The real travesty of doubt

Doubting Thomas

A few weeks ago, my congregation’s associate pastor preached her farewell sermon. During it, she confessed a few doubts about her faith to us.

Afterward, one of my students – who’s been in the midst of her own spiritual crisis – talked about how...

Empowering teens

Youth Sunday Praise Band

A few weeks ago, my congregation held it's annual Youth Sunday, a tradition I have the ultimate love / hate relationship with.

For years, I've heard people describe this Sunday as the one in which our youth “take-over” worship. Even though I...

5 ways to show graduates you care

Yesterday, I had lunch with one of my youth group graduates who’s now in college. As our time together drew to a close, this student pondered, “So how long can we keep getting together like this?”

In processing her question, here’s what I think...

The face of joy


Today, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday. The rules: Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

This week's prompt: Joy. 

Joy Photo

In the dead of winter, teens from my youth ministry delivered a...

Dealing with the Crazies


Recently, I had a window replaced. Consistently poor service left me disgruntled. After expressing my frustration to the installer, I received a call from the company’s district manager.

Still frustrated, I quickly rattled off a list of the...

10 on the 12th

Several years ago, my Qualitative Analysis Professor, Dr. Terry Linhart, mentioned using photos in research. He said this as a comment made in passing, but I wrote it down, intrigued by the notion. 

His comment percolated for the next month...

It's not a badge of honor

My first year in ministry, I lost track of how often I heard someone say, “I can’t believe you don’t burnout.”

At the time, I wore these words as a badge of honor. I heard in them affirmation for all I was doing and for the fullness of our...

A Fierce Love

I'm thrilled to be guest posting at Adela Just's blog today in response to her prompt, "What is the most important thing you want your kids to know about the love of God?”

Recently, a student told me this story:

A Sunday School teacher shows her...

Sacred vs. Secular

Recently, a freshman in my youth ministry asked me to accompany her for a solo and ensemble competition. Eager for some face time with this student, I agreed.

Later, this student agreed to play this piece in worship.

A few days after that, she...

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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