The fantasy youth ministry candidate

Popular youth ministry author and speaker, Doug Franklin, who I greatly respect, recently posted this on social media:

I often get calls from churches seeking great youth ministry candidates for their open positions. They are all looking for the...

How do you not hate them?

I preached on March 5, when the lectionary text of the day was John 3:1-17. This passage includes the beloved (or despised, depending on who you are) John 3:16.

As part of my sermon, I talked about how while I was in college, my friends from the...

Messy Ashes

It’s Ash Wednesday. I was supposed to be serving at church today, imposing ashes on people for an hour this afternoon.

Strangely, I was looking forward to it. While Ash Wednesday is morbid, there’s also a sacredness to it that I appreciate.


What it means to be a Bradbury

I first met Grandpa Elmer when I was 19. After a summer apart from each other, my then boyfriend, Doug, invited me to join him for Perry Pioneer Days - a local festival that included a parade that he and his Grandpa always walked in.

As clowns.


The (false) unity of 9-12

As we've approached the twentieth anniversary of 9-11, I’ve seen this picture on social media a lot:

9 12 Unity

In some ways, I get the sentiment.

Our country is divided, certainly more than I’ve seen at any other point in my lifetime.

And yet, every...

Jesus & justice

Is it easier to bring Jesus to the progressives or social justice to the evangelicals?

This is the question I’ve spent most of my professional life wondering, as I’ve alternated between evangelical and progressive settings, respecting both for...

Beautiful Hospitality

Surely there’s a church somewhere that practices the kind of hospitality Jesus did, right?

I wanted desperately to believe this after my family found itself unwelcome at church during the last several weeks. Since then, I’ve continued to wrestle...

On not being welcomed at church

Last Sunday during worship, I sat in the comfort room with my two-year old, Kendall, in tears.

To be clear, I was the one in tears, not her.

We’d gone into the cry room to nurse. When we returned to the sanctuary, she started chattering. A LOT...

Church Shopping

The last time I went church shopping I was a freshman in college. My first Sunday on campus, I walked to the Methodist church that was a block from me. I’d grown up in the Methodist church and truly expected to find a church just like the one I...

The problem with Bible Bucks

I’ve seen several recent posts in various online youth ministry discussion forums about how we can get kids and tweens to read Scripture.

Several people have suggested instituting a “Bible Bucks” program. The idea is that when young people read ...

How the Bible Ruined the Berenstain Bears'

I have fond memories from my childhood of curling up in my mom’s lap, in her big (ugly) green recliner and reading the Berenstain Bears’ books. They were classics that every kid my age loved.

I’ve loved introducing these books to my own girls,...

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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