Family Dinners Worth It

Posted on: 10/13/09 1:41 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Do you know that 65 percent of teenagers and 75 percent of parents say they would be willing to give up a weeknight activity if it meant they could have dinner with their family?

Do you know that those teenager who have fewer than three family dinners per week are one and a half times likelier to report getting mostly C’s or lower grades in school; and teens who report these grades are likelier to smoke, drink and use drugs?

Start cooking! Because the September 2009 report about The Importance of Family Dinners (a downloadable PDF)¬†was just released from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse… and it’s yet another credible source encouraging parents to simply spend time with their kids!

Every Sunday that I’m in town, I do a 5 minute “Youth Culture Window” at my church in our parent fellowship group (made up of 50 to 100 parents). It’s easy, because I usually just steal from our web site’s Youth Culture Window article for that week. ūüôā¬† (a great source to steal from!)

Funny, it seems like my closing always ends the same. Regardless of the subject, I always wrap it up by saying something like this: “So keep having conversations with your kids.” or “Keep dialoguing with your kids about this.” or “This is a great discussion you can have with your kids.”

Each year research sprouts more good news about the benefits of parents devoting time talking with their kids. As a matter of fact, in this week’s Youth Culture Window article, linked in the big magnifying glass on the front page of our website, David brings us some more encouraging news for parents from his personal interview with Jessica Sheets, the spokesperson of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

The message is clear. “Spend time with your kids.” We’ve seen articles that talk about what happens when parents aren’t involved in their kids’ lives, and then we’ve seen encouraging articles that talk about the huge impact parents do make, and that kids are happiest spending time with family.

So spread the word. Family dinners are worth the effort.

For those of you that are intrigued by all this research- dive into¬†that¬†Family Dinners Report, you’ll find all kinds of interesting data- including how many kids who have family dinners are more likely to attend religious services weekly, and how many of those kids will try cigarettes, marijuana and alcohol compared to those who don’t attend services (page 14 of the report). Interesting stuff!

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A Silent Junior High Room

Posted on: 10/12/09 10:23 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’ve never heard 35 junior high students be so quiet.

Some of you might know, I volunteer at my church working with the junior high group midweek. This is fun for me. My youngest daughter is in the group and¬†being involved¬†keeps me¬†“hands-on” with kids on a regular basis since the focus of my ministry is speaking, training and¬†writing right now.

Last Wednesday night I saw something I rarely see in a junior high room- complete silence.

Chris, a 20-something volunteer in the ministry began having seizures a few months ago. There was all kinds of speculation as to the cause, but the seizures keep coming.

Last week he had one again and the doctors want him to come in for a battery of tests- the result might be brain surgery.

We announced this to the junior high students on Wednesday night. They all know Chris, he had just been tagging a bunch of them with dodgeballs the week prior. The students were really receptive. Kevin, the youth pastor asked that we just stop and pray. He asked someone to open and another to close, then opened it up to anyone who wanted to pray.

The time to follow was amazing. 6th, 7th and 8th graders, many who never have the guts to pray out loud amongst their peers, all began praying for Chris.

I wish you all could have heard these precious prayers. Far from articulate, some very repetitive, but all very authentic and sincere.

You could have heard a pin drop. I’ve never heard junior highers quiet for this long. None of them seemed restless or in a hurry. They simply brought their requests before God in a very real way.

It was an amazing experience.

If you think of it, please pray for Chris today. He’s at a hospital in Oakland going through tests all day.

Britney’s New Hit about a “Threesome” Jumps to Number One

Posted on: 10/8/09 7:34 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Ooops… she did it again.

Britney has discovered the secret to releasing number one songs- over-the-top sexuality!

On September 29th Britney released a new single called “3” … a song about a m√©nage a trios. Here’s a glimpse of the lyrics:

Merrier the more
Triple fun that way
Twister on the floor
What do you say?

Are – you in
Livin’ in sin is the new thing (yeah)
Are – you in
I am countin’!

1, 2, 3
Not only you and me
Got one eighty degrees
And I’m caught in between
Countin’
1, 2, 3

You can read all the lyrics here on BritneySpears.com.

The song isn’t even 10 days old and it’s already the number one downloaded song on iTunes. If you’re curious what people think of this song, jump on iTunes and read some of the comments from listeners like, “it’s fun, catchy, and filled with playful lyrics about having a threesome- what more could you want?!”

Billboard reported that the song was part of the “Britney Spears The Singles Collection,” a hit compilation due Nov. 24 on Jive.

Produced by Swedish hitmaker Max Martin (Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson), “3” finds Spears singing about the racy subject of a m√©nage a trios with her signature coy delivery. “Three is a charm, two is not the same,” Spears coos seductively on the verse. “I don’t see the harm, so are you game?”

Hmmmmm. “I don’t see the harm, so are you game?” (This is the mindset¬†I¬†was just talking about¬†out of Spears and other celebs¬†in my Gaga article– point #3, ironically, at the bottom of the article)

I almost wonder if this song will slip under the radar again like so many pop songs do, with little tweens singing “1, 2, 3…” and their parents won’t have a clue what they’re singing (Just like If You Seek Amy and the Superman dance). Teenagers, on the other hand,¬†definitely know what she’s singing about. They just don’t admit that the lyrics DO affect them.

