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The Long-Game

In her address to the Democratic National Convention, First Lady Michelle Obama said, “We are playing a long-game here." Though the First Lady was, of course, talking about the long-term political agenda of the Democratic party, I believe she...

Book and Curriculum Review: Greater by Steven Furtick

In our culture, everyone wants to be great.

Students do. Their parents do. And if we're honest, we do too.

For this reason alone, Steven Furtick's new book, Greater, will gain an audience. After all, how awesome would it be if our faith in Jesus...

Only God

A year ago, I visited Kiziba Refugee Camp in western Rwanda.

This camp is home to more than 20,000 refugees from the Congo, where an on-going civil war has resulted in the death of more than 3 million people. It is a conflict rarely talked about...

Why Stay?


A member of my church council recently asked me, “What do you feel is the key to our church keeping you as our youth worker?”

To me, this is an interesting question, one I believe is often overlooked in favor of it's close relative, “When and why...

Cool Stuff Here

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While on vacation, I saw this sign, an advertisement attempting to lure passerby's into a shop because of it's “cool stuff”. Each time I passed this shop, I was struck by how much this shop's advertisement mirrors the way we so often do youth...

10 Things Every Adult Leader Should Know

On a recent mission trip, I interacted with adult leaders from across the country.

One was permanently attached to her phone. She called her office every 10 minutes to see if a crisis had developed she alone could solve—from 800 miles away....

15 Tips for Processing Mission Trips

The most important element of a mission trip is not worship, fun or service. Instead, the most important part of a mission trip is processing or debriefing your day with your team in order to help students wrestle with what they see, hear and do....

What leadership roles do you give students?

These days, there are few leadership roles I'm not willing to give students.

This is a significant change from my early days in youth ministry, when there were few leadership roles I was willing to give students. In those days, my student leaders...

A Glimpse of Heaven

For about a year, I've been captivated by an image that for whatever reason, I have not been able to forget.

The image comes from the final day I spent serving at an Easter Seals camp for special needs kids and adults. For three days prior, I...

Book Review: A Faith of Our Own

As the election approaches, I continue to wrestle with what it means to follow Jesus politically. Walk into an evangelical church and many people will suggest this means voting republican. Walk into a mainline church and you'll hear the opposite:...

I love Jesus and the church

I am, without a doubt, a church geek.

As a kid, church felt like my second home. As a tween, I remember being upset when I was asked to serve on the worship committee rather than the staff-parish committee. As a college student, I loved to go...

Fundraising 101

At my first youth ministry job interview, I was asked, "How do you plan on fundraising the thousands of dollars required for our summer mission trip?" As a 21 year old, I'm sure I looked like a deer caught in the headlights as I fumbled to answer...

New Stories to Tell

Recently, I heard a well-known Christian speaker give a sermon called, “What happens when the dream dies?”

The funny thing is I heard this speaker give the exact same sermon five years ago.

At that time, I remember sitting in the convention...

The church isn't doomed

A quick search on Amazon using the words, “leaving church” reveals dozens of ominous sounding titles:

You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church
Essential Church?: Reclaiming a Generation of Dropouts
Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young...

God on Campus?

“State colleges corrupt people's morals and weaken Christians' faith.”

Though, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm not sure I've ever actually heard someone utter these exact words, I suspect that this is the underlying belief that drives...

Missions: Forming Your Team

A few years ago, I met Steve, a high school kid and professed atheist. He and I spent a week together on a mission trip, visiting old people and leading a Vacation Bible School for kids. Without meaning to, in the midst of serving, Steve...

Worship is Not a Spectator Sport

This Christmas Season, the Christmas story characters that have most captivated me have been the shepherds – the riffraff to whom the angels first announced the birth of Jesus in Luke 2. As part of their announcement to the shepherds, the angels...

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, 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 the forthcoming 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.

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Jen's Books

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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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