“I have to go get my guys!” my two-year old daughter, Hope, told me as I began reading the Christmas story to her during our morning devotion. A few minutes later she returned with her Fisher Price nativity set and proceeded to act out the...
Not long ago, I sat in worship thinking “Every aspect of this service has been entirely about me.” That week, it felt like worship pointed not to Jesus, but to me.
I’m pretty sure that a few months earlier, I would not have been so acutely aware...
As a young youth worker, once I figured out that I shouldn’t be writing my own curriculum, I’d spend hours pouring over existing curriculum, trying to figure out what to teach the teens entrusted to my care.
I had no idea what I was looking for in...
In college, I worked as a Resident Advisor in a dorm, for which I received a very tiny monthly stipend. Some months, I spent my entire stipend at the local Christian bookstore buying Christian fiction. I adored Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers,...
I adored this youth ministry and its curriculum. It was solid theologically, incredibly creative, and designed specifically to...
My youth ministry did the 30 Hour Famine last week. It went well. Very well, in fact. Unfortunately, I felt like my colleagues didn't notice it, let alone affirm my role in it. This was disheartening to me – a fact that I hate.
Yet, what I’m...
It was my due date the first time I was pregnant. Only I never made it that far. Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, I miscarried and my world shattered.
Even now, nearly four years later, I still grieve that day. More often...
Much to my delight, my daughter, Hope, loves to read. We read in the morning, in the afternoon, and before bed. The other day, we even caught her reading while she was trying to go potty.
This girl likes books – a fact that couldn’t make me...
“Mama, do you need me?” my 2-year old daughter, Hope, cried from the living room.
The truth is, I didn’t.
When Hope cried out to me, I was cooking dinner – making homemade mac & cheese out of squash. I had two boiling pans on the stove and the...
Mission trips to Rwanda have made me interested in east Africa. For that reason, I was excited to read Katie Davis Majors’ Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful.
In Daring to Hope, Katie shares stories from her...
During a recent organizational assessment I did through Arbor Research Group, I asked one of the ministry’s leaders how critical it was for his staff to recruit and equip adult leaders. In response, he said, “When they get their job description,...
Christmas has always stressed me out. That stress has only worsened since I became a mom.
For that reason, I was intrigued by Alexandra Kuykendall’s Loving My Actual Christmas: An Experiment in Relishing the Season. In this book, Alexandra sets...
The event’s due date passed and my numbers were bleak.
Worse, I simply hadn’t heard from the majority of people in my youth ministry.
Were they not interested?
Did they have plans?
Had they simply forgotten to turn in the forms?
That night, I...
A few years ago, I participated in one of The Youth Cartel’s Youth Ministry Coaching Programs, which was a great investment in my leadership development. Among other things, I loved getting to rub shoulders with great youth workers and learning...
I have faint memories of reading Corduroy as a child.
So, when someone gave us Corduroy at my daughter’s baby shower, I was delighted, eager to share the adorable bear with the missing button with my daughter.
What I didn’t remember from my...
My student leaders waffled between God the Creator and Jesus the Savior before one eventually suggested, “I...
An increasing body of research suggests that young people are leaving the church. Churchgoers don’t need the research to tell them what they see playing out in their own congregations.
As a person of faith, I care deeply about this phenomenon. As...
On Sunday, I watched one of my former students, Marcy, preach in my congregation – the congregation where she grew up. She stood at the pulpit, full of grace, and gave a beautiful message on Exodus 16:2-15.
Among other things, what...
To do this, I’m intentional about making sure my students open a Bible and dig into Scripture at each gathering we have. I’m also intentional about giving away Bibles.
The last six weeks have been challenging.
The transition at my church continues to be difficult.
My daughter started preschool and while she’s thriving, adapting our schedules has been rough for all of us.
Multiple people in my husband’s family...
Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry
Jen serves as the Minister of Youth and Family at Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel), The Real Jesus (The Youth Cartel), Unleashing the Hidden Potential of Your Student Leaders (Abingdon), and A Mission That Matters (Abingdon). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. Jen is also the Assistant Director of Arbor Research Group where she has led many national studies. When not doing ministry or research, she and her husband, Doug, and daughter, Hope, can be found traveling and enjoying life together.More about Jen
A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm
Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders
The Real Jesus
The Jesus Gap
What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus
Based on National Research
- Sending Ritual for College Students
- Seven Things the Church Can Learn from The Babysitters Club
- 6 things I learned from virtual VBS
- 17 Keys to Making Virtual VBS a Success
- Is this the end of short-term missions?
- A sanitized MLK
- 8 reasons why our youth ministry isn't regathering
- Is the church going extinct?
- I hope they'll listen
- Notes from the Pandemic: Exhaustion
- Notes from the Pandemic: Mentioning the Unmentionables
- Notes from the Pandemic: Self-sacrifice
- Life from death
- On dance classes, motivation, & $50 costumes
- What Nancy taught me
- Church homes
- The goal of politics
- Notes from the Pandemic: Eyes to See
- Notes from the Pandemic: Excitement - A familiar but unexpected emotion
- Notes from the Pandemic: Anger & Grace