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Jonathan's Resource Ezine

Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, March 7, 2006

In This Issue

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Feature Article: Readers Reactions (both good and bad) to Jonathan's recent article, "A Window into the ?MySpace' Generation"

HAVE YOU READ JONATHAN'S ARTICLES
ABOUT THE MYSPACE EPIDEMIC?

  • Click Here for PART I in the series where Jonathan reveals the truth behind the rumors.
  • Click Here for PART II where Jonathan talks about our response to the epidemic.
Readers Reactions

We had an enormous response to our recent articles on the MySpace epidemic. The article seemed to spark a lot of feedback. I don't think we've had this much response from readers since my article on drinking or the one about gross games.

I wanted to post some of the responses. There is no way we could post all of them, so we're just including 14 responses, a sample representing the majority. Thank you all for your feedback about this hot issue. I'll include small notes after many of the reactions...some provoked me to comment or respond.

Thank you to all who passed the articles on to others, linked the articles, or reprinted it with permission. We're just glad to be a free resource to youth workers and parents.

APPRECIATIVE:
Jonathan, I really appreciate your approach to myspace.com. Outright prohibition, especially without education on the parents' behalf, can often breed rebellion. Your idea to permit supervised use is one I've already recommended to a parent of one of the youth I work with. -Greg

JONATHAN'S RESPONSE
Thanks Greg... I'm glad that the article was a help. But remember, my "2 cents" was to only "prayerfully consider" supervised use with a kid 16-years-old or older. It's not an automatic "yes." Personally, I tend to float a little more on the "no" side based on the ads alone. But parents have to be the one to make that decision. -Jonathan


INVOLVED WITH HER KIDS:
First, thanks for having the guts to tackle the Myspace challenge. I appreciate your thoughtful comments and ideas. Perhaps the most glaring revelation Myspace provides is the horrible hands off approach most parents take with their teenagers! Where are mom and dad--even Christian mom and dads? Myspace has been a great tool to keep my 14 year old daughter and her friends accountable (for the pictures they post and the comments they make). It has provided teachable moments and rich conversation as we've had to talk about God's standards and what it means to honor God on Myspace. Parenting is not just about protecting kids-but getting them ready to THINK biblically about things especially as they grow older. I want my kids to redeem the Internet for God's glory. To simply pull the plug on it seems a little easy and simplistic to me and perhaps leaves one feeling like a good parent... but what about the option of being involved with our kids and teaching them to live and think biblically in the nitty gritty of technological life in the 21st century? -Anonymous

JONATHAN'S RESPONSE
Thanks so much for your response as a parent. You are a trooper. I say that because you've done what so many parents don't do... that is to invest time into their kids' lives, teaching them to think biblically and holding them accountable. I once heard that love is spelled T-I-M-E. Keep up the good work.


CLEARLY DISAPPOINTED:
I am disappointed that you eventually endorsed Myspace.com for youth group interaction. You disqualified the entire rest of the article. Out of one side of your mouth, you said, "run away" and on the other side, you said, use it to communicate with teens on their own terms. Phil. 4:8 should be our guideline. I agree it is a terrible seduction for some and that makes it something to completely avoid and never recommend, as to who is to decide when you will be vulnerable - we are all prone to fall. I have no problem with accountability logging on to check up on our teens but not to ever endorse it. Unfortunately, it is a hotly, debated pleasure and the source of offense to the teens we ask to not participate in myspace. But we cannot let up - we cannot speak out of both sides of our mouth. Clearly, if we search for scripture to guide our actions, we'd only recommend things completely wholesome. So, we can confidently say, "You shouldn't be there." just a humble opinion, -Anonymous

