A Christmas Message You Can Use

Posted on: 12/6/18 3:32 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Looking for a Christmas message you can use?

Here’s a talk I  wrote about the many “distractions” the world dangles in front of us during the Christmas season… so much that we lose sight of Christ!

I begin the talk showing the top gifts teens have put on their Amazon wish list this Christmas… every single one of them has to do with screens or tech.

Here’s the message, along with some small group questions! Enjoy! (Download Youth Ministry -DYM- did an AMAZING job making professional slides for this talk available HERE for just a few bucks.)

Missing Jesus
The only thing we’re lacking this Christmas is Jesus
A talk from Jonathan McKee

TEASER: In a world full of delightful distractions, it’s a little too easy to forget Jesus this Christmas

INTRODUCTION: Show slides of the top gift ideas for today’s teenagers according to Amazon wish lists.

I always find it interesting to see what young people want for Christmas. Here’s some of the top gifts teenagers have put on their Amazon wish lists this year for Christmas.  (Show slides of Amazon gifts today’s kids want)

Wow… those are just some of the top gifts today. I guess a Red-Rider BB gun is a thing of the past. No G.I. Joe with the kung fu grip?

When I was a kid I wanted… share personal story about what you wanted.

Well… I love Christmas. Christmas decorations, turkey, family… Share personal story why you love Christmas so much… and one of the decorations you see every Christmas is the Nativity scene—a display of some sort representing the original Christmas and the birth of Jesus. Some stores even sell these Nativity scenes.

Here’s one that was on discount last year. Show slide of Nativity with missing Jesus.

Sadly, this is probably a true representation of what Christmas is becoming in our world, a celebration that is missing the very object of celebration. It’s like we are all so caught up in Christmas “stuff”… we’re forgetting the whole reason we’re celebrating in the first place.

Don’t worry… you’re not alone. This is a common struggle. In fact, it happened to Jesus two thousand years ago to his face when two sisters invited him over for dinner.

SCRIPTURE:
Open your bible to Luke 10 starting in verse 38.

Jesus Visits Martha and Mary
38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distractedby the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” (Luke 10: 38-40, NLT, emphasis mine)

Let’s pause right there.

But Martha became distracted.

Is there anything wrong with cooking? Anything wrong with having someone over for dinner? Then what did she do wrong? She allowed her serving and prep to draw her away from the peace of just hanging out with Jesus. In addition she allowed her cooking and cleaning to become a source of bitterness and resentment between her and her sister.

Think about this. Mary and Martha wanted to get to know Jesus. They thought, “I know, let’s invite him over for a meal!” Martha was a great cook, so why not use her skills, her gift of hospitality to connect with Jesus.

Funny… her very strength—cooking and hospitality—became a distraction. The very festivities planned to celebrate Jesus coming to connect with them distracted her from connecting with Jesus.

Kinda like Christmas.

When do you allow good stuff to become a distraction in your life?

Do you think we can relate to the word “distracted” today? In a world where young people spend an average of 9 hours a daysoaking in entertainment media, and parents spend over 9 hours a day?

All this in on that device that we carry around in our pockets. The average adult is only awake 16 hours a day. Do the math. This doesn’t leave a whole lot of time to walk the dog, get coffee with a friend… or play with your children!

We are distracted. Picture what this looks like in the typical home: the adults are staring at the TV, the kids are streaming something on a mobile device, the toddler is flicking colors across the screen of her new iPad… and the dog is on the treadmill because no one will walk him!

Our devices definitely can distract us. Ask this lady. Show video of lady falling in fountain.

A brand new studyrevealed:

  • 57% of teens know that social media distracts them from doing homework
  • 54% say social media keeps them from interacting with the people in front of them
  • 42% believe social media has reduced the amount of time they spend with friends in person

Isn’t it funny that a device designed to connect us with others can disconnect?

Isn’t it sad that a holiday designed to celebrate the coming of Jesus now distracts us from connecting with Jesus?

Pause for a moment. Answer this question in your mind:  Sometimes I allow _______ to become a distraction in my life.

