Archive for 2013


A few weeks ago, I visited our new members class in order to talk about our congregation's youth ministry.

None of the people in this class have high school aged kids and yet I went anyway, believing it's important for everyone in our...

What's on my bookshelves

One of the greatest gifts my Mom gave me is a love of reading. I grew up in a house that was loaded with books and I loved reading, even as a small child. 

Today, my house is the same way. We have books everywhere: Three dedicated shelves as...

Follow footsteps, not doctrine

There's a story in the Gospel of Matthew about a woman who hemorrhaged for twelve years.

It's not typically one we pay much attention to.

Why would we? In it's entirety, this woman's story comprises three verses. As with so many of her female...

Everyone Answers

My youth ministry discussion tanked on Sunday. Every question I asked fell flat. Despite my efforts to pry responses out of my students, they remained universally unengaged.

As a veteran youth worker, I know these days happen. Even so, they’re...

The homeless on the margins of our communities

Whenever I walk into my neighborhood library, I run into a man. His tattered clothes, long scraggly beard, and excess bags reveal his identity as a homeless man.

A few blocks away, I often see another homeless man sitting on a bench outside the...

Review: Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey

Jesus Fem Quote4

Like many of her fans, I fell in love with Sarah Bessey via her blog. Her writing is stunning; Her posts simultaneously heartfelt and provocative, oftentimes leaving me in both tears and deep thought.

Since I love her writing, I was thrilled to...

Four Ways to Celebrate Your Trip

Youth workers live busy lives. As soon as one trip or program ends, the next begins. So it is with mission trips.

As soon as you pull into the church parking lot at the end of your trip, inevitably someone asks, "Where are we going next year?" or...

Our Best Ministry Isn't Done By Us

I’ve been in youth ministry long enough to know that eventually, students in my ministry will face crises.

Knowing this, I’ve taken steps to equip adult leaders to minister to students in crises. That way, when crises happen, we’re prepared....

Create dignity, not shame

When I was in the third grade, one of my classmates had a habit of blowing on people. One day, our teacher caught him doing this, yanked him out of line, drew a circle on the chalkboard, and made him repeatedly blow into the circle for the rest of...

Bye Bye Church

On a Sunday morning not all that long ago, I stood behind a young mom and her toddler-aged daughter as they exited church. When they reached the doors in the back of our church, the mom said to her daughter, “Say good-bye to the church.”


The Restoration of Identity

As a youth worker, I'm constantly amazed at the mysteriousness of adolescence. One minute, I'm baffled by the immaturity of my teens. The next, I'm blown away by their insight. Somehow, in the adolescent world, immaturity and insight regularly...

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

Jen's Books

Now Available!

A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

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The Real Jesus

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The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

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