Set Aside Judgment


Whenever we come into contact with other people, there’s a temptation to play the comparison game. This is true of theology as much as anything else.

Theological differences are often especially apparent during events like the 30 Hour Famine, when serving others brings us into contact with people from different religions, denominations, races, or cultures. As we interact with people, we often notice differences in the way we pray; in how we worship; in how charismatic we are or aren’t; or in whether we emphasize serving others or evangelizing them. In conversations or during sermons, we might also notice differences in how literally we view Scripture or in what we believe or how we talk about Jesus.

Whenever we encounter such theological differences, the temptation is to judge others: to declare (even in our own minds) whatever we believe to be right and whatever someone else believes to be wrong.

The problem with this is that as soon as we decide someone’s theology is wrong or even a little bit off, we speak and interact from a position of arrogance and fear. Such a position prohibits us from listening to and learning from others. What’s more, it might inadvertently wreak havoc on the experience of our teens.

Imagine, for example, that you’re serving at a homeless shelter as part of your group’s Famine experience. Before dinner begins, shelter staff leads a worship service for all in attendance. As part of worship, an altar call occurs, something that is not a part of your congregation’s tradition. Even so, when given the opportunity to do so, several of your teens go forward during the altar call.

Read the rest of this article 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.

More about Jen

Jen's Books

Now Available!

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

Order Now

Now Available!

Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders

Order Now

The Real Jesus

Order Now

The Jesus Gap

What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus

Based on National Research

Order Now




Recent Posts