SAY BIG IDEA:In a world overflowing with distractions and connections… there is only one connection worth our concern.

So what does Jesus say? What does Jesus feel about this distraction in our life?

Let’s read the rest of this passage.

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thingworth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”(Luke 10: 38-40, NLT, emphasis mine)

Don’t worry over all these details. She got so caught up in the details she missed the main event!

Sample story: Share personal story of when you became distracted and missed something important. 

I remember a time when my daughter was at her soccer game and I was taking pictures of her with my iPhone. Of course, I was looking for the perfect moment, so that took a while, and when I finally did capture a pretty good picture, I then decided it would be cool to post it on Insta. So you know how that goes. I framed it perfectly, found the perfect filter—couldn’t decide between Ludwig or Perpetua. Then of course I had to add the perfect caption. While I’m busy doing this, face buried in my screen, my daughter dribbles down the field, makes an amazing cross and her team scores. The crowd yells and I look up asking, “Huh? What?” Of course later she comes up and asks me, “Dad, did you see my assist?” Nice! Huh?

I went there to watch my daughter play, to support her in something she likes. And even though taking her picture might be something fun and a great way to record the event, I allowed it to interfere with my whole purpose for being there in the first place!

Martha allowed her work to become her “one thing” instead of the “one thing” Jesus offers us.

What is the “one thing” Jesus wants us to focus on? After all he tells Martha:

“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thingworth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What “one thing” did Mary find while just sitting and talking with Jesus?

Here’s where this story is so relevant to us today, especially during Christmas. Jesus came down to earth for one reason, to be with us. Think of the Christmas word we hear all the time, the name of Jesus, “Emmanuel.” That name literally means God is with us. God wants a relationship with us so bad that he became flesh, he became human and dwelt among us in the person of Jesus. The funny thing is, we do the exact same thing Mary and Martha did. We invite him into our lives. Then some of us connect with him and talk with him. But some of us allow so many things to distract us, that even if we had good intentions to connect with Him, we allow the distractions to get in the way.

Jesus’ words to Martha are basically, “Martha, Martha… you’re so busy and distracted with all these preparations. Sit down, order pizza. Let’s just spend time together. That’s the one thing you should be doing.”

Are you spending time connecting with Jesus this season?

OPTIONAL EXAMPLE:
In Philippians 3:13-14 Paul gives us a glimpse of what this “one thing” is in his life:

13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. (Philippians 3:13-14, NLT, emphasis mine)

What is distracting you from the “one thing” God has for you, the joy and peace- that prizethat comes from putting our trust in him daily?

What distractions might you need to trim out of your life so God has room to grow?

REPEAT BIG IDEA:In a world overflowing with distractions and connections… there is only one connection worth our concern.

SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS:

  1. What is your favorite part of the Christmas season?
  2. Why do you think it’s becoming easier to forget Jesus during the Christmas season?
  3. What did Martha allow to distract her from connecting with Jesus? How did Jesus respond to her?
  4. What might you be allowing to distract you from connecting with Jesus?
  5. Is there something you could do to avoid this distraction?
  6. How can you seek out Jesus during this Christmas season?

IF YOU WANT SLIDES TO GO ALONG WITH THIS TALK, DYM HAS THEM FOR ONLY $4, OR ONLY $3 FOR BRONZE MEMBERS

Broke 1000

Posted on: 11/26/18 5:00 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Amazed once again at how good God is… last weekend Black Friday shoppers loaded up on my Guy’s Guide to God, Girls, and the Phone in Your Pocket. The book was ranked 924 of ALL BOOKS on Amazon through the weekend.

Not bad at all for a Christian book to teen guys!

It’s funny, this is the book that parents keep buying and when I read the reviews, the common consensus is, “I bought this for my son (grandson, nephew, little brother) and he actually liked it!”  (I always laugh when people are so surprised when a guy actually reads a book!)

Shout out to my editor to Kelly for setting the vision for this one!

 

on Canadian TV talking about bullying

Posted on: 11/21/18 1:56 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week Canadian TV show 100 Huntley Street aired a series of interviews with me about bullying, and how parents, teachers and youth workers can actually prevent it.

