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How to kill sacred cows

Every ministry has a sacred cow.

Sometimes sacred cows need to die.

But how do you kill a program in a healthy way?

Here are the steps I follow in order to slaughter sacred cows:

1. Enter a time of prayer and discernment. Since people are, by...

Where's your allegiance?

Having attended a Lutheran grade school, a Catholic high school, and a Methodist church, I grew up with very ecumenical influences. Even so, as an 18-year-old heading off to college, I considered myself to be Methodist. So upon going to college, I...

Did you know there was a genocide there?

A well-meaning woman at church recently asked me, “You're not still taking kids to Rwanda, are you?”

Unsure what she was referring to, I said. “Yep! We leave July 19.”

She then proceeded to tell be about the “border war” between Rwanda and the...

The cost of misinformation

My husband and I recently visited the Field Museum in Chicago. Knowing we'd soon be leaving for Rwanda, we made a point of visiting the museum's Africa exhibit. Near the start of the exhibit, there was a room intended to equip people with basic...

Permission to be you

During a recent mission trip, I asked various leaders to share their faith stories with everyone.

The first night, our youngest adult leader, who graduated from college just a few short weeks ago, shared hers. Without a doubt, it was powerful –...

How not to lead a small group

Small groups are an integral part of many youth ministries. Good small group communities foster deep relationships between students and adult leaders. In the process, they push students toward God in very real ways. Unfortunately, small groups...

Just Say "NO"

One of my congregation’s pastors left in March. Since then, I’ve feared people would assume I’d take on many of her responsibilities since she and I worked closely together.

The problem is, there’s no room in my schedule to do so. Like everyone...

Where was the church?

Last week an article on Leadership Journal entitled From Youth Minister to Felon made it's rounds in the Christian blogosphere. 

The article was written by a youth pastor now behind bars for statutory rape. Like others, I was horrified by...

How to change students' relationships with the Bible

My first night at my current church, I asked students to grab a Bible. I don’t remember what we were exploring. I do, however, distinctly remember the stunned look on their faces.

I didn’t think much of their reaction until my second gathering,...

How to teach teens to notice others

A few weeks ago, my youth ministry held it’s third annual spring banquet. The event started after my student leaders approached me, saying they wanted to hold a dance for our youth ministry.

That thought made me want to vomit.

Rather than express...

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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