JONATHAN'S RESPONSE
I appreciate your humble opinion. But I have to question your conclusions. First, I never endorsed "recommending" the site. As a matter of fact, I cautioned against it. Here are my exact words from the article:
One of the difficult situations youth workers are facing is the balance between using the site and trying not to endorse it. Using MySpace is not a sin. But let's be honest, it is an arena that we may not want to encourage kids to explore. I encourage you to pray carefully before even using this tool. The youth workers I know who use MySpace don't talk about it Sunday a.m. or Wednesday nights. They don't want kids who are NOT current MySpace users to get the feeling from church that they SHOULD be on MySpace. So tread these waters carefully.
As for your reasoning about it being a seduction for some, so "that makes it something to completely avoid" ... I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing that as "clearly" as you. So I'll "confidently" ask you: Do you have a TV? Because you don't want to speak out of one side of your mouth and say "you shouldn't be there" about a certain web address, and then speak out of the other side of your mouth and say, "But this channel is okay." I recommend that you make sure and block ABC on your cable box, because Desperate Housewives is on that channel and some people might struggle with that show. As you know, ABC is the "address" that the show resides at, so block the whole channel (After all, to only not watch one show would be like only blocking certain risqu? MySpace pages. We all know that there are innocent shows and innocent MySpace pages, but there are bad ones on each as well. So let's block the whole address and the whole channel!). But make sure that everyone in your church blocks it, because, according to you, It is a terrible seduction for some and that makes it something to completely avoid." Oh... and have everyone block FOX from their cable box also, because I'm sure some people struggle with The O.C. (Sorry, that also means no more American Idol either) Wait... I'm just getting started. Also block CBS, because a lot of people struggle with Two and a Half Men. What the heck-we might as well all block NBC, the WB, MTV and The Comedy Channel because they have Las Vegas, Everwood, Laguna Beach and Chappelle's Show. And if by chance there is anyone in your church that has an alcohol problem and doesn't drive down State Street because there is a bar on that street... make sure that NO ONE from your church drives down that street, because, "It is a terrible seduction for some and that makes it something to completely avoid." I think you get my point... it came from the middle of my mouth. -Jonathan


STIMULATED TO THINK:
Jonathan -I can tell you put a lot of thought into this article about MySpace. Thanks for that-if youth workers read it, I think they'll really be challenged to think! -Scott


THANKFUL:
Jonathan - great work on this article. I know the kids I work with were all over myspace so I got on too! I have an account post stuff about our events and chat with kids all the time through messages and posting comments. I can't help but think that they know that I look at what is posted on their sites and I am there to chat with so it kind of helps them out. Overall monitoring myspace or anything else isn't the solution - the solution is helping our friends learn how to filter and make sound Biblical decisions based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but now I am just preaching to the choir! -Brent

JONATHAN'S RESPONSE
Amen brotha. Your last three lines sum it all up. Next time I think I'll have you write the article. ? -Jonathan


USING IT:
YO man! I have written you before about how much I love what you're doing. I wanted to write you and let you know that I just read your article about myspace.com. Great job! I use myspace in my ministry for promotion and getting to know the students in the community around me. I am also using this site to get back in touch with kids I went to school with, kids that I witnessed to growing up that hopefully this will help me continue that witness. It has worked for me so far, but I am very aware of the dangers it has. Thank you Jonathan again, for helping us youth pastors out! -Adam


ANGRY 16-YEAR-OLD:
I happened upon your article regarding myspace whilst I was browsing various other narrow-minded forums and news sites, but I have to say that your article really takes the biscuit. Frankly, the reason kids are turning to myspace is because of the kinds of attitude you people have. I am 16 and have 2 younger brothers and a sister, who ALL use myspace. What you dont seem to understand is that myspace is one of the few places that kids and teenagers feel comfortable, merely because you people dont have control. I think that is the way it should stay. I control our local network in my house and I will tell you that on our network there are absolutely NO barred sites. This is a concept that you people seem not to understand - trust. I will tell you that my brothers and sisters are the best behaved and morally intelligent kids I know. This comes from good parenting. If people are unable to offer the moral reasons for not surfing for porn or talking to random people then they are not good parents. People who shelter their children are not good parents. I apologise for the lack of structure to this email but I was pretty angry when I wrote it after reading your article. I will confess - I don't know the way your social structure works in America, but it seems to me that here in Britain parents are much more accepting and open minded than you. Im not being racist or whatever you want to accuse me of, but the social structure in your country needs to mature - fast, or else you are all going to lose your children's respect. I do feel for you and I understand your concern, but it really is blown entirely out of proportion. One last thing I noted about your site - your motto: "Helping Youth Workers Reach Kids". I find that higly ironic, as all you seem to be doing is pushing them in entirely the wrong direction. Don't block your kids socialising, research it, try to understand it. Thats how you will get closer to the kids you want to help. I thank you for your time, and I hope you at least take into consideration some of the things I have said. -Joe.

JONATHAN'S RESPONSE
Joe... is there a place that I can return the biscuit? I didn't even know I took it.


