Top 10 Posts of 2014

Top-10-blog-postsAs the year-end approaches rapidly, it’s fun to look back at some of the highlights of ministry in 2014.

Today I looked back at the most popular posts on my blog in 2014. Here are the Top 10 posts from 2014 you readers liked the most:

10. Happy Birthday… Here’s Your Boob Job

9. Free Online Training

8. The Seahawks… and Jesus?

7. Keeping Social Media Safe

6. Shy, Teased, Isolated…Teen Killer?

5. Teen Online Behavior 2014

4. Young People and Selfies

3. Shame on us

2. Should I Watch Game of Thrones?

1. Dad’s Version of “Rude”

…and then these “pre-2014” posts still drew a ton of traffic as well:

Dad, Can I Go to the Homecoming Dance?

Top Words Used By Teenagers

Top Ten 70’s Slang Words That We Need to Bring Back!

Should We Read Our Kids’ Texts?

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5 Ideas to Help Your Kids be Smarter Than Their Smartphone

Today's-TeensLast night my wife and I saw a friend at a Christmas party who I hadn’t seen in months… at least face-to-face. But immediately I complimented her on her Thanksgiving decorations and asked how her daughter’s b-day party was last weekend… as if we had just talked days before.


Instagram. I follow her on Instagram.

Americans have plenty of complaints about cell phones and the Internet. I regularly encounter parents who just want to smash their kids’ phones. But let’s not be too quick to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Pew just released a brand new report revealing American’s feelings about the internet. In total, 87% of online adults say the Internet and cell phones have improved their ability to learn new things.

That’s a no brainer. What did you do the last time you were lost and needed quick directions? Did you stop by a gas station and ask? Or did you ask Siri?

Last week I was at Home Depot shopping for a new water filter for my refrigerator. About 30 seconds into the conversation with the Home Depot employee I realized that he didn’t know what he was talking about. After politely thanking him for his help, I walked away and did a search on my Amazon app for the filter. I found the right filter for $20 less… and ordered it before I got to my car.

God Bless the iPhone!

I know, I know. Some people are having fits with kids and their phones. But we’d probably be having fits with our kids and their automobiles if we just handed them keys one day and said, “Don’t break it.” But we’ve learned better with cars. We’ve learned that kids need to take tests, obey rules, take more tests, sit in the seat with an adult next to them for 6 months, and then drive without their friends in the car for a year.

But what do American parents do when they give their 12-year-old a new iPhone?

Merry Christmas! Good luck!

Let’s be smarter than that. Let’s talk with our kids about some of these issues:

These are issues we need to dialogue about with our kids. How can we do this?

Here are five ideas to be proactive and help your kids be smarter than their smartphones!

  1. Stay connected to parenting resources that provide free articles and help with current issues.
  2. Keep your eyes open for studies about phones, Social Media and Technology. Ask your kids what they think? Discuss what responsible use of these devices looks like.
  3. Try media fasts as a family. Be proactive, even playing games where you cut back on tech time.
  4. Use books like, Should I Just Smash My Kid’s Phone? or A Parents Guide to Understanding Social Media, helping you set realistic boundaries, and dialogue with your kids about these issues (that Smash book includes a sample phone contract and a social media guide).
  5. Be an example of how to use tech responsibly, not be controlled by tech. We can teach what we know, but we can only reproduce who we are.

Have you begun these conversations with your kids?

Posted in Internet, Parenting, Smartphones/Cell Phones, Social Media, Youth Culture | Leave a comment

Reducing Teen Sexual Activity

between the sheetsIn a world where 64% of high school seniors have already engaged in sexual intercourse, most parents would welcome programs or information helping reduce teen sexual activity. But there lies the debate. What actually works?

Planned Parenthood claims to have developed a sex education program cutting the number of sexually active eighth-graders by about 15 percent. That might not sound like much, but Planned Parenthood backers would be quick to tell you Continue reading “Reducing Teen Sexual Activity” »

Posted in Parenting, Sexuality, Youth Culture | 1 Comment

Our New “Toddler”

Golden Doodle PuppyIt’s been a long time since we’ve cared for an infant of any kind, and we’re getting a ginormous dose of it this month… raising our new puppy.

Honestly, I think our kids were easier than this!

Saturday we drove and picked up our brand new Golden Doodle named Pippin (yes, from Lord of the Rings… and Jaws, if you’re a serious film nerd). His mom’s a Golden Retriever and his dad is a Poodle. He’s 7 weeks old, clumsy, adorable… and “so fluffy I’m gonna die!”

