Great youth workers

I recently spoke about The Jesus Gap. Afterward, a youth worker approached me and said, “If you're as into discipleship as you think we ought to be, you're probably not a very good youth worker.”

“Why?” I asked him.

In response, he said, “Because you're probably not very fun. And if you're not very fun, your kids probably don't like you very much.”

According to this youth worker, fun attracts teenagers. So if you're not fun, they won't come.

Here's the problem, though, or perhaps more accurately, the first of many problems: This mindset assumes the attractional model for youth ministry still works. If you build it, they will come.

The problem is, attractional ministry no longer works.

There are plenty of places – schools, clubs, extracurriculars, the park district, the YMCA – that do “fun” and entertainment far better than churches do. If those places build it, people might still come.

Not so with the church, which is no longer the center of most people's social lives or the most important thing on their calendar.

In today's world, the church has exactly one thing that makes it distinct from every other community organization out there: Jesus. If Jesus isn't our focal point and reason for being, we're missing the boat.

The second problem with this mindset is that it creates a false dichotomy. In this false dichotomy, discipling teens, having serious conversations, or talking about Jesus cannot possibly be fun.

Read the rest of this article here. 

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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