The Source for Youth Ministry
Jonathan's Resource Ezine

Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, February 24, 2004

In This Issue

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Featured: Censoring Friends ... and Veggie Tales?

by Jonathan McKee
February 24, 2004

What do Veggie Tales and TV's "Friends" have in common? Good question. Keep reading for a lesson on perception.

How do we perceive "the unchurched?" Or, more importantly, ever thought about how your unchurched neighbor perceives you? How about how they perceive Christians in general?

Recently, I was reading an article linked from Al Menconi's ministry, written by Bruce Kluger of USA TODAY (posted December 21, 2003). The article takes some Christians by surprise because it gives us a glimpse into the mind of "the unchurched" and sheds light on how the "churched" and "unchurched" perceive each other.

I find it funny that many "churched people" think that all "the unchurched" are all partying, immoral atheists. Is this true? The Kluger article is a good example of a secular author who obviously is encouraging people to make good moral parenting decisions. In fact, the author is a regular contributor to "Parenting Magazine." And his USA Today article is encouraging parents to talk to teens about casual sex, citing the hit show "Friends" as an example of a show to monitor. Bruce says, "As parents, we have good reason to fret about our kids' beholding so much carefree hanky-panky across the dial."

Sounds good. At first glance one might think that "Focus on Family" could have written the article.

But then Bruce's article takes an interesting turn, giving us a glimpse of how "the unchurched" perceive Christians. In the middle of his article about the inappropriate sexual humor in Friends, he talks about a "similar" experience he had with a Veggie Tales video. Bruce writes:
    "For example, when VeggieTales, the popular children's video series, was released, I glanced at the packaging - with its colorful cast of smiling, anthropomorphic cukes and tomatoes - and assumed the tape was about nutrition. I booted up a copy for my kids, but no sooner had the plot kicked in than one of the characters began invoking a passage from the Bible. Immediately removing the tape, I reread the packaging. Not one mention there of religion. In fact, it was only when I researched the series online that I discovered the production company's Christian roots and its goal "to introduce families to God and the Bible" to "enhance the moral and spiritual fabric of our society."

    Don't get me wrong - that's a noble mission for believers. But in my house, religion is a very personal matter, and in this instance I felt more than a little resentful at having been led down the vegetable garden path only to wind up in the garden of Gethsemane.

    Although animated fresh produce espousing God is a far cry from Jennifer Aniston bed-hopping her way through 10 seasons on the air, both scenarios present a fundamental and disturbing notion: Somewhere along the line, somebody else has decided what's OK for our kids to watch. Now it's up to us as parents to frame that information accordingly."
Some of you might have been surprised when he said, "immediately removing the tape ..." as if it was porn or some other inappropriate material. But this opinion should be noted. Bruce isn't alone in his desire for religious freedom. Bruce is actually typical of, and probably on the tail end of, a generation whose parents made them go to church every week and now wants to make sure that they don't do the same to their children.

I've worked with "unchurched" students for years. Every year I meet parents who don't want their kids involved in anything to do with Jesus -- especially someone who is sneaky about their approach.

Bottom line. I think you'll find that there are a large group of very moral people, making pretty moral decisions ... who just don't think that God or the church has any answers for them. We'll also find that a percentage of this group actually avoid the church because they don't want religion shoved down their throat.

Luckily, not all of the "unchurched" are aggressive or resistant to Christian influence. As a matter of fact, many are not only searching for "something," but are open to our invitations to church or discussions about God. But we need to be careful and "as innocent as doves" as we approach people. We don't need to use back-door approaches or trickery. We just have this hope within us that we can't help but share with others.

1 Thes. 2:3-4 (NIV)
   For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you. [4] On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

For more on our "REACHING THE UNCHURCHED" training conference CLICK HERE!

For Jonathan's article on "Understanding and Reaching the Unchurched" CLICK HERE!

For the entire Bruce Kluger article quoted above, CLICK HERE

Something You Can Use: Complete Agendas/Curriculum for Your Midweek Program

Short on time and you need a "ready-made" agenda for your program?

Glad you asked!

And don't worry- you're not alone. Just recently I received this familiar email:

"Jonathan- I am looking for some new ideas for Youth Group lessons. We have a very diverse group of ages ranging from 13-18. Do you have any ideas for fun lessons that are meaningful yet light enough for a Wednesday night discussion? Our teens usually seem to respond well to a lesson that has a discussion starter or game somehow tied into it. Thanks for your help!" -Amber-

Here's 3 resources for you.

1. OUR FREE TOPICAL CURRICULUM PAGE ON OUR WEB SITE: Maybe you've been there already - maybe you never knew it was there. But this page on our web site is devoted to giving you the free stuff you need to make your job easier. When you click on this page, you have two choices: Openers and Complete Outreach Agendas. Openers are simply opening activities that introduce your topic. Complete Outreach Agendas are the entire outline for a particular evening, aranged by topic. Great stuff.


2. OUR FREE VIDEO CLIP IDEAS PAGE ON OUR WEB SITE: If you're looking for some creative video clips to stimulate discussion, then you've come to the right place. This page has a bunch of free video clip ideas arranged by topic that kick off great discussion. Check out ideas from older films like Amistad, City Slickers, or Forest Gump, or maybe newer videos like Bruce Almighty. Many of these video clip ideas include discussion questions, film reviews or even discussion wrap ups.

3. JONATHAN'S BOOK THE TOP 12 RESOURCES YOUTH WORKERS WANT: This book has an entire chapter devoted to weekly curriculum, including a write up of Jonathan's 9 favorite "ready-made" youth group agendas. Jonathan also has his favorite video clips, his favorite events, favorite up front activities, favorite games ... and he even gives us coaching on programming, recruiting volunteers, putting together a student leadership program, and much more. Don't miss the book that Fuller Seminary's Chap Clark calls "the best single volume on pragmatic programming I've ever seen!"

CLICK HERE to order this great resource.


Jonathan's "Understanding & Reaching The Unchurched" Training

Reaching the Unchurched WESTERN PA

May 22nd, Jonathan is doing a Saturday workshop (9AM to 3PM) for youth workers in New Castle, PA. If you're a youth worker in the area, don't miss this opportunity to train and equip your youth ministry staff and volunteers.

    May 22nd, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
    New Castle, PA (Western PA). Specific Location coming soon.
    • About an hour North of Pittsburgh
    • About 15 minutes East of Youngstown, Ohio
    FREE- but you need to pre-register
    Call Todd Smith at Knox Student Ministries: (724) 946-3035

Worth Checking Out: YS Brings THE CORE training to 100 Cities this Spring

Youth Specialties has been providing dynamite resources and cutting-edge training for decades. 2004 brings yet another year of YS training opportunities.

If you live in the U.S. and you can't afford to fly to some huge conference ... NO WORRIES! This Spring Youth Specialties is bringing their THE CORE training event to a city near you.


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