Resisting the Urge to Talk Teen

Posted on: 01/24/19 9:45 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s funny how often I see “old people” like me trying so hard to be current with “young people.”

Today I was on a middle school campus hanging out with young people and I noticed something. They don’t care whether I’m wearing the newest Vans (you know, the kind that looks like a checkerboard), or if I use the current teen talk (“Man, that’s sus!”) … they just care that I’m there to listen.

And that’s the secret to talking teen: just shut up and listen.

Yes, there’s a balance to this. Let me address youth workers for a moment. I’ve heard youth workers say, “You just gotta be YOU!” And while I agree that you shouldn’t try to be something you’re not, at the same time, if YOU are a slob who doesn’t shower or who hasn’t updated their wardrobe since the 80’s, a shower and a trip to Target wouldn’t hurt.

No, you don’t need to go to Tilly’s, buy Van’s and a Sweatshirt (with the word Champions strewn all over it) and invite kids to youth group because “It’s lit!” We don’t need to try to “attract” teenagers.

But it would be nice to not repel them either.

The key? Don’t try too hard. Pray that God will give you peace so you don’t feel awkward. Just be ready to listen. Engage kids in conversation.

It’s January—ask them,

“So what did you do for Christmas?”

“What was your favorite gift you received?”

“What was your favorite gift you gave?”

Or if they care about their appearance (which not every middle school kid does, but if they do) ask about what they’re wearing.

“Nice Vans. Where did you get them?”

“If you had $100 to shop at any store where would you shop?”

Whether you’re a parent, teacher or youth worker. Ask questions. Listen.

Then you won’t be so “awk.” (Sorry, that slipped out.)

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 Continue reading “Sooooooooo excited” »

Teens & Social Media 2018

Posted on: 09/17/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Common Sense Media just came out with their brand new report about teens and social media revealing exactly how many teens now have smartphones (89%),  their favorite apps (Snapchat), their feelings about how social media makes them feel (they’re fooling themselves) … here’s their infographic with the highlights: Continue reading “Teens & Social Media 2018” »

Is evangelism shrinking across the U.S.

Posted on: 09/13/18 12:01 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Which states in the U.S. are full of the most committed Christians… and which aren’t?

And how are those numbers changing?

Many of us have read articles about the decreasing amount of believers in the U.S.– like this fascinating Washington Post article a few years back displaying 22 different maps of various religious groups and their influence in the U.S., or this one about weekly church attendance.

I find it interesting to see how this translates to youth ministry. Continue reading “Is evangelism shrinking across the U.S.” »

Your response to 4-years-in-a-row of STD’s at a record high

Posted on: 09/6/18 2:34 PM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s not just some alarmist headline—the CDC issued a press release Monday revealing the fourth consecutive year of sharp increases in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in the U.S.

Are we listening yet?

Last year the country heard this warning and was surprised at the news of STDs at a record high… again. The year prior we heard the warning and many thought it was a fluke thing… I stated my own theories as to why this was no surprise.

It wasn’t a fluke thing. It’s still on the rise. In fact… Continue reading “Your response to 4-years-in-a-row of STD’s at a record high” »

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” »

Depreciating Morality in the Top Music

Posted on: 08/14/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Popular music always has provided a few vile examples that made grandmother gasp…

But never like today.

We’ve come a long way from “Like a Virgin” being shocking. In fact we’ve come a long way from, “I Kissed a Girl.” Sure we’ve seen some raunchy lyrics from top artists before… but never so potent at the top of the charts.

So far this month the Billboard Hot 100 has only one song that is not explicit in the top 10. And those that are… really push the envelope.

Drake’s song, In My Feelings, currently at No. 1, is probably one of the cleaner songs in the charts… that is… if you ignore the sampling of Lil Wayne & Magnolia Shorty near the end of the song with the lyrics:

Bring that a*s, bring that a*s, bring that a*s back!
B-bring that a*s, bring that a*s, bring that a*s back!
Shawty say the nigga that she with can’t hit
But shawty, I’ma hit it, hit it like I can’t miss
Now let me see you
Clap that a*s, you’re the only one I love Continue reading “Depreciating Morality in the Top Music” »

The Newest on Teens, Social Media & Technology

Posted on: 07/24/18 3:33 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Pew Research just released their newest report on Teens, Social Media & Technology giving us the newest numbers confirming what we already knew: almost all teens have smartphones and use social media a lot!

But their numbers also revealed some interesting realities about where teens navigate and their perceptions about social media. Here are some random facts that stood out to me from their report:

Just do you

Posted on: 07/12/18 6:35 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Next week I’ll be at a conference speaking to young people about deciphering truth in the midst of lies. We’ll be looking at several influences like social media, music and other entertainment media, observing the subtle messages they communicate.

Let’s try one.

Here’s a Diet Coke commercial you may have seen– I saw it in a movie theater before the most recent Avengers movie Continue reading “Just do you” »

The CDC, teen risks, and who is vulnerable

Posted on: 06/19/18 3:40 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Fewer high school students are drinking, having sex and using drugs… but the CDC still says the findings of their most recent teen risk assessment “leaves room for concern.”

And please don’t undervalue my use of the word “fewer.” I really mean “a whole bunch!” We’re not talking a few percentage points. For example, in 1997 a whopping 37% of kids “currently” smoked cigarettes (in the 30 days prior to the survey). In 2017 only 8% “currently” smoke cigarettes. That’s a huge decrease!

Why is this? Why the overwhelming decrease in the number of kids engaging in many of these risky behaviors, and what are these concerns the CDC is referencing about their new survey results?

Let me give you the quick answers:

Why are today’s kids engaging in less sex, taking less drugs… even smoking less marijuana (yes, really) …than kids in years prior? A few months ago Continue reading “The CDC, teen risks, and who is vulnerable” »