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...
In college, I invested in a study Bible that I loved. I used that study Bible until it literally fell apart. It served me well… including during my first, tenuous days as a youth pastor when I felt as though I was consistently in over my head...
Given this, when is the best time to hold your mission trip meetings?
If you’re in a...
A mission trip adult leader recently mentioned that my predecessor believed that every student (and their friends) should participate in a mission trip. As a result, for years, my church has filled a coach bus with 40-50 students and headed out...
Ever since reading Small Talk and A Good and Perfect Gift , I’ve been a fan of Amy Julia Becker. Because of this, I was excited to read her new book, White Picket Fences: Turning Toward Love in a World Divided by Privilege.
My three-year-old daughter, Hope, LOVES Legos. A friend got her a Lego kit for Christmas and she and my husband did it in one fell swoop. I’m honestly not sure who had more fun: her or my husband. Because of Hope’s interest in Legos, I was excited...
With Halloween on a Wednesday, many youth workers have wrestled with whether or not to hold youth group. Of course, this isn’t the only time we face this dilemma. We also wrestle with this in instances of bad weather, over winter break, and during...
I am a bookworm. For as long as I can remember, books have been my love language. My dad used to joke he’d have to buy the house next door to ours in order to house all my books. Sometimes, I think my husband feels the same way. Because of my love...
I have a three-year old.
As Christmas approaches and I choose gifts for her, I’m constantly looking at the age recommendations of toys. I do so because I want to know if a toy is developmentally appropriate for her. If I give my daughter a toy...
The man from Food for the Hungry walked onto the stage.
“Do you believe in hope?” he yelled.
The crowd of Christian concert goers replied with raucous cheers.
That’s when he said it - The line that made me sink down in my seat and cringe.
How and what we say affects what we believe. I saw this in my research for The Jesus Gap, which found that 73% of the language used by high school students to answer the question, “Who is Jesus?” was creedal in origin. I was further convinced of...
When I finally decided to leave my old job – a job I loved and was very comfortable in – my new boss and I wrestled with my new title, eventually landing on Minister of Youth and Family. This role – one that was far more expansive than I’d had in...
In the church world, people talk about being “called” a lot. But what exactly does it mean to be called? Mark Labberton attempts to answer this very question in his book, Called: The Crisis and Promise of Following Jesus Today.
Adult leaders are the backbone of a healthy youth ministry. In order to effectively minister to teens, your ministry needs caring adult leaders. But what, precisely, should those caring adult leaders do?
Many youth ministries use adult leaders as...
My new book, A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm, is out! As a youth worker, I wholeheartedly believe that mission trips have the ability to impact teens in an incredibly transformative way. However,...
In the days following my miscarriage, several friends sent me links to people they’d found online who were writing about miscarriage. Adriel Booker was one of those people. Her words were like a lifeline to me. Not surprisingly, her book, Grace...
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