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Lose the Flash

In reflecting on the success of the TV show, Friends, it's producers have said, "Our best episodes became the ones with just the six of them in the room.” To the show's producers, the heart of Friends was not it's flash. It wasn't special...

You might be a youth worker's husband if...

For years, my husband and I have joked he should crash one of the workshops offered for youth worker's wives that are held at various youth ministry conferences we've attended. We've always said this partly in jest, but partly in truth, wishing...

Recent Reads: Evolving in Monkey Town and Bloom

As a young girl, my favorite Christmas presents were always books. I looked forward to Friday nights because it meant I could stay up and read as late as I wanted to.

Not surprisingly, I still love to read today. On my day off, you can usually...

The sitcom, Friends, pasta, and holy ground

My all-time favorite sitcom is Friends. Though I was a bit late to the party initially, I've now seen every single episode.

Let's be honest: I've seen every episode way more than once. I can recite most of them word for word.

Yet, I return to...

Pre-Mission Trip Timeline

I participated in mission trips as a kid and then worked for a mission trip organization in college. Both ends of the spectrum had a profound impact on my faith. Neither equipped me to plan a trip from start to finish.

My first year in ministry, I...

Teaching Kids about Vocation

What do you want to be when you grow up?

As a kid, it seemed like someone was always asking me this question.

For a long time, my answer was teacher... Until it was architect and then later, writer.

Never once was it engineer, which is what my...

Confronting the Parts of Faith We Don't Like

Let's do a quick word association.

If I said the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, what would you say?

Perhaps you would say words like mainline, traditional, denomination, bishops, synods, liturgical, baptism, Paul, or grace. These are...

Review: A Year of Biblical Womanhood

The idea of Rachel Held Evans' book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, is simple. For a year, Rachel took the Bible literally, focusing on one specific command (targeted at women) each month. It's not an entirely new idea. A.J. Jacobs did it in The...

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...

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.

More about Jen

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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