Archive for 2014

Mess with their food

As he dipped his fingers into a bowl of rice and beans, one of my students whined, "Why do you always have to mess with our food?"

At the time he made this comment, this student, along with the rest of our mission team, was busy participating in a...


During Holy Week, my congregation holds worship on each of The Great Three Days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

Though I grew up in a church that held a Good Friday worship service, the concept of worshipping on each of these...

Spiritual Misfit Review & Giveaway

For many years, my husband and I led a small group we affectionately called the Palatine misfits. The group earned it's name because of where we met and who we were. Our group could not easily be categorized as singles, couples, or families....

Judas' betrayal, Jesus' glory

As my senior pastor says, "At our place, we do church. Especially this time of the year. Holy Week." I had the privilege of preaching on Isaiah 50:4-9a, Hebrews 12:1-3, and John 13:21-32 during Holy Wednesday worship. The reflection I shared...

How to deal with disruptive kids

Recently, someone posted this question to an online youth ministry forum I'm a part of: “How do you handle disruptive students during a lesson or sermon?”

One of the most helpful ways I've learned to “handle disruptive students” is actually...

Who knows best?

The other day, my teens and I attended a workshop during which we had the opportunity to practice contemplative prayer. After doing so, the facilitator asked people to share their experience with 2-3 people near them.

My teens’ body language...

Three Talks that Greatly Influenced Me

As a youth worker, I know that relationships matter far more than any talk I'll ever give or any discussion I'll ever lead. 

I know this based on my own life experience. Even so, over the years, there have been three talks that have...

The real travesty of doubt

Doubting Thomas

A few weeks ago, my congregation’s associate pastor preached her farewell sermon. During it, she confessed a few doubts about her faith to us.

Afterward, one of my students – who’s been in the midst of her own spiritual crisis – talked about how...

Empowering teens

Youth Sunday Praise Band

A few weeks ago, my congregation held it's annual Youth Sunday, a tradition I have the ultimate love / hate relationship with.

For years, I've heard people describe this Sunday as the one in which our youth “take-over” worship. Even though I...

5 ways to show graduates you care

Yesterday, I had lunch with one of my youth group graduates who’s now in college. As our time together drew to a close, this student pondered, “So how long can we keep getting together like this?”

In processing her question, here’s what I think...

The face of joy


Today, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday. The rules: Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

This week's prompt: Joy. 

Joy Photo

In the dead of winter, teens from my youth ministry delivered a...

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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