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A Place to Belong

I'm a strong believer that belonging precedes belief. This means that if we want teens to take ownership of their faith, we have to first help them belong.

To be clear, belonging doesn't happen accidentally. Helping teens belong takes time,...

The Complaint Letter

Lead 800

We were on the way back from a junior high retreat when it happened. 

We began complaining about everything we disliked about our church. 

Of course, our view was unique. 

We were, after all, only in 6th - 8th grade; I was an...

How much should we invest in those who don't come?

My first year in ministry, I was haunted by a girl I never met.

Her name was Laura and she never attended anything.

She didn't come to our weekly youth ministry gatherings.

She didn't come to our special events – regardless of whether they were ...

The Mother Of All Injustices

Over the weekend, I watched an episode of one of my favorite TV shows, The West Wing. In it, two Native Americans show up at the White House and refuse to leave until they get an answer on an application their tribe submitted… fifteen years ago.

...

Ask About the Worst

A few weeks ago, I sat down next to an eighth grade boy. Wanting to engage him in conversation, I asked, “How's school?”

I got a typical junior high boy answer: “Good.”

So I asked him a follow-up question. “What's been good about it?”

To which...

Two for One

Throughout my career in youth ministry, people have occasionally asked me if my husband would be willing to do something.

I used to answer these questions on his behalf, (always saying "yes"), sometimes without first even checking with him.

You...

Solid food

“In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the...

5 reasons to debrief

Recently, my congregation participated in a church-wide, intergenerational day of service. As part of this, we launched people into their service experiences straight from worship. People then served in three areas for two hours each before...

Review: Let's All Be Brave by Annie Downs

I am not brave.

There have been times (usually when there's a sheer cliff on one side of me) when my husband and I have been backpacking when I've literally been paralyzed by fear, unable to take a step forward.

I'm also extremely risk averse.

...

The awful Mom's Night Out

Last spring, we saw a preview for Mom's Night Out . The preview had a few funny clips in it, so last night we rented it.

I'll admit, I was also curious as to why K-Love kept promoting this movie. To me, it looked far too mainstream (as in, it...

How to prepare for the fall

I snapped at my boss yesterday.

I realized it a few hours later and sent him an apology in which I also said, “I’m operating out of a place of depletion and stress right now.”

That’s not an excuse. It’s more a confession of my current reality.

At...

The Face of ALS

Long before it was cool, I gave to the ALS Association.

Those gifts had nothing to do with dumping ice water over my head... Or failing to do so.

I gave because to me, ALS is personal. It's not just a rare disease. It's the disease my...

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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