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Create dignity, not shame

When I was in the third grade, one of my classmates had a habit of blowing on people. One day, our teacher caught him doing this, yanked him out of line, drew a circle on the chalkboard, and made him repeatedly blow into the circle for the rest of...

Bye Bye Church

On a Sunday morning not all that long ago, I stood behind a young mom and her toddler-aged daughter as they exited church. When they reached the doors in the back of our church, the mom said to her daughter, “Say good-bye to the church.”

The...

The Restoration of Identity

As a youth worker, I'm constantly amazed at the mysteriousness of adolescence. One minute, I'm baffled by the immaturity of my teens. The next, I'm blown away by their insight. Somehow, in the adolescent world, immaturity and insight regularly...

Faith Vs. Science

According to David Kinnaman in You Lost Me , 52 percent of youth group teens aspire to science-related careers but only one percent of youth workers have addressed issues of science in the past year.

Knowing this, I was excited when my student...

Review: Pastrix by Nadia Bolz-Weber

Nadia Bolz-Weber is as close to a celebrity pastor as the ELCA has. I've gotten to hear her speak on two different occasions, first at the Extravaganza (a training event for youth workers in the ELCA) and later at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering.

...

Jesus > Holy Spirit

Recently, one of my new adult leaders asked me, “Why don’t we talk about the Holy Spirit more with our high school students? It seems like we’re very focused on Jesus.”

Truthfully, this is a pretty fair assessment of my high school ministry: It ...

Apologetics are good for us

During the wee hours of our summer mission trip, I realized one of my student leaders was in the midst of a spiritual crisis.

Just before the trip, her atheist friend asked her, “Why do you believe in God?” In that moment, she realized she didn't...

Refugees: More victims of the government shutdown

Over the last two weeks, there has been extensive news coverage about the impact of the government shutdown on various services.

We've seen headlines about WWII veterans trying to visit a closed WWII monument in Washington DC; About frustrated...

Review: The In-Between by Jeff Goins

In February, I found out I was pregnant. Like so many other newly pregnant moms, I expected to be welcoming a baby into our house 9 months later - a few short weeks from now, actually.

Instead, I miscarried a few weeks later.

Since then, I've...

Redefining testimonies

For a time, my husband and I participated in a lot of lay-witness missions. During these, a team of lay-leaders descended upon a church and led the children, youth, and adults in a weekend-long retreat.

I loved many things about these lay-witness...

God-sized stories

This year, I'm challenging my student leaders to dream big, God-sized dreams for our ministry; Dreams that are, without God, impossible to achieve.

Over the summer, I asked my student leaders to write their God-sized dreams down, share them with...

Stuff You Can Use: Les Mis Discussion Part 3

My students are, in a word, obsessed with the 2012 movie version of Les Miserables. Knowing this, I decided to use Les Mis as the basis for our first, three-week series of the year. This series is written as discussions, designed to be...

I hate accountability groups

Let me tell you a secret.

I hate accountability groups.

Oh, I know I shouldn’t say that.

I know they’re a valued part of many churches and youth groups, a way to keep wayward teens accountable for their actions.

I know that as a youth pastor, I’m...

What youth workers can learn from Breaking Bad

Each summer, my husband and I binge on a TV series or two.

Last year, it was Friday Night Lights and Downton Abbey.

This year, it was Breaking Bad.

Now, I know we came late to the party & that the series finale aired Sunday. But we're...

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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