Here’s the two part interview…

PART I:

PART II:

The book is now available on Amazon and anywhere you buy books!

 

The stream is up

Posted on: 11/8/18 6:11 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Did you miss our Anchored Leadership Conference last weekend, helping church leaders reach young people identifying as LGBTQ?

No worries… you can still register and replay the stream of THE ENTIRE conference for just $29.

Hear me talk about Christ as our identity.

Hear Caleb Kaltenbach tell his story of being raised by two lesbian mothers and a gay father… and now is a pastor.

Hear Sean McDowell talk about scripture as our authority.

Hear Greg Stier talk about love in our community.

Hear a panel of church leaders talking about how to actually love young people today!

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE REPLAY OF THIS CONFERENCE- WATCH ANYTIME!

please pray for us

Posted on: 11/2/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s been an interesting week, with my new bullying book releasing yesterday, and doing a two day show about bullying with Focus on the Family

But honestly, my mind is on tonight.

Tonight and tomorrow my friends Sean McDowell, Greg Stier and Caleb Kaltenbach are joining together with me to speak to church leaders about reaching LGBTQ youth at our Anchored Leadership Conference.

We are excited, yet nervous, about this event because we know emotions run high when you bring up this subject (it’s like bringing up politics at dinner). But we think it’s worth it because we know so many of us in the church are desperate for resources and training in what it really looks like to love LGBTQ people like Jesus loved people, without abandoning our theology. (And I’m so glad to have Sean, Greg and Caleb embarking on this journey with me.)

People can still register to stream the event– so join us “virtually” if you like- REGISTER TO STREAM IT HERE. (Streaming can be watched live tonight or tomorrow, or after 3 days it can be replayed once for a week).

Thanks so much for your prayers!

Focus Interviews Me about Bullying

Posted on: 10/29/18 1:50 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This Thursday and Friday Focus on the Family will be airing a two-day radio show where they interview me about how parents and teachings can prevent bullying.

Here’s just a quick snippet:

Here’s a link to find a station in your city airing the broadcast.

In this interview I share a little bit of my own story, as well as the research I uncovered in my brand new book, The Bullying Breakthrough, also releasing this Thursday. We talk not only about kids who are bullied, but bullies and bystanders, and how we can help all three types of kids.

For more about this book and what people are already saying,CLICK HERE.

Sooooooooo excited

Posted on: 10/22/18 4:48 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I don’t know the last time I was this excited about teaching at a conference. Maybe it’s because it’s something we are sooooooooo passionate about, reaching young people who identify as LGBTQ+.

This isn’t your typical conference. It’s just something my friends Sean McDowell, Greg Stier and I were talking about… and we were like, “Let’s do it!”

And so we did.

I’m talking about the Anchored Leadership Conference in just a couple weeks on November 2 and 3… either in SoCal or live-streamed that week (if you can’t watch it live, you can actually replay it once that week for up to one week).

We put together the conference because it’s addressing hands down the biggest issue we’ve been getting questions about in the last two years. Questions like:

  • Out of 20 kids in my youth group, three or four of them identify as another gender. How do I handle this when we divide to “gender-specific” small groups?
  • A lesbian in our youth group wants to lead worship? How do I respond?
  • I want to teach our kids about Biblical sexuality. Will I be a hater if I teach one man and one woman?

The list goes on.

But here’s the exciting aspect: youth groups are full of lost kids, both straight and gay, cisgender and transgender… and all of them are looking for meaning. Jesus can provide that meaning and identity in their life.

Are you pointing them to Jesus?

We’re excited to provide a little bit of help to leaders in this area.

I’ll be talking about culture & identity, Sean will be talking about the Bible as our authority, and Greg will be sending us off with how to reach out to our community. In addition, we have testimonies and panels from other great speakers and youth workers.

Can’t wait!

