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Jonathan's Resource Ezine

Weekly Resources, Ideas and Articles from The Source for Youth Ministry
Tuesday, November 20, 2007

In This Issue

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Featured Article: Why I'm Not Going Back to that Youth Group-Confessions from a 14 Year Old

The following article from 14 year old Alec McKee appears in the current issue of The Journal of Student Ministries. Take advantage of an opportunity at the end of this article where you can get five free issues of this magazine in print and a chance to win an iPhone with two years of free service, no strings attached!
Alec McKee
CONFESSIONS FROM A 14 YEAR OLD: Have you ever noticed how good memories always stick to your mind like glue? It feels like they are the strongest memories you have. But they aren't. Bad memories are stronger. That's why I'll never forget my experience with that youth group.

My grandfather and I were early, so he thought he would come in with me. I had been to the church before, but I hadn't been to the youth group yet, so I was uneasy about it. I knew that it would be different, and different can sometimes be scary.

As we entered the building I saw the youth pastor talking. My grandpa brought me up to him and introduced me, telling him that I was new. "Okay, how about you go on into that room over there," he said hastily as he motioned toward a large room.

I was taken aback a little, but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. I figured he must be really busy to blow off a newcomer like that.

When I entered the room, I immediately lost my nervousness about being among a new youth group. In fact, I thought it was pretty cool: It had a foosball table, a dartboard, and a HUGE T.V. So I thought, This is going to be great!

My excitement was short-lived, though. The dartboard was broken, the foosball table had no balls, and the T.V. wasn't used at all. No problem, though; I figured I could still be positive. After all, a church doesn't need too have a bunch of cool stuff in order to still be fun.

I still can meet some new people, I thought. But again I was disappointed. Out of probably 50 kids, just one friend I knew from school said hi, only to scurry back to his group of friends and forget about me completely. None of the others even said hi once. I began to feel quite alone, feeling like I really didn't belong there.

Then the youth pastor came up front saying, "All right, guys, lets get started." Everyone got up and started moving somewhere in the room. I didn't know where to go, and no one told me. At this point I just felt stupid-I was the only one who didn't know what to do.

Like a brainless sheep, I copied everyone around me. I was the last one to sit down. Everyone had a place and a purpose here-everyone but me. Again I heard the malevolent voice echo in my head, "You don't belong here..."

Fortunately the youth pastor began his talk, so I became too bored to care.

I wish I could tell you something the youth pastor talked about that day, but I honestly don't remember a thing. All I remember was that he sat on his stool in front of us for the entire hour and talked...and talked...and talked.

After what seemed like years, I apparently started to fall asleep-until I heard the youth pastor say, "Let us pray." At last! That meant the youth service was almost over!

At that point I just had to wait in the youth room for my grandpa to take me home. Waiting at the place where he said he'd meet me, I sat like a loyal dog waiting for his master to come home. Yet, still no one talked with me. I wished I'd told my Grandpa that I'd meet him at the car.

In that hour and fifty-two minutes, only one person talked to me.

When I think back to that day, I can't help but wonder about some what-ifs. What if I had never gone to church before and that was my first impression of church? Would I have wanted to come back? What if I had brought one of my non-Christian friends to church that week? How would I be able to repair the damage of that first impression? What if I'd been a kid without a solid family and another group of supportive Christian friends, and I'd gone there desperate for someone to reach out to me?

What can that group do to stop these "What ifs" from happening? What can your group do? What can you do personally?

I think that youth group could have done one little thing and it would make a world of difference. They could've paid attention to the new kid in class. Out of all the emotions that I felt in the youth group, loneliness was by far the strongest. Sure, the speaker was boring. Sure, they could have made it more fun. But if they would've just been nice to me that day, I bet I wouldn't have noticed the other stuff.

When youth groups make an effort to make the new kid feel welcome and accepted, they can change that kid's opinion of church, Christians, and God. An atmosphere of hospitality can make all of the difference.

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Youth Culture Window: What I Learned From Watching Commercials-How Truth's anti-tobacco campaign can help youth workers shape their message

By David Smith

WARNING: Youth workers who have recently added TiVo capabilities to their 84" HD plasma screen television to avoid pesky commercials run two significant risks: one, you will now be the official host site for all Super Bowl outreach parties, and two, you just might be skipping over an important lesson that could change the way you share the Gospel.

For you other poor schlubs that are forced to wait through the advertisements, you've no doubt seen the "truth" commercials starring the tall guy with the insanely large glasses that sticks it to Big Tobacco. His name is Derrick and he is willing to go to any length to accomplish his mission of reducing the number of teenage smokers by exposing the tobacco company's poisonous product and potentially questionable marketing tactics.