(shout out to Haley with Campus Life for the heads up!)

Youth MiniStarZ

Posted on: 10/7/09 9:04 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… I’ve seen a few youtube videos floating around about youth ministry…

…but this is by far one of the funnier I’ve seen.

If you’re not in youth ministry, you might not find this funny. I’m not sure if this guy is in youth ministry (I peeked at some of his other videos… hmmmmm), but he KNOWS youth ministry.

Hilarious!

¬†(Click here to see the video¬†if you don’t see the video link above)

… and, yes,¬†it’s true about our wives!!!

(ht to John for the link)

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The “Fiddy Cent” Bible

Posted on: 10/5/09 4:57 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Not to be confused with a Bible that only is half a dollar… this “Bible” is a collection of self reliance advice from successful rapper Fiddy Cent. (now forever knows as “50”)

It’s always intriguing to peek at the philosophies that our kids hear from their heroes today. I think you’ll find some of 50’s advice… well… interesting.

Fast Company Magazine¬†provides a little slideshow¬†giving you a glimpse of¬†this new book, a collaboration between 50 and author Robert Greene. 50 was a fan of Green’s 2000 book, The 48 Laws of Power. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson¬†credits Green’s book for his success- 50 was named the #1 earning Hip-Hop Cash King by Forbes in 2008. Green and 50 worked together this time¬†to create The 50th Law- the 50 Cent Bible.

Here’s some of the advice you’ll find from 50.

“Lead from the front”

“Reality is my drug. The more I have of it, the more power I get and the higher I feel.”

“Make everything your own- self reliance”

“I was born alone and I will die alone. I’ve got to do what is right for me and not live my life the way anybody else wants it.”

“The public is never wrong”

“When I nearly died, it made me think- this can happen again any second. I better hurry and do what I want.”

If your kids are fans of 50, here’s a fun exercise. Don’t over-react, instead, use this as an opportunity to teach your kids to¬†evaluate philosophies like this (they’ll get plenty of this when they’re out on their own!), comparing them with Biblical truth. Place 50’s advice parallel with corresponding Biblical advice- compare and contrast. For example. Take¬†50’s “Lead from the front” and compare it with Jesus’¬†model of servant leadership and¬†“The first shall be last” philosophy.”

Don’t rip on 50’s philosophies… just ask questions.

“What is good about this advice?”

“What might be dangerous about this advice?”

“How does this advice differ from Biblical advice?”

“Which is right?”

5 Ideas You Can Use

Posted on: 10/3/09 7:31 AM | by Jonathan McKee

This is fun… five free ideas¬†youth workers¬†can stick into their¬†back pocket when planning time is short.

Last week while at the National Youth Workers Convention, Adam McLane was filming snippets for the YS (Youth Specialties) blog. They are going to be featuring different speakers and authors, so Adam asked me to share some “back pocket ideas”¬†that youth workers could use!

The video is up! This is what I came up with… take a peek. Five Ideas in Five Minutes (well… more like six and a half minutes!)

Fun stuff!

Lady Gaga’s Shift to #1

Posted on: 10/1/09 8:51 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I like to keep my eyes on the music charts, and doing that, I occasionally notice large shifts triggered by big media events.

I would propose that these shifts can tell us a little about the power of certain media events, like the Teen Choice Awards or the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs).

For example. If you got to MTV.com today and look at their list of Top Artists, you’ll notice that Lady Gaga is #1. This is relatively new. For most of 2009, Lil Wayne has occupied that slot.

Do you know when that changed?

Lady Gaga jumped to the¬†#1¬†spot the Monday after the MTV VMAs (my writeup about that show here). TV audiences must have loved her bizarre outfits, her¬†blood-soaked finally to her¬†song Paparazzi (which¬†soared up the charts¬†on iTunes the next day), and her articulate acceptance speech (“This is for my CENSORED fans! … and it’s for God and for gays!”)

I’ve been watching Gaga’s reign to see how long it would last. We’ll see… but as of today, she still sits on the MTV “Top Artist” throne.

MTV’s VMA’s yield quite a lot of power to affect the charts that instantaneously.

Another blip on the charts occurred the night after the Teen Choice Awards, August 10th. Until that night, the Black Eyed Peas occupied the number one spot with their song, I Gotta Feeling (the song that our kids will tell us is clean… but is it?) But the day after the Teen Choice Awards, Miley’s song¬†Party in the USA was on top of iTunes, and eventually Billboard’s Hot 100. I guess her¬†sexy little escapades that night¬†paid off.

Don’t be fooled; TV still has a lot of influence over pop culture.

Keep your eyes on MTV.com’s top artist list. Pop on iTunes and see what the most downloaded songs are. Jump on Billboard.com and see what’s on the Hot 100 (usually very close to the iTunes Top 10). If you have no idea what the song is, use iTunes and click on the song for a 30 second preview. Google the video and take a peek for yourself. Google the lyrics and see what these artists are actually saying.

A 10 minute search just once a month can keep you aware of some of the content our kids are absorbing day to day.