Find out more on AnchoredLeadershipConference.com

View from the Edge

Posted on: 10/16/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Some of you might have caught the exclusive excerpt of my new book I posted on our parents site last week. The following is ANOTHER excerpt from the first chapter of my brand new book, The Bullying Breakthrough, releasing this month…  the first book where I finally tell my story…

Chapter 1: View from the Edge

“Sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

We’ve all heard it. We all had teachers who reiterated it. “…word will never hurt me.”

Complete foolishness.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I probably don’t even need to give you thirteen reasons why.

Anyone who has been mocked or victimized will tell you nothing is more crushing or more demoralizing. Speaking completely candidly, I’d rather get beaten senseless than become the victim of public humiliation—and sadly, I’ve been there.

That’s the intriguing thing about bullying. I’ve read countless articles and studies, heard theories from known psychologists. I’ve attended assemblies and conferences about bullying. . . almost always by someone who hasn’t been bullied.

They don’t know.

They really don’t.

I grew up five minutes from the American River Parkway, a beautiful recreation area where the American River glides 120 miles from the Sierra Nevada Mountains down to the Sacramento River. One of the trails we took as kids would bring us to the edge of a cliff 120 feet high overlooking the north side of the river. Sacramento residents call it “The Bluffs.” A romantic lookout for many, but for me, a location where I would contemplate taking my own life.

When I was sixteen years old I stood at the edge of that cliff staring down at the rocks below.

I can’t tell you what was unique about this particular day. I honestly had experienced hundreds of days like this, especially years prior in middle school, being mocked, pushed around, and demoralized while my classmates looked on with laughter or passive approval.

I don’t blame them. You had only three choices: laugh, ignore, or say something. Those who spoke up would only be next. . .so everyone chose either laughter or silence. Literally everyone.

No one every spoke up.

I probably couldn’t have put words to what I was feeling standing on that ledge: loneliness, hurt. . .a longing for someone who understood? Most of the people in my life didn’t even know what went on at my school every day. It’s not their fault; I never really shared the experiences. If I did, I most likely wouldn’t have even used the word bullying, because in my mind bullying was a big kid cornering a little kid and stealing his lunch money. My aggressors weren’t big kids. They weren’t even all male. My aggressors came in all shapes and sizes. But what I was experiencing was actually textbook bullying.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines bullying as“any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.”

“Perceived power imbalance”—a good word choice. Kids don’t have a positive concept of “self,” so they try to make themselves feel better by hurling verbal onslaughts at others. That’s an accurate description of what my peers did to me each day. I was an easy target, so I became a stepping-stone others used to raise themselves up so they could feel more powerful.

“Repeated multiple times”—also accurate. For me it was daily in middle school, at least weekly in high school. Certain environments seemed to foster it more than others, none more so than PE class.

That particular day began with gym class, physical education, or PE as our school called it. PE is a cruel requirement for nonathletes, something the physically fit will never understand. PE is where the weak get intimidated by the strong. PE is where small boys get hung by their underwear or slapped in the back of the legs while bystanders laugh hysterically.

That morning in PE a popular kid had said something cruel. I don’t remember the exact exchange, but knowing me, I probably retaliated with a quick verbal jab. I had developed a quick wit over the years. I had plenty of experience defending myself.

But this kid wasn’t going to tolerate any banter. He hit me hard in the jaw. I can still hear the cackles from the crowd and feel the stares of those who quickly circled around. Funny, I don’t recall the physical pain of the hit.

More words were exchanged. I had two choices: fight or back down. I chose back down.

Social suicide.

Names were called—cruel names that are difficult even to put into print.

“Pu**y!”

“Fag!”

I was neither, but it didn’t matter.

Threats were made. “You’d better watch your back!”

He meant it. And he was right. This altercation had triggered a social seismic shift, and there were aftershocks. You see, once someone is publicly humiliated, the victim bears an invisible Kick Me sign on his back.For the rest of the day I endured shoves, jeers, and cruel whispers from kids I had never even met. Other kids with low self-esteem jumped on the opportunity to step up a notch on the social ladder by lowering someone else a rung.

I don’t know why this particular day pushed me over the tipping point, since I had experienced many other days like it. Regardless, six hours after the original jab, I stood at the edge of the cliff looking down at the rocks.

