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...

Recent Reads: Moses and Wanting to Be Her

Moses: A Man of Selfless Dedication by Charles Swindoll

What the book's about: The life of Moses.

Why I read this book: During my youth ministry's recent retreat, I used the life of Moses as the basis for our exploration of self-image. To...

Using spiritual souvenirs to remember

Yesterday, a colleague told me about Snapchat, a photo messaging application that allows the user to take photos, send them to a controlled list of recipients, and set a time limit for how long the photos can be viewed before they vanish from the...

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...

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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