As another school year rapidly approaches, I’ve found myself thinking about two different pictures of youth ministry.
One of the things that my teens most enjoy talking about is science and faith. Note that I said talking about; Not debating. Having facilitated this conversation a number of times in the past, I wanted to freshen up my approach with some fresh...
Recently, we took our newborn baby girl, Kendall, to worship for the first time. Several people stopped us on the way into worship, which meant that despite our best efforts, we didn’t actually make it into worship on time. Despite this, we went...
A pastor friend who read my book, A Mission That Matters, recently wondered, “When is the right time for me to go to ‘the ends of the earth’ and lead an international trip for my congregation?”
It’s a good question and one that’s not easy to...
My four-year-old daughter, Hope, LOVES taking pictures. I mean LOVES it. Spend a moment scrolling through our phones and you’ll typically see three types of photos:
1. Those obviously taken by my husband and I, typically featuring our family or...
After beginning my new role as the Minister of Youth and Family at my congregation last summer, I immediately examined the vision for the ministry I’d inherited. While I didn’t find it particularly compelling, I knew the best thing I could do was...
When Hope turned two, she began asking questions about communion, which wasn’t surprising since she’d gone forward to the communion rail with...
After finishing Alia Joy’s Glorious Weakness, I Instagramed a photo of the book with the caption, “Hands down the best Christian book I’ve read in a long time.”
That’s not a statement I make lightly.
I read a lot of Christian books – some for...
There’s a fairly common perception in the youth ministry world that graduated seniors are a critical part of a mission trip and as such, should be honored accordingly during such a trip (with things like special anointings or opportunities just...
My daughter, Hope, recently turned four. Of course, we wanted to celebrate her well, with a duo of Frozen themed parties, one for friends and family, and one for a handful of her school friends.
Having gone to a number of toddler parties in...
The other day, I was asked whether confirmation should be held in the spring or fall – a common question for congregations that offer confirmation. There are pros and cons to each practice.
Confirming teens in the spring gives families a sense of...
I blogged recently about 5 marks of a justice-focused trip and was immediately bombarded by questions about where you find such a trip. Youth workers immediately jump to this question: "Which mission trip organizations are focused on justice ...
At a recent mission trip meeting, my teens wrestled with whether or not our summer mission trip currently focuses on serving others (meeting needs) or on enacting justice (recognizing, understanding, and addressing systemic brokenness).
Since taking a new call, my responsibilities have expanded to include youth and family ministry. As such, I’ve become much more intentional about ministering to parents than I ever have been before. I’ve also become much more aware of resources...
A student recently told me, “We used to like going on the mission trip because it was relaxed. There were no rules.”
She was referring to a mission trip I inherited.
Truth be told, I’d suspected this was the case for a while but never had someone...
I live in Barrington, in the shadow of Willow Creek. I’ve long been familiar with the service they offer called, “The Practice”. As a youth worker in the ELCA, I’m intrigued by an evangelical community dabbling in a more liturgical style of...
I’ve lost track of the number of times in my career in youth ministry when a high school senior has confronted me because they don’t like the direction our ministry is going. This confrontation always comes after a transition – usually within the...
In my work as a youth pastor, I consistently use a variety of commentaries to prep discussions for my midweek high school program as well as to prepare for my preaching responsibilities on Sunday. Since we follow the narrative lectionary, I knew...
I’ve been a fan of Matthew Paul Turner ever since he wrote ADULT books. Back in the day, his book, Relearning Jesus, made for great fodder with my student leadership team. I’ll admit, when he switched to writing children’s books, I was a bit...
I still begin most of our youth ministry’s gatherings with a game.
Even though some youth ministries have moved away from games, I haven’t. When chosen well, unusual games are not only fun, but they also help move teens out of their comfort...
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
- Will you let your shoes fly in welcome?
- Review: Mere Science and Christian Faith by Greg Cootsona
- Teaching kids to like worship
- When Should You Take an International Mission Trip?
- Picture Rules for Mission Trips
- Review: The Power of Vision by George Barna
- Yay! Jesus Bread!
- Review: Glorious Weakness by Alia Joy
- Why you shouldn't build mission trips around seniors
- Why opening presents is an important part of toddler birthday parties
- Should you confirm in the spring or the fall?
- 6 ways to make a service-oriented mission trip more justice focused
- 5 marks of a justice-focused mission trip
- Review: Parenting Beyond the Rules by Connie Albers
- 4 reasons why rules are important
- Review: The Eternal Current by Aaron Niequist
- To those who think youth group is no longer fun
- Review: Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount and His Confrontation with the World by D.A. Carson
- Review: When I Pray For You by Matthew Paul Turner
- In defense of games