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God is still God, even when we grieve

My husband and I were on our way home from a brief trip to a local state park on Monday when we stopped for lunch and heard the news about the bombings at the Boston marathon.

Immediately, my heart sunk. As I watched the images from Boston flit...

20 Tips for Making Rummage Sales Successful

Whenever I mention my youth ministry's rummage sale to people, they usually ask in disbelief, "You're really doing that again?"

To be sure, rummage sales are a ton of work; but as a youth worker, I love how they encourage people to purge in a...

What youth workers can learn from The Book of Mormon

Google the musical, The Book of Mormon, and you'll almost certainly find people using the words “irreverent”, “crass”, and “ridiculously funny” to describe it. It's a show that uses wit and humor to explore faith and in particular, the Mormon...

Job, youth ministry, and me

Following a morning devotional time during a mission trip, one of my students found me and announced with a great deal of frustration and fury, “Job sucks”. After asking this student several questions, I learned she'd chosen to read Job during her...

Review: Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist

As a child in the 80's and a teenager in the 90's, I somehow missed all the boy band fads. I was never an NKOTB or Backstreet Boys groupie or really, even a fan. To be honest, I don't feel as though my life is lacking because I wasn't.

It's only...

Why a crucifixion?

For the last eight months, I've been immersed in a research project, investigating what high school students in my denomination (ELCA) believe about Jesus. Among other things, I asked hundreds of students, “Why did Jesus die?”

The majority of...

Recent Reads: Imaginary Jesus

This week's review is of Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos.  

What the book's about: This book is about the author's search for the "real Jesus". It's a story of rooting out all the imaginary Jesus' surrounding him and discovering the...

How to Keep Mission Costs from Being Prohibitive

In every youth ministry I've served, I've had students who come from families that struggle financially and, therefore, cannot afford expensive events such as summer mission trips. Although we spend a year fundraising for mission trips and...

Some things matter more than perfection

Every year, my church holds Youth Sunday. One of the challenges of Youth Sunday is helping both students and parishioners alike to recognize it as worship, not a performance.

To help students understand Youth Sunday as worship, we intentionally...

4 keys to the mastery of youth ministry

One of the things I appreciate about my childhood is that my parents encouraged me to dabble: To try a variety of things in order to discover my interests, passions, and abilities. Throughout grade school and middle school, I dabbled in many...

Recent Reads: Unholy Night

This week I offer you just one review of Unholy Night by Seth Grahame-Smith.  

What the book's about: This book is a retelling of the Christmas story, featuring the wise men as it's central characters.

Why I read this book: Oddly...

Honoring expertise and diversity

On Monday morning, my online world erupted when Efrem Smith, an author, consultant and regional leader for the Evangelical Covenant Church tweeted “Until Youth Worker Journal does more to honor youth ministry experts of color and in the urban...

Recent Reads: The Dressmaker of Khair Khana

This week I offer you just one review of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

What the book's about: This book tells the story of Kamila Sidiqi, a young Afghan woman whose life changed overnight after the Taliban seized control...

Concerns about K-Love's 30 Day Challenge

I confess I have a love / hate relationship with contemporary Christian music.

There have been times when Christian music has truly ministered to me. I remember being at the National Youth Worker's Convention in 2003, just a month after I left my...

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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