Note: I wrote this piece a while ago, in connection with my new book, Called. In the days since when it live, however, I have accepted a new job with Fuller Youth Institute and so am now (ironically) in the process of transitioning out of my role as Minister of Youth & Family at Atonement.  

Youth workers believe in the importance of vocation. Often, we serve in churches because we feel called to do so.

Yet, the reality is youth ministry is hard. On any given day, we might…

…wonder if what we’re doing matters.

…have a tough conversation with a young person or someone in their family.

…deal with conflict.

…talk to people who just don’t get it.

…feel siloed, isolated, or separated from the rest of our congregation.

…get an email from an angry parent.

…have to deal with new health and safety protocols (Thanks Covid!).

…have to figure out how to reach teens both in-person and online.

…struggle with attendance as we compete against the many things vying for our young people’s time and energy.

…have to lead an event we don’t fully believe in.

…feel alone.

…worry about our youth ministry (or church’s) diminishing budgets.

…get called to a hospital bedside.

…walk with teens through suffering.

…struggle with burnout.

Some days make us want to quit or at least start over somewhere else. When those days occur, here are 10 questions to help you decide whether to stay or go.

To read the rest of this post, click here. 

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.

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Jen's Books

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A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm

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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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