Because we are not gathering in person, we offered this as...
The first author book signing I ever went to was for Ann M. Martin – author of The Babysitters Club. To say I was in love with this series as a kid is an understatement. It fostered my love of reading AND contributed to my desire to become an ...
My congregation held virtual VBS a couple of weeks ago. As I’ve continued to reflect on the experience, I keep returning to these six things I learned from virtual VBS:
1. The problem isn’t Zoom. Four months into this pandemic, you’ve no doubt...
In late April and early May, my VBS leaders and I began wrestling with what to do with VBS this year. We felt skeptical that things would be open enough for us to offer in-person VBS. We felt even more skeptical that people would come if we did...
I was supposed to be on a mission trip last week.
With the exception of the two summers I was on maternity leave, this is the first time since 2003 that I haven’t spent my summers leading mission trips.
Mission trips are – for so many junior...
Over the last few weeks, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about Martin Luther King Jr.
As a kid, MLK was the ONE black man I learned about in a positive way. He was the pastor who gave the “I have a dream” speech and who advanced the notion of...
As states reopen, the conversations are raging in youth ministry circles about when and how to “reopen” our youth ministries.
My youth ministry will not be regathering this summer.
I'm using that word, regather, intentionally because even though...
Perhaps in the last few weeks, you’ve seen a meme like this one:
I certainly have.
Between the pandemic, the murder hornets, the killing of another black man, the protests, and the riots, I've heard more people than ever before say something...
Hope is very into party planning right now.
Yesterday, she planned a carnival for our family to participate in, complete with individual tickets for each activity – tickets she spent two hours making.
One of the carnival activities was CHALK,...
This week has broken me.
It’s left me feeling exhausted.
And I’m someone who knows what exhaustion feels like.
I’ve felt the complete and utter exhaustion that defines a first trimester...
As a parent, I, like so many, want to shelter my girls from the horrors of the world. At 10-months old and 5-years-old, they are, after all, still so young.
Yet, the reality is that Hope (the 5-year-old) hears EVERYTHING… And she asks questions...
Although I grew up in the church and was taught that Jesus sacrificed himself for my sins on the cross, I didn't really learn about self-sacrifice until twenty years ago when I was a summer staffer for YouthWorks Missions.
That summer, I was told...
As we stood at my mother-in-law’s casket, my nearly two-year-old nephew chased my four-year-old daughter around the empty funeral home room – something they could do since, thanks to the COVID-19 restrictions, the room was empty except for us.
At the start of the New Year, we signed our then 4-year old daughter, Hope, up for a dance class at the local park district.
Hope LOVES to dance. We’ve known that for a while and figured this would be a fun way for her to learn some skills and...
The weekend after I miscarried, my mother and father-in-law, Nancy & Keith, showed up at our house.
Truth be told, I didn’t want them there.
I didn’t want anyone there.
I was knee-deep in some of the most profound sadness I’d ever...
In every church I’ve ever been on staff at, we've inevitably wrestled with the question, “Who belongs?”
Oh, we never say it like that.
Instead, we raise questions like, “Who is active here? Who worships here? Or who gives an offering here?”
As I’ve scrolled Facebook in the days of the Pandemic, I’ve been increasingly struck by my desire to engage with people who share my beliefs and disengage from those who don’t.
I’m continually frustrated by one friend in particular and their...
Context is everything.
As a ministry professional, I’ve had this instilled into me for years. Even so, I’ve never seen this quite as clearly as I have since the pandemic began.
Because we’re safe-at-home, unable to go places, feeling a myriad of...
Yesterday, I met (virtually) with my VBS leaders to reimagine this summer’s VBS. When I ended the meeting, I genuinely felt excited.
What’s funny is I almost didn’t recognize that feeling.
It’s been SO long since I’ve felt excited about anything....
Emotions are an interesting thing during quarantine.
It seems like on any given day, I feel ALL the emotions...STRONGLY. Sometimes I can process WHY I’m feeling what I’m feeling. Other times, I simply can’t.
Naturally, through no fault of their...
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