Going Deeper

Posted on: 01/31/19 3:22 AM | by Jonathan McKee

I’ve always been a fan of using questions to open the doors of dialogue. But sometimes I forget how powerful they can be.

Last week I was in a corner booth at a local pizza place with four 8thgrade boys. The conversation was typical middle school boys—all over the place.

“Hey man, look at my new phone case!”

“I got one too, see?”

“I got it for Christmas.”

“Do you know what I got for Christmas? Your mom!”

After eating and listening to them talk (as if they had never had anyone listen to them before), I told them we were going to go around the table and each finish the following sentence:

“If you know me, you know I…. but if you reallyknew me, you’d know…”

I gave them an example.

“If you know me, you know I have no problem speaking to large crowds. But if you reallyknew me, you’d know that I’m actually pretty scared to talk with someone one-on-one and I get nervous and bumble up the conversation.”

I told them they could go as deep as they wanted. No pressure. It was up to them.

And everything changed.

Kids began to share deep things about themselves. Tough family struggles. Insecurities. The death of a parent. It was awesome. I love it when I’m able to make kids feel noticed and heard.

Whenever you create a safe place where kids can talk and people will listen, kids will typically open up.

What questions have worked for you?

HAVE YOU SEEN JONATHAN’S BOOK WITH OVER 1,000 QUESTIONS FOR TODAY’S YOUNG PEOPLE?

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.)

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 Continue reading “please pray for us” »

Are games actually effective in youth ministry?

Posted on: 09/25/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

It’s an interesting question, coming from a guy who has over 1000 free game ideas for youth workers on the brand new TheSource4YM.com

But honestly… that’s why I asked the question. Because our GAMES & ICEBREAKERS page is our most hit page on the website, and I want to make sure that youth ministries aren’t “just playing games”… I’m hoping that games serve as a springboard to meaningful conversation.

That’s why on our newly revamped website (have you seen it… it’s literally only been up a few days now), I put our newest FREE TRAINING VIDEO, a YouTube video titled, “Are Games Effective in Youth Ministry” right there on the side bar in hopes that visitors to our page will click and be challenged by what I ask them: Continue reading “Are games actually effective in youth ministry?” »

If Dr. Seuss was in youth ministry

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

Earlier this week I was looking through the archives of the articles I wrote to youth workers back in the days… really fun looking through it all. I found this little gem from April of 2005 (I had totally forgotten about this). It gives you a glimpse of the type of kids I worked with… NOT very politically correct, mind you (apparently the filter was completely off back then).

WHAT IF DR. SEUSS HAD CHAPERONED ONE OF YOUR
YOUTH MINISTRY EVENTS?

One kid, two kid,
old kid, new kid.
Flabby kid, toned kid,
clean kid, stoned kid Continue reading “If Dr. Seuss was in youth ministry” »

Confessions of an Overweight Youth Pastor

Posted on: 03/12/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“I was 100 pounds overweight,” he admitted. “It was effecting my ministry, my marriage… everything! So I finally decided to do something about it.”

Overweight. It’s not a word we use much on Sunday mornings, but it’s all too common. Maybe even more common in the world of youth ministry. (How many French fry conversations and pizza nights can one person have?)

That’s probably why Josh’s story moved me. So I asked him to share it with us. It’s a success story and I think it will be an inspiration to all of you Continue reading “Confessions of an Overweight Youth Pastor” »

the three vital practices of today’s youth pastor

Posted on: 01/23/18 3:30 AM | by Jonathan McKee

“How can I become the best youth pastor possible?”

Wow! Talk about your huge questions! I just received that exact question in an email. Well, actually, he asked…

Can you please give me your best advice on how to become the best youth pastor possible? The students deserve the best and so I want to give it to them. Even if you just want to give me a Top 10 list of books that would help me, that would be helpful.
~Trent

MY RESPONSE:

Trent, Wow, how to summarize youth ministry… in one email. That’s a big question. I’ll simplify it to three vital practices and then link a bunch of helpful reading as requested Continue reading “the three vital practices of today’s youth pastor” »

Back to School Conversations

Posted on: 08/23/17 3:03 PM | by Jonathan McKee

If your kids aren’t already back to school, they’re headed there. Sure that means new classes, homework, and all that goes along with the academic aspects of school… but that also means navigating new and old friendships, trying to fit in, and wondering if everyone likes you, not just at school, but also on every app with a like button.

This is where you come in. The typical response from caring adults like parents, grandparents, coaches and youth pastors is to ask about school Continue reading “Back to School Conversations” »

Top 30 Youth Ministry Blogs

Posted on: 03/21/16 5:45 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Top-30-YM-Blogs-300x300This month YouthMinistry.com posted the Top 30 Youth Ministry blogs and thanks to readers like you, we made the list… twice!

They listed THE SOURCE FOR YOUTH MINISTRY in slot No. 5, and then my personal blog JonathanMcKeeWrites.com in slot No. 12.

Take a peek at the whole list Continue reading “Top 30 Youth Ministry Blogs” »

Top 3 qualities I’m looking for when I hire

Posted on: 03/8/16 5:45 AM | by Jonathan McKee

LeadershipSomeone just asked me, “Jonathan, we’re looking for a new youth pastor. What would you look for in a youth pastor?”

What would you say?

Good speaker?

Kids like them?

Organized?

(Those are the ones I hear from people frequently.)

To be honest (see what I did there?), none of those three above make my top three Continue reading “Top 3 qualities I’m looking for when I hire” »