UNAWARE BUT STILL DISAGREEING:
Jonathan, I appreciate your article this week and the week previous. I was mostly unaware of the MySpace epidemic that has recently consumed our teenagers. However, I feel it is necessary to disagree with you on some of the stands you have taken. Your argument that -kids are going to hear about myspace one way or another, so I would prefer that they do it with me present in order to keep an eye on them- just won't suffice. I ask you, where do you draw the line? There is an endless amount of things that teens can gain access to "one way or another". That doesn't make them any less dangerous or wrong. Would we allow our kids to "learn discernment" with marijuana as long as we are there to keep an eye on them. Certainly not. All that does is fuel the myth that Christian teens need to sample the world and all it has to offer, so that they might be better Christians. I am all for adding understanding to knowledge. Teaching teens "why" not to do something is just as important as teaching them not to do it in the first place. But surely you wouldn't place your sons hand on a hot stove to help him learn "discernment" in that area. Your other argument, that Jesus would be where the sinners are, I believe is true. But are you really likening our teens to the Son of God. I know that the name Christian suggests that we strive for Christ likeness, but there are ways to "be where the sinners are" without getting caught up in the sin with them. I'm sorry but I don't think this is a temptation teens can resist. We are supposed to be guarding them from the pathway to sin, not holding the gate for them. MySpace was setup by worldly people who do not care about righteous living or our teens, and that is fine. You can't expect the world to act any other way but like a lost person. However, you should expect and demand that Christians, regardless of age, act like Christians. -Jared

JONATHAN'S RESPONSE
Jared... you mentioned that you were mostly unaware of the MySpace epidemic. I'd encourage you to check it out for yourself before you make your judgments...because you just compared MySpace to Marijuana or a hot stove. I think you need to be careful with your reasoning ... it's starting to make CLEARLY DISAPPOINTED's reaction above sound logical.

Realize that there are two polar reactions that we can have to MySpace: 1. We can shrug our shoulders and let kids do whatever they want. 2. We can ban MySpace completely because it is "the devil!" I don't think either is the answer. But I think if you re-read my article, you'll find that I am a little closer to #2 than number one. I actually went as far as to say that I don't think any kids under 16 should be on it. That's pretty extreme (that's what made the 16-year-old above so mad). But I think it would be foolish of me to make a blanket statement that "MySpace is just wrong!" (Funny, the 16-year-old didn't give me any props for that!)

You actually nailed the issue in your response to my article. You asked, "Where do you draw the line?" Sorry, I don't think it's my place to tell you or parents where that line is. I went as far as to give you all the information and the dangers... and I told you that my personal answer as a parent was "No. I've blocked the site for right now." So you might want to be careful who you accuse of putting their son's hand on a hot stove.

Addressing your argument about me "likening teens to the Son of God." Sorry, you need to read again. I wasn't comparing Christ to our teens. I was talking about how youth workers need to follow Christ's example and go where the sinners are. But only with extreme caution and accountability. Here's my exact words:

And that's the catch, isn't it. How can youth workers use MySpace without putting themselves in vulnerable situations? Let's be honest. Some of us might need to block MySpace from our own computers and only log on when we're with a co-worker or spouse in the room.
Jared, I appreciate your heart for doing what's right. I hope you never change. But be careful with blanket statements. I know several parents of 17 and 18 year olds who use MySpace with their kids, and I haven't observed them "holding the gate" to the "pathway of sin." These parents have actually done an incredible job at teaching their kids discernment in numerous areas of their lives including media, relationships and who they choose to hang out with. Each parent needs to make that decision. I hope my articles help them do that. I hope they help you make those decisions as well. -Jonathan


DEFENSELESS:
Dear Jonathan, This article was emailed to me by a friend and it is one of the best "forwards" I've ever received. Not only am I a mother of a 14 year old daughter (with a myspace) and 10 year old son, I am a Christian school teacher who struggles to deal with these issues with sixth graders. Thanks for your well written and informative article. I am rarely moved to respond to articles but this is such an epidemic in the world I live and work in and I feel unarmed and defenseless in a huge battle for the lives of our tweens and teens. -Tonya

JONATHAN'S RESPONSE
Tonya- thanks for your response. I hope the article helped "arm you" for this battle. You aren't defenseless with your own kids-you have control over what they watch and listen to. Talk with your kids about this. A 14 year old is pretty vulnerable in a MySpace world. "No" is not a bad answer. After prayer and research, make your decision and explain it to your daughter. But continue to be proactive in your relationship with your daughter. Rules without a relationship can lead to rebellion. -Jonathan