Believing that tobacco companies have ruthlessly targeted children in the past, Derrick dressed up as a life-sized puppet to expose children's vulnerability to any message from cartoon-like characters. To illustrate the potential dangers of tobacco use, he drew chalk outlines on the streets of New York, and stacked 1,200 body bags on sidewalks, representing the 1,200 people that die every day in tobacco-related deaths. He comically combated the tobacco company's promotion of "low tar" and "low nicotine" cigarettes, by shopping for "low-death bullets." Truth's tactics are poignant to say the least.

Truth's message is unique for two reasons. First, they craft some of the most creative commercials seen on television today. Secondly, they never tell teenagers what to do. NYC writer April Daley notes, "They don't tell teens to stop smoking. They just give the facts and trust teens to take away their own message. They're just ?truth.'"

You're probably wondering if these off-the-wall ads actually work.

In short, yes!

Research from 2000-2002 published by The American Journal of Public Health claims, "there were approximately 300,000 fewer youth smokers as a result of the ?truth' campaigns."

So what does this have to do with youth workers' task of sharing the Gospel? Maybe we can follow their example of successful advertising and improve the way we share our message.
  • Know your audience. Truth knows Gen Y's attention span is very short, so they restrict their ads to a mere 30 seconds. They also know where Gen Y hangs out. Truth's presence is routinely felt at concerts, in online social networks, and on youth-centered TV shows. Where is your audience and what is the best way to reach them?

  • Speak in pictures, not words, as often as you can. Truth's message is "innovative and dramatic." Chalk outlines, bullets, and body bags paint an unmistakable image in the minds of anyone who sees their ads. Is there a way you can introduce, or substitute, images into your message/talk/sermon or whatever you choose to call the typical word-based communication of youth ministry today to paint a better picture?

  • Allow the truth to speak the loudest. Truth's leading tactic is simple: present the facts (truth) with laser-like precision so that teenagers avoid smoking. The fact (truth) is not just the loudest voice in their message; it is the only voice in their message. Given that our truth sometimes requires explanation, how can you keep Christ's message of life transformation simple?

Are teenagers hearing your message?

Works Cited:
American Cancer Society
www.whudafxup.com
New Youth Connections
United States Center for Disease Control


New Podcast: Are "Programs" a Bad Thing? Jonathan, Brandon and Saddleback's Kurt Johnston talk about whether "programming" works

PODCAST "EPISODE 8" IS UP!
Listen to it for free on iTunes now! (CLICK HERE) Or, if you don't have iTunes already... jump on Apple's web page for a free download, then click on our podcast page.

EPISODE 8

Is Program a bad word? If so... how do we make "first contact" with kids today? Jonathan, Brandon and Saddleback's Jr. High Ministry Director Kurt Johnston wrestle with the effectiveness of "programming" in youth ministry today. Join them as they tackle some great questions like...
  • Does the word "programming" mean big lights, videos, smoke and a monster truck voice? Or is sitting around praying also a form of "program?" Kurt proposes a definition for the word "program" helping us take a closer look at the "stuff we do."

  • What is fun? Is a game "eating baby food out of a jar" fun and "small groups" not... or is the inverse true?

  • What part of "programming" are people resisting?

  • What is the difference between being "event driven" and simply using "program" as a tool?

Join Jonathan, Brandon and Kurt as they try to answer these questions, discuss examples of "programs" that work and speculate why they are effective.

CLICK HERE FOR OUR PODCAST PAGE


Thanksgiving Break Movie Reviews: Enchanted, Bee Movie, Live Free or Die Hard, Shrek the Third...

Looking to go to the theatre or rent any movies during the Thanksgiving break? Jonathan and Todd have added quite a few reviews to our MOVIE REVIEW page lately. Take a peek at their "2 cents" about these recent theatrical releases and rentals



THEATRICAL RELEASES

Enchanted Enchanted (11/21/2007)

Rated PG some scary images and mild innuendo.

Directed by Kevin Lima (Tarzan, A Goofy Movie)

Starring Patrick Dempsey, Amy Adams, Susan Sarandon...


Jonathan's Rating: Worth Buying

Definitely worth my best score. Enchanted was one of the most creative films I've seen in years.

A classic Disney fairytale collides with modern day New York City in a story about an animated princess (Adams) who is pushed into a magic well that transforms her into a real person who must make her way around New York City. Her innocence is only met with harsh real-world attitude until she finally encounters a good Samaritan, a handsome lawyer (Dempsey) and his six year old daughter. Meanwhile, an animated prince and a chipmunk transform as well, making the journey to try to bring the princess home.

It's nice to see something new. This film is creative, original and just plain fun. It combines romance, humor, and occasional musical elements in a movie that the whole family can watch.

CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THIS REVIEW



Bee Movie Bee Movie (11/02/2007)

Rated PG for mild suggestive humor, and a brief depiction of smoking.

Directed by Steve Hickner (Prince of Egypt) and Simon J. Smith

Starring Jerry Seinfeld, Ren?e Zellweger, Matthew Broderick, Patrick Warburton and Chris Rock


Todd's Rating: Rental

Bee Movie has some really funny moments, but unfortunately it is an average, forgettable movie.

The story centers on Barry B. Benson (Jerry Seinfeld), a bee who has just graduated from college and is looking for more than just the one career option: making honey. Normally reserved for Pollen Jocks, Barry gets a special trip outside the hive and into New York City. While out on the adventure of a lifetime, Barry gets into trouble and has his life saved by florist Vanessa (Ren?e Zellweger). As weird as it sounds, their relationship blossoms, and he discovers that humans harvest, sell and actually eat honey. So he does what any bee would do...he decides to sue the human race.

Seinfeld was, without a doubt, the funniest show in television history. The promos for Bee Movie with Jerry dressed as a giant bee...hilarious. The coming attractions promised a huge movie. But it was the disappointment that was huge. O.K., I'm willing to admit my expectations were way too high and I'm probably being a little harsh, but it was dreadfully average.

CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THIS REVIEW



RECENT RENTAL RELEASES

Live Free or Die Hard Live Free or Die Hard (11/20/2007)

PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, language, and a brief sexual situation.

Directed by Len Wiseman (Underworld, Underworld: Evolution)

Starring Steve Bruce Willis, Justin Long, Timothy Olyphant, Maggie Q, and Kevin Smith


Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy

Yippee Ki Yay!!

It's the beginning of the Fourth of July weekend when someone hacks into the computers of the United States infrastructure, threatening to shut down the entire nation. The FBI Director decides to round up all the usual hackers but because of the holiday weekend most of their agents are on vacation. So he instructs them to get local police officers to take care of it. Enter John McClane (Bruce Willis) who is assigned to bring in hacker Matt Farrell (Justin Long). But for McClane, the ordinary has a nasty habit of exploding into the extraordinary, leading him into the wrong place at the wrong time.

McClane has battled some pretty ruthless terrorists in the Die Hard franchise; this time around it is Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). Gabriel is a brilliant-but-disgruntled former government security expert bent on pulling off what hackers call a "fire sale" as in, everything must go! The plan is to simultaneously shut down all transit, financial and utility functions across the country and steal the collective wealth of the entire nation. Since McClane is "an analogue cop in a digital word", he'll need the help of Farrell and the Warlock (Kevin Smith) to save the day.

Die Hard was the first movie I bought and is still at the top on my all-time-favorite action movies list. So I was pumped to see the latest installment of the amazing franchise. In my opinion, Live Free or Die Hard did not disappoint.

CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THIS REVIEW



Shrek the Third Shrek the Third (11/13/2007)

Rated PG for some crude humor, suggestive content and swashbuckling action (yes--it actually said that).

Directed by Chris Miller (first time director)

Starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas


Jonathan's Rating: Worth Buying

Todd's Rating: Worth Buying

We are a big fan of the Shrek franchise and were not disappointed at all by the third installment.

Shrek the Third begins with Shrek's father-in-law, King Harold (John Cleese) dieing. Honestly, it was one of the funniest death scenes ever. Being the heir to the throne, Shrek (Mike Myers) is to assume rule of Far, Far Away. Unfortunately, his heart lies in the swamp and he is eager to return home with Princess Fiona (Cameron Diaz). So Shrek sets out on a new adventure with Donkey (Eddie Murphy) and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) to find Artie (Justin Timberlake), who is next in line for the throne, and return with him as King. Meanwhile back in Far, Far Away, Prince Charming (Rupert Everett) is still ticked off about his present situation and bands together with the villains to overthrow the kingdom. Princess Fiona and her princess girlfriends have to trade in their tiaras and kick butt until Shrek returns.

Todd's Word:
The Shrek films have appeared in several of my reviews as the benchmark in quality animated entertainment. The characters are smart, well-developed and just plain hilarious. The humor is edgy and often goes over the heads of my 5 and 9 year old. At times we are all laughing but for very different reasons.

Jonathan's Word:
I agree... the Shrek films really do deliver to all ages. I have numerous friends without kids who don't own any animated films... except Shrek. Shrek helped people cross over to animation. Shrek is to film what the Beastie Boys were to rap in the late 80's (Beastie opened the gates to rap for rockers everywhere. Hundreds of thousands of rockers owned no rap... but "Beastie.")

CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF THIS REVIEW



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