He’s inside with us all the time and he’s a peeing machine! We have to Continue reading “Our New “Toddler”” »

Posted in Parenting, Personal | 1 Comment

Death of the Dining Room

Family DinnerAs families and friends gather together for the holidays, the big question I have is… where will they gather?

Their dining room?

The kitchen?

It’s funny how much you can tell about a society’s social norms solely from the changes in its home design. Think about it.

  • Do you have a dining room?
  • Is your kitchen sink near the social center of your house?
  • What year was your home built?

Today’s homes have two glaring changes compared to homes from a few decades past Continue reading “Death of the Dining Room” »

Posted in Family, Food, Jonathan's Rant, Marriage, Parenting | 1 Comment

What are your top three?

Top-10-youth-ministry-booksWINNERS POSTED- see below.

A few weeks ago I was sitting with a group of youth workers and one of them asked me, “What are the top three youth ministry books you’d recommend we read, if we could only buy three?”

Great question.

This one caused me to pause for a few moments, after all, I’ve read a variety of insightful books that have helped me through my years of youth ministry (that lot in the picture are a pretty good bunch). But which three have proved foundational?

I’ll list the three books I shared with those youth workers that evening, and then I’ll ask you the same. What three youth ministry books have been the most influential and foundational for your ministry? (I’ll even make this a contest—chime in with a comment Continue reading “What are your top three?” »

Posted in Books, Contests, Youth Ministry Management, Youth Ministry Programming | 22 Comments

A book signing

Jonathan-SignThis Weekend the YS Store asked me to do a book signing where I’m speaking at the National Youth Workers Convention in Atlanta, a fun opportunity to connect with people who’ve bought my books. (Curious which book sold out on the first day of this convention in Sacramento?)

So if you’re heading to this convention in Atlanta, be sure to stop by the YS Store at 3:15 on Saturday.

If you’re NOT going to be there in Atlanta… NO WORRIES. I’ll do this:

order any of my books from me this week, and I’ll personally autograph them for you. Feel free to order books for your entire volunteer team… I’ll sign every last one of them!

Posted in Books, Speaking/Training | Leave a comment

My TV Interview about Sex

More-Than-Just-The-Talk-WEBToday I’m being filmed for a Canadian TV show- a Christian talk show. We’re filming several segments about my upcoming book to parents, More Than Just the Talk (coming this February/March), and then some bit on how to open the doors of dialogue with today’s teenagers.

It’s interesting, as I’ve been preparing for this, taking a peek at some of the newest studies about teen sex, I keep seeing the same assertions. “We need to talk with our kids about this regularly!”

It doesn’t matter how liberal or conservative the report Continue reading “My TV Interview about Sex” »

Posted in Books, Jonathan's Rant, Parenting, Sexuality, TV, Youth Culture | 2 Comments

Curb Your Phone Addiction

phone-addictionDo your kids spend too much time on their phones?

Do YOU spend too much time on your phone?

Wanna app that will help you see exactly how much time you’re on your phone?

I think many people are becoming self aware that they spend too much time staring at screens (I won’t bring up that you’re staring at one now… because I actually WANT you to be reading this), because we’re seeing more and more blogs and funny parodies about “smartphone addiction” and I’m even hearing many teenagers admit they spend too much time on their phones.

If you’re curious exactly how much time, then try the new app called Moment which not only helps you track exactly how much time you’re using your phone each day, but also can help you set limits, with occasional “nudges” when you approach those limits.

Last month a similar app was introduced Continue reading “Curb Your Phone Addiction” »

Posted in Entertainment Media, Parenting, Smartphones/Cell Phones, Youth Culture | Leave a comment

Zombie Senior Retreat

Zombie Camp TXI’ve been speaking at camps for almost 20 years, and I gotta admit… this is a first!

I received a call this summer from a camp director of a big camp in TX and he told me, “I’d like you to speak at our camp this winter, but it’s going to be a little bit different than the typical senior high retreat.”

He wasn’t kidding. This camp is going all out. Each year they have anywhere from 500 to 1000 students at these retreats, but this year they are hosting a “Zombie Senior High Weekend” and they have Hollywood makeup and set designers Continue reading “Zombie Senior Retreat” »

Posted in Books, Speaking/Training, Youth Culture, Youth Ministry Programming | Leave a comment