Students and Culture Interview

I was interviewed recently on the Students and Culture podcast… some of you might have wanted an opportunity to peek in on that interview. For those that don’t have the time to listen to it, I’ve provided some of the highlights of it transcripted below.

Fun conversation. I start by giving a brief (60 second) history of THE SOURCE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY and how it came to be (by accident, actually). Then we chatted about churches reaching beyond their church walls… then I answered the following questions:

  – What is the best thing student groups can do to have return visitors?

  – If you only had one lesson left to teach a group of students, what would you teach and why?

  – What are some of the best ways to gain the trust of new unchurched students?

  – In your book “Connect” you talk a lot about getting to know kids on a one-on-one basis. Do you believe it’s possible to become so connected with students that they see you more as a peer and you lose your influence in their lives?

  – How can we equip and train our youth to witness and share the gospel with nonbelievers in their everyday lives?

You can listen to the podcast here on the Students and Culture website, or if you would prefer to just read the highlights, here’s a snippet of what I answered to those questions:

Jason – OK asked:
-What is the best thing student groups can do to have return visitors?

JONATHAN’S ANSWER:
First- this question assumes that people are actually visiting! An aside… I think we need to be proactive to think of outreach as reaching more than those who actually DO show up. But yes, let’s definitely try to KEEP the ones that actually DO show up.

Last year a church brought me in to train their student leaders, but I first got an opportunity to attend their morning youth service. The first thing I did was simply sit in the back of the room and observe. I especially paid attention to “the door.” I tell youth workers this all the time. If you ever get a chance to just take a week where you can just sit in the back and watch the door– you’ll learn a lot. It’s fun to watch kids come in and look around. You can almost see what they’re thinking. “Where do I go? Are any of my friends here?” Sometimes, after a moments hesitation, you’ll actually see kids turn around a leave.”

What are we doing to make people think, “I belong!” I’m welcome here. I’m safe.

In my new book MINISTRY BY TEENAGERS, David gives an example of a youth ministry that decided to be proactive about making new kids feel like they belong. They did this with colored name tags, of all thing…  our book is full of ideas to do just that.

Noah – KY
– If you only had one lesson left to teach a group of students, what would you teach and why?

JONATHAN’S ANSWER:
It depends on the students I’m talking to. I know that might sound like a copout answer, but I just need to at least know who I’m talking to. For example, am I speaking to a bunch of unchurched kids on campus? Or am I speaking at a Christian camp?

ON CAMPUS- I think I’d give them a talk that basically address the feeling we all get when we’ve tried to find fulfillment in all the temporary thrills of life, and when they don’t work, we finally proclaim, “There’s gotta be more than this!!” Basically, I speak to them about the unfulfilling temporary vs. the permanent love of God that comes through knowing Jesus Christ in a personal relationship.That passage so accurately describes the lies of this world, “lies that sound like the truth.”

AT A CAMP- I’d probably talk about the importance of letting God sit in the driver’s seat of our life- and what that actually looks like. I’m speaking in layman’s terms here. This is actually a lesson on how we need to give the Holy Spirit control. How the fruits of the spirit are not things we are to “TRY” to do, but qualities that flow from us when we let the Spirit in our life- when we “let God drive.” When we let him control the radio… you get the idea.

Noah – KY asked a second question:
– What do you see as the biggest deterrent to spiritual growth in today’s teens?

JONATHAN’S ANSWER:
We allow ourselves to be distracted by the world’s lies. In Ephesians, Paul talks about what it will be like when we mature in Christ. He says…

Ephesians 4:14-15 (NLT)
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth.
15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church

We get comfy like David (II Samuel 11) did when he decided to give in to laziness- sleep in while his men were fighting. Give into lust- and turn on late night cable tv- women bathing- great view from the rooftops. Feed those desires- invite her over. Give into adultery. Sleep with her. Give into deception- plan a coverup where it looks like Uriah got her pregnant. And finally… commit murder.

I’ll post the rest of it in my next blog.

You can listen to the entire interview here.

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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This entry was posted in Discussion Ideas, Faith, Speaking/Training, Youth Ministry Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Students and Culture Interview

  1. Brooks F says:

    I definitely struggle with making all the kids feel welcome in our ministry. I’m going to take a look at picking up that book on Ministry by Teenagers.