Keep It Going

I’ve often heard people moan about the ineffectiveness of big youth ministry events like the 30 Hour Famine or summer mission trips. Such rants usually go something like this:

You spend a lot of time, energy, and money on X. And sure, teens are into it for the weekend but even you’ve got to admit, it has no lasting impact on them or anyone else. As soon as they return home, life returns to normal.

While that may be true for some teens, it doesn’t have to be the case for all teens. In fact, as youth pastors there are a lot of things we can do to combat the mentality that when the event ends, so too does that way of life. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Call out the passion you see in teens. Justice work gives us the opportunity to see teens in unique settings that others – including their parents – may never see them in. When you see teens get passionately involved in some kind of justice work, name that. Ask teens questions about why they find that particular type of ministry so interesting. Connect them to like-minded adults in your congregation who share similar passions and encourage them to serve together. Equip them with resources (like places where they can serve as well as books or articles about that particular area of justice work) that will help them in their ongoing ministry. Encourage them to keep cultivating their interest in that area.  

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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

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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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