When students become ministers

Throughout the last week, I've been knee-deep in confirmation home visits. During these, I visit each soon-to-be-confirmed 9th grader in their home.

I used to do these visits myself.

A few years ago, I began bringing one of my student leaders with me to each visit.

Together, we drive to the freshman's house. Along the way, we catch up on life. Once at the freshman's house, we visit with them.

During the visit itself, each student leader steps into someone else's world, for just a little while. They see where and how a person lives, something that often raises questions and increases empathy. Student leaders watch me interact with families and embrace the awkwardness that is inherently a part of these visits. They see me engage families and at times, sit in silence.

They, too, participate. They ask and answer questions. They tell freshmen about our youth ministry and invite them to be part of it.

That, in a nutshell, is why years ago, I first invited student leaders to be part of this process. My instincts told me freshmen would respond far more favorably to an invitation to participate in our youth ministry if it came from one of their peers rather than from me.

Over the years, that's proven true. These visits connect students. This, in turn, means that when a freshmen walks into our youth ministry for the first time, they are already known. 

In truth, however, these visits do something more than that.

Through these visits, discipleship happens.

By participating in this tangible act of ministry, students become ministers themselves.

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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