Lost a friend

Youth Ministry lost a good friend this past weekend. My friend Rob Maxey, Executive Director of Youth for Christ here in Sacramento passed away Friday after a long battle with cancer.

Even if you didn’t have the pleasure of meeting Rob, many of you actually knew him by reputation. Rob is the friend I featured in my book CONNECT who literally taught me how to talk with kids on campus (the guy who said, “Hi, I’m his parole officer”). Rob is the friend whose stories I’ve used at countless youth ministry trainings and parent workshops because of his amazing grasp on how to connect with today’s young people.

The first time I met Rob I worked for Youth for Christ and knew him as “the crazy guy who paid us over $1,000” because he brought over 100 kids to our youth event and foot the bill himself. Rob was just a volunteer for the junior high ministry at his church and had told his entire youth group, “Bring your friends and they come for free!” Over 100 young people showed up, and Rob had to frantically recruit drivers as parents were dropping kids off.

Rob had an inherent knack for reaching kids no one else reached. He built a barn next to his property because kids in his neighborhood had nowhere to hang out. The barn brought out literally hundreds of kids each week.

But Rob didn’t just bring kids in… he went to them. He showed up on campus during lunch, after school, at summer school… you name it. Once he was on campus talking with a bunch of kids he knew and a new kid walked up. One of the kids introduced the new kid to Rob, “This is the guy I was telling you about,” pointing to Rob, “He really loves us.” The new kid whipped out his phone and took down Rob’s number, saying, “I’ll put you under ‘HELP’ because that way I’ll remember where to find you.”

Rob was a reflection of Jesus to most who met him.

Last summer my daughter Ashley interned for Rob at Youth for Christ and the experience was life changing. In the last decade Rob had transitioned from youth ministry volunteer to Campus Ministry director to Executive Director. But most kids knew him as the guy who was there when nobody else was.

He was a visionary, a leader… and most of all he was a friend.

Rob was married and raised two amazing boys. They knew this day was coming… but mourn his absence more than most of us will ever know.

Please pray for Rob’s friends, family and ministry.

Life won’t be the same without him.

Love you Rob!!!

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Men really hate solitude

This week as I read about Jesus’ final hours, I can’t help but notice how often He went alone for some time of solitude to pray.

Men hate getting alone to just be quiet!

I think you’ll be surprised to discover exactly how much they hate it.

I’m co-writing a book right now with my friend Curt Steinhorst about capturing attention in a world full of distractions, and we devote an entire chapter to finding solitude, turning off the noise and actually allowing ourselves to process.

Men don’t do this naturally.

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When Teens Doubt

It’s sad, but I hear it more and more each year.

Every weekend at my parent workshops I get at least one question about it… and I constantly receive emails asking the same thing:

What do I do when my teenager tells me they don’t believe in God?

Here’s an email I just received:

Jonathan,

Thank you for all the wonderful ideas and advice! We are taking it all to heart in raising our teens. The question I have is, how do you apply these strategies in your book with a 16 year old who has decided she doesn’t believe in God the way you’ve taught her? She is not going to have the same moral compass you’re wanting her to make decisions from . . .

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Where kids actually adopt their values

“My 16-year-old wants Instagram and I won’t let her have it. Is that bad?”

It was an honest question from a mom after one of my recent parent workshops.

“Why don’t you let her have Instagram?”I asked.

“Well… it’s social media, and that’s bad… right?” She replied indecisively.

“When she’s 18 and she goes off to college, do you think she’ll get it?”

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Posted in Faith, Jonathan's Rant, Parenting, Smartphones/Cell Phones, Social Media | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

face to face and hashtag evangelism

A live evangelism training that will create Gospel conversations both in person and on social media?

Yeah… God can absolutely pull that off, and no better person to work through than Greg Stier.

If you’ve been in youth ministry more than a minute, than you probably have seen Greg’s training videos, or heard him teach either at venues like the National Youth Workers Convention or at one of his Dare 2 Share events to a stadium full of teenagers passionate about sharing their faith. Greg is all about sharing the good new of Jesus and equipping other to do it.

And so am I. That’s why I’m super excited about the potential of

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A remarkable man

Last weekend I encountered a man so remarkable, the experience was life changing.

I didn’t expect it. I was visiting Maui by myself for the quickest trip to the island I’ve ever had, there and back in just a weekend for a friend’s wedding (not the choice way to do Maui). The ceremony was ocean-side in the beautiful Kahanu Gardens in Hana, a truly precarious drive, but breathtaking scenery.

As we were waiting for the ceremony to begin… this man caught my eye.

He was Hawaiian with a chiseled jaw, a tribal tattoo on his left cheek, and his grey hair pulled back tightly into a bun. He was probably one of the eldest people at the wedding, but no doubt one of the most physically strong. He was perfectly composed

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Porn in plain sight

We’ve all been in the grocery store line at one time or another where we glanced to our peripheral only to see provocative images and headlines paraded across the front of a magazine cover. Of course, now these same periodicals offer online versions as well, clickable from frequented locations like Snapchat (the overwhelming favorite communication choice of young people today, by a landslide).

Do you think your kids ever peek at these?

I asked a handful of kids last week. “When you’re browsing Snap stories and you see an interesting Cosmo or Daily Mail headline… do you click on it?”

Every kid I asked said yes.

Do you have any idea what your teens and tweens are reading?

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Posted in Parenting, Sexuality, Smartphones/Cell Phones, Social Media, Youth Culture | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The rise of the non-believing Millennial

What do you think of when you hear the word “Christian”?

How do think most college kids would answer if you asked them that question on a University campus?

A couple weeks ago Chance the Rapper burst into Christian worship at the Grammys… and people didn’t know exactly how to respond. It honestly seemed out of place to see Christ glorified in a setting where He is typically ignored… even shunned.

If you watch any TV these days, it’s rare to see faith or religion thrown into the mix. Sadly, if it is, it’s often in gest, particularly portraying Christians as hypocritical or judgmental. If TV was the mirror of our society, then the majority of our population would probably be

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Social media making kids less “social”

My friend Ryan brought this YouTube video to my attention… a creative insight into how social media is making us less “social.” It’s super short, incredibly insightful… and guarantied to provoke conversation.

Here’s the video and some followup questions to engage in meaningful conversation with your kids:

Questions you could ask

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Posted in Discussion Ideas, Entertainment Media, Internet, Smartphones/Cell Phones, Social Media, Youth Culture | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Engaging kids in conversations about “Stranger Things”

I’m loving this new Netflix Discussion page!

Yeah! Using Stranger Things to discuss Luke Chapter 11. Whodathunkit?

A few months ago we announced a brand new resource on our TheSource4Parents.com page … our brand new Netflix Discussions page. The page gives parents ideas for dialoguing about what they watch with their kids on Netflix.

No, we don’t expect moms and dads to sit their kids down and

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