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

Talking with teens about how they treat others

Posted on: 09/11/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

The same group of young people watches a boy get pushed around by a bully in gym class almost every day…

and they do nothing.

They merely “stand by.”

Some chuckle, some shake their heads. But no one does anything.

Are “bystanders” any better than the bully?

Ask the kid whose being harassed every day.

Many of you are aware that my first novel, Bystanders, just hit the shelves (in fact, you guys voted on the cover), and as promised, I just wrote a free 4 week curriculum to go with it.

The book is a sobering peek into a high school campus during a school shooting. A curious thing I’ve observed about school shootings –the dialogue that takes place as students and teachers barricade themselves in classrooms, closets etc. They don’t talk about music downloads or their favorite YouTube video. They talk about stuff that matters.

Like my Zombie book, this book uses a fictional premise to springboard meaningful conversation about real world struggles. In this case the story provokes discussion about faith, integrity… and most importantly… how we treat others.

Narratives often speak loudly to today’s young people. And this book isn’t afraid to ask some of the big questions.

The book is available on Amazon (print or Kindle) and we just posted the free discussion guide (complete with scripture and small group questions) HERE.

giving the first 100 of you my school shooting book

Posted on: 08/21/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s a sobering glimpse into a high school campus through the eyes of today’s teenagers and it releases this month in print! (you know… real books with actual pages!)   🙂

This new piece of fiction is titled Bystanders, and I thought I’d give away the print version to the first 100 of my U.S. blog readers who would love to read it… with one condition: you read it.  (Sorry those outside the U.S., I love you, I honestly just can’t afford the shipping. Buy the Kindle version!)

Seriously. And if you like it Continue reading “giving the first 100 of you my school shooting book” »

The hours leading up to Jesus’ death as told by two children

Posted on: 03/30/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay… this is completely adorable.

Here’s the story of Easter from the perspective of two small children. It’s the Gospel story in less than three minutes on YouTube! How’s that for being relevant to today’s generation of young people!

Take a peek. Continue reading “The hours leading up to Jesus’ death as told by two children” »

Easter talks, ideas, movie clip discussions…

Posted on: 03/28/18 9:54 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s amazing how many FREE resources there are that can help us dialogue about Jesus this week approaching Easter.

I was just clicking through our TheSource4YM.com movie clip discussions page and watched some amazing clips (from secular movies no doubt) with CLEAR Gospel presentations or scenes begging for discussion (I still can’t believe how clear Steven Spielberg’s film Amistad presented the Gospel!!)

For those of you in ministry who are looking for impactful Easter discussions… we’ve got a bunch of free ones Continue reading “Easter talks, ideas, movie clip discussions…” »

Mom, Is Justin Bieber a Christian?

Posted on: 01/9/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s a question kids are asking, and a question Moms don’t quite know how to answer.

Similar to the question, “Mom, is Chance the Rapper a Christian?” …you can’t help but wonder, who am I to even answer that question?

But it’s being asked.

Maybe we’re confused because we’ve read about Justin’s troubles with the law (from 2014 granted) or heard him singing and collaborating on some pretty worldly tracks (okay, maybe that’s a little more recent)… and then moments later we see him unashamedly dancing to worship music or posting a powerful Instagram post praising Jesus for “changing me from the inside out.” Continue reading “Mom, Is Justin Bieber a Christian?” »

I just got a facelift

Posted on: 01/4/18 3:23 AM | by Jonathan McKee

No… not my actual face…our websites!

I guess a New Year means a new look. We’ve been busy working behind the scenes to make free resources even easier for you to find. So enjoy the new look and new top bar navigation for both our PARENTS page and YOUTH MINISTRY page. If you are making a difference in the lives of kids… we want to make your job easier!

We want you to be able to get the free resources you need just a click away. So enjoy our…

Continue reading “I just got a facelift” »

Imposing our ideas of Jesus

Posted on: 12/5/17 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

A Northeastern village in Spain was the home of a magnificent fresco painting of Jesus on the church’s wall.

Time took its toll on the painting…

moisture on the wall caused it to fade.

In 2012 an elderly parishioner named Cecilia Gimenez acted on her own to restore the project… tragically failing in her attempt.

The results? Continue reading “Imposing our ideas of Jesus” »

Engaging Young People with Stranger Things

Posted on: 10/24/17 6:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Young people love them some Netflix… and this week they’re especially buzzing about Stranger Things, because Season 2 will be premiering this Friday… and everybody’s talking about it!

That means literally millions of people won’t be going outdoors this weekend, because they will be at home binge-watching the entire season in one sitting! That also means that many are re-binging on Season One again this week to prep for the big premiere.

Did you know that we have free discussion starters for EVERY episode of Stranger Things on our Continue reading “Engaging Young People with Stranger Things” »

Does Sexy Music Really Affect Me?

Posted on: 08/30/17 1:30 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I guess it’s a good time to ask this question when the No. 1 song on the charts articulates, “I want to show my mouth your favorite places, let me trespass your danger zones until I make you scream.”

Whenever I speak to parents I tend to provide them with a glimpse into the world of youth culture: the apps young people frequent (on their smartphones at an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes a day), the games they’re playing (teen boys play an average of 56 minutes per day), and the music they’re soaking in (at an average of 1 hour and 54 minutes per day) (Media Use by Tweens and Teens, page 19 and 31). Sometime I even play YouTube videos or paste lyrics of the top dozen songs right on the screen for parents to see firsthand. The reaction is always the same:

“I didn’t know it was this bad!”

Well, I’ve been doing this two decades now… and I’ve never seen the top 12 songs this bad Continue reading “Does Sexy Music Really Affect Me?” »