WANTING TO BE PURE:
Jonathan, I recently created an account with myspace.com to "get in the game." It's been great for networking with my kids, but I am getting tired of the "find naughty singles" advertisements every time I go to my profile page. I'm also tired of getting invited to be friends with girls I don't know who are scantily clad. In general, it seems that I can't be on myspace.com without being tempted in a way that I am scared of. I'm probably going to close my account soon. I thought you might want to know my experience as you complete your next article. I'm really interested in hearing what you have to say, because I really want to be relevant and I really want to be pure at the same time. -David

JONATHAN'S RESPONSE
David, Thanks for your honesty. I think you're doing the right thing. Cancel it. Or, set up an account that you only use once a week with several of your staff gathered around the computer checking out your kid's pages together. Only access the site with accountability or just skip it all together. -Jonathan


USING IT AS A TOOL:
Loved the myspace article, we have had a ton of kids come to shows and youth events because of myspace. We USE it as a tool! Josh


BLOCKING IT:
I would agree that myspace.com should be blocked from computers. We came upon this space after a teen friend came to live with us and after browsing the site came across very disturbing pictures and language. Thanks for taking the time to write these worthwhile articles. -Anonymous


ACCESSING IT, BUT NOT ENDORSING IT
Hey jonathan, Thanks so much for the insightful articles the past couple of weeks. I appreciate your spirit of really trying to research both sides of the ?myspace' issue from a ministry aspect. A few months ago I created a myspace account. It's been an encouragement at times (to see kids who seem to actually live one life) and a heart breaker at times to see students who think they can say some awful things on there. As someone who's struggle through my high school life and college life was pornography, that has been the biggest downside for me with myspace. The ads. After realizing that those ads were popping up more often than not...I now only access myspace either in my office (my computer monitor faces my door with traffic going by frequently) OR at my home while my wife's around. That for me is the only reason I haven't used myspace as a youth group website, simply because I couldn't control the ads that popped up while students were visiting our youth group website...nothing like doing your yearly ?sex series' and having a visual made up FOR you. Thanks again for your insight...I'll be including your article in our next month parents newsletter. -Phil

JONATHAN'S RESPONSE
Phil, I'm glad to hear about your discernment. I'm glad our article was a resource for you.


AMAZED:
I wanted to personally thank you for your last two articles about the myspace website. I had heard some about it, but had not gone to check out the site myself. WOW!!!! What an eye opener. I really like the fact as a youth pastor, I can almost look into the soul of teenagers from my group. Some I am sad to say was very shocking in a bad way. But at the same time this is a great tool, that is another way to connect with my kids and allows me to get a TRUE glimpse into their own lives. I really appreciate the fact that you are not so quick to try and boycott things or speak so negatively, but instead you try to look for the positives and find what good can come from something that is already HUGE in our culture. -Jeff

(If you don't receive this free EZINE already, CLICK HERE to sign up!)

Jonathan McKee is president of The Source for Youth Ministry and author of the new book "Do They Run When They See You Coming? Reaching Out to Unchurched Teenagers." This book helps us better understand youth culture today, and equips us to reach out to an unchurched generation (CLICK HERE FOR THE BOOK). Jonathan studies youth culture and trends, speaking and training across the country and providing free online resources, training, & ideas for youth workers at www.TheSource4YM.com


Something You Can Use: Black Light Dodgeball, Nuclear Football, and Other Glow Games and Events

Here are a bunch of BLACK LIGHT or GLOW ideas that you can use as games or events.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Notice that opinions seem to vary about what actually works or glows. My 2 cents is to test it yourself before the day of the event. Enjoy!

Black Light Dodgeball
Hang black lights in the gym and use black light reflective tape on the court lines and the balls (spray paint can fade by the end of the game, then you can't see the balls). Have the kids wear white shirts and socks so they have clear targets to hit with the balls.
Added by Lisa Baer

Nuclear Ultimate Football Event
This could cost some money- but will usually pay for itself if you can bring out enough kids and charge $3 to $5 a kid. Purchase around 25 to 50 glow sticks, 5 to 10 strands of little Christmas lights, one glow in the dark necklace per person playing and several Nerf "Luminator" series footballs. They are each powered by nine volt batteries and are around $15 a football. Take your crew out to a dark field, build an end zone and playing field with Christmas lights and glow sticks for sidelines. Split into two teams (different colored necklaces). Play ultimate Frisbee rules with the footballs. This event is an incredible visual image and something they will never forget.

