What If They Like It Better?

Throughout my youth ministry career, I’ve intentionally taken students to worship in other Christian congregations.

The first time I did this I was working at a multi-ethnic congregation. One spring I canceled our own youth worship service for multiple weeks and instead took my youth to worship somewhere else each week. I intentionally chose congregations that dramatically differed from ours, including a contemporary Christian service entirely in Spanish and a Catholic mass. In each instance, I arranged our visit with someone from that congregation in advance and in the process, also arranged for our youth to have the opportunity to hang out with students from that congregation after worship. Such a gathering created the space for teens to be able to learn from and about one another’s traditions.

More recently, I took my student leadership team to a worship service at Willow Creek Community Church. Having spent three months discussing the importance of welcoming people into our high school ministry, I wanted my students to walk into a church setting with which they were totally unfamiliar and then learn from how they were welcomed there.

Each time I’ve intentionally taken students to worship elsewhere, I’ve had good reasons for doing so. Since youth are naturally curious about Christian traditions that differ from their own, intentionally taking students to worship elsewhere gives them the opportunity to learn about other Christian traditions, find value in them, compare them to their own, and in the process, grow in and solidify their faith.

Despite these valid reasons for taking students from my congregation to worship elsewhere, each time I’ve done so I’ve been asked, “What if they like it better?”

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.

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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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