we wanted to give it more time.

By 20 minutes we were hooked.

So I’ll say this: give it at least 20 minutes.

Long story short- I REALLY enjoyed this. Lori and I both found ourselves humming some of the songs the next day. Heck, I just bought the sound track

This film won’t be for everyone. It’s a little artsy, and if you don’t like music, you probably won’t like it. Just give it 20 minutes. 20 minutes will tell.

2 negatives:

  1. The film wanders into the realm of adultery… it never goes there… but it flirts with it.
  2. The film was shot across the pond where people seem to rattle off the “f” word like they’re from Boston. So you have to have an “f” word tolerence. Film is clean aside from that.

Give it a try.

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