Should I jump?

I wanted to jump. I really wanted to, honestly, for selfish reasons.

I’ll show them.

They’ll regret everything they ever said!


Author Josh McDowell calls The Bullying Breakthrough “Jonathan’s most vulnerable and insightful book yet! An eye-opening peek into the world of bullying today and what we can actually do to prevent it.”

Social researcher Shaunti Feldhahn claims this is “Jonathan’s most important book so far,” describing it as “an essential guide to preventing and stopping bullying behaviors.”

The Bullying Breakthrough is available for PRE-ORDER on Amazon right now and will be releasing this month! Order your copy now!

Would you like to screen my newest book to teen guys?

Posted on: 10/8/18 1:32 PM | by Jonathan McKee

In the next few weeks I’m wrapping up my first draft of my next book, The Guy’s Guide to Four Battles Every Young Man Must Fight.

Would you like to read/screen it next week? Whoever does will get a free copy of the book on its release next year.

I only ask one thing– that you read it within a week. Interested? Keep reading.

I’m writing this book because of such a positive response to the first Guy’s Guide book I wrote: The Guy’s Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket. This book has been an Amazon best seller for two years now and seems to resonate with young men. I love reading the reviews because most of them are written by parents who are surprised that their kid actually enjoyed reading a book!  🙂

The new book will also address young men, but this time specifically about four areas guys struggle today: sex, substances, screens, and self image.

I’d love your feedback!

I’m finishing up most of it this week and could email it to you by this Friday. Then I simply ask that you send me your feedback by the next Friday.

If you’re interested, please hit reply to this post!

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Yeah… we’re just giving these away

Posted on: 10/1/18 4:40 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’ve got a bunch of good stuff to give away this month—including this pair of Oakley’s (leftover from our running/biking fund raiser), and four signed copies of my upcoming book, The Bullying Breakthrough—so let’s have a little contest!

This contest is especially for youth workers. So if you serve with young people in any way, follow the three steps below and I’ll draw 5 winners out of a hat at the end of the month.

Most of you saw we launched our newly revamped TheSource4YM.com website last week. Well, we’re working out the kinks and we’d like your feedback. So we decided to offer the simplest contest in the world. It’s easy: just try out one of our resources, then send me a sentence or two of feedback. Your feedback automatically enters you to win.

Here’s the details—follow these three steps:

 1. Jump on TheSource4YM.com and click around the new site

2. Choose a page you’d like to try out. DON’T just tell me, “I love your games page. We use it all the time.” Actually take a few seconds and give it a test drive. Here’s some ways you can help us evaluate one of these:

For example, if you like the Games & Icebreakers page with over 1,000 free game ideas, then click the CUSTOM GAME SEARCH button and try a search for your unique setting. Maybe you choose a game for 1-20 kidswith no prep timewhere all playand it only takes one or two quick props(you don’t have to select every criteria—the less you select, the broader the search). Hit SEARCH. How did the search turn out? Which game is a perfect fit? Or, if the search didn’t seem to match your criteria… be specific… which game didn’t match up? (We have our game guys going through ALL 1,000 games right now tweaking this to perfection. So we value your feedback!)

Or maybe you like the Music Discussions page with literally hundreds of songs ready to discuss “ready made” for you with scripture and small group questions. Try a song. How was the transition statement and/or wrap up? How relevant were the small group questions? Which was one music discussion that really looked good to you? Did you encounter anything you didn’t like?

Or maybe you liked the Free Training Videos page, which has exactly what the name implies—completely free youth ministry training videos helping you with anything from game leading to skit leading, evangelism, connecting with kids, leading small groups, etc. Did the video provide you with good ideas? Which one did you especially like? Any training you didn’t see that you would like to see?

3.  Simply comment in this blog post OR hit me with a reply to this post and tell me three things: your name, your city, and your feedback.

Anyone who can follow those instructions is automatically entered into the contest. I’ll be drawing the names on the last day of October! So take your time this month and give these resources a try!

Thanks everyone!