Black Light Volleyball
Hang black lights in the gym. Instruct all participants to wear all black, white sox and to bring an extra pair of white socks. Spray paint a volleyball with glow in the dark/black light sensitive paint. Play volleyball with the people wearing the socks on their hands and the lights off in the gym.
Added by Adam Gross

Black Light Basketball
Get two black lights and set them up at mid court. Have everyone wear a white shirt that night. Mark one team with electrical tape on their shoulders so they know who has what team.

Make sure to get a glow-in-the-dark basketball and then hang red glow sticks on one rim and green glow sticks on the other rim. Caution: the first time I tried this I used a normal basketball wrapped in reflective tape but the tape just reflected the black in the black light.
Added by Mike Valovcin


We're Giving Away Hundreds of Last Year's CD's: We're clearing out our 2005 OUTREACH RESOURCE CD's by giving them away with ANY book order



We've only got a few hundred of last year's 2005 Outreach Resource CD's left and we're clearing them out!

Why do you care?


Good question: because we're giving away one of the greatest resources for training your leaders, both student and adult, to reach out to "the unchurched."

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT THIS BOOK AND CD

A GREAT RESOURCE TO MOTIVATE AND EQUIP YOUR LEADERS
One of the great resources on last year's 2005 Outreach Resource CD is the "ready-made" PowerPoint seminar called "Reaching Out to the Unchurched." You can use this 38 slide PowerPoint presentation to teach your student and adult leaders about the mindset of "The Unchurched" today. This presentation parallels chapter 3 in Jonathan McKee's hit book, DO THEY RUN WHEN THEY SEE YOU COMING? published by Youth Specialties.
  • LEARN THE TOP 5 BELIEFS THAT RESONATE IN TODAYS POSTMODERN, PAGANISTIC, AND PLURALISTIC SOCIETY

  • LEARN HOW MTV, MOVIES, MUSIC AND CELEBRITIES AFFECT YOUTH CULTURE AND ARE A MEGAPHONE FOR THESE 5 BELIEFS
  • DISCOVER THE GOOD NEWS ... THERE IS HOPE IN REACHING THIS GENERATION.
"Do They Run When They See You Coming" is recommended by Mark Oestreicher, Bo Boshers, Jim Burns, Kurt Johnston, Walt Mueller, Chap Clark, Wayne Rice, and more!


CLICK HERE TO ORDER THIS BOOK AND GET THE FREE CD


"Reaching Out to the Unchurched" Training on Both Coasts: If you?re near TAMPA or Livermore, CA-check out these affordable training opportunities!

A TRAINING OPPORTUNITY YOU WON'T WANT TO MISS: Last year Youth Specialties released Jonathan's hit new book, DO THEY RUN WHEN THEY SEE YOU COMING? REACHING OUT TO UNCHURCHED TEENAGERS. (CLICK HERE FOR THE BOOK) Now it is available as a one day training! Come to this affordable training on either U.S. Coast!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT THIS TRAINING

...OR REGISTER NOW FOR THIS TRAINING IN THE FOLLOWING CITIES!

Tampa, FL

May 20th, Jonathan is doing a Saturday workshop (9AM to 3PM) for youth workers within driving distance of the TAMPA area. If you're a youth worker, paid or a volunteer, this is for you!

A Personal Note from Jonathan: I'd love your help! If you are a youth worker in the TAMPA area and would like to help me spread the word to the greater Tampa area, please email me at jon@TheSource4YM.com

Here's the details for this TAMPA training:

WHEN:
    Saturday May 20th, 9AM to 3PM
WHERE:
    St. James United Methodist Church
    16202 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. (3/4 mile south of I-75)
    Tampa, FL 33647
COST:
    Two choices:
    • $20 (includes lunch)
    • ONLY $10 for paid pre-registrations (VISA/MC accepted) on or before May 15th (includes lunch)
TO REGISTER:
    CONTACT David Smith at (813) 978-8880
Livermore, CA

Jonathan will be doing his REACHING OUT TO THE UNCHURCHED training seminar at the INVIGORATE conference this year in Livermore, California on May 6, 2006. This Saturday conference is only $15 including lunch if you register by April 1st. All youth workers, both paid and volunteer are welcome. Please call (925) 455-4250 to register.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ABOUT THIS TRAINING WORKSHOP




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