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On dance classes, motivation, & $50 costumes

At the start of the New Year, we signed our then 4-year old daughter, Hope, up for a dance class at the local park district.

Hope LOVES to dance. We’ve known that for a while and figured this would be a fun way for her to learn some skills and...

What Nancy taught me

The weekend after I miscarried, my mother and father-in-law, Nancy & Keith, showed up at our house.

Truth be told, I didn’t want them there.

I didn’t want anyone there.

I was knee-deep in some of the most profound sadness I’d ever...

Church homes

In every church I’ve ever been on staff at, we've inevitably wrestled with the question, “Who belongs?”

Oh, we never say it like that.

Instead, we raise questions like, “Who is active here? Who worships here? Or who gives an offering here?”

We...

The goal of politics

As I’ve scrolled Facebook in the days of the Pandemic, I’ve been increasingly struck by my desire to engage with people who share my beliefs and disengage from those who don’t.

I’m continually frustrated by one friend in particular and their...

Notes from the Pandemic: Eyes to See

Context is everything.

As a ministry professional, I’ve had this instilled into me for years. Even so, I’ve never seen this quite as clearly as I have since the pandemic began.

Because we’re safe-at-home, unable to go places, feeling a myriad of...

Notes from the Pandemic: Anger & Grace

Emotions are an interesting thing during quarantine.

It seems like on any given day, I feel ALL the emotions...STRONGLY. Sometimes I can process WHY I’m feeling what I’m feeling. Other times, I simply can’t.

Naturally, through no fault of their...

Notes from the Pandemic: A happy Easter?

This morning, I recorded my children’s message for tomorrow’s virtual Easter service. I began it without thinking, by saying, “Happy Easter!”

As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I inwardly questioned them.

Will this really be a happy...

Notes from the Pandemic: The joy of walking

Pre-kids, my husband and I frequently took vacations centered around backpacking. Nature centered and anchored us. In nature, we felt closer to God and each other. 

After having Hope, we frequented the Morton Arboretum. But as Hope got older,...

Notes from the Pandemic: The God I Believe In

Yesterday, I stumbled onto this Facebook post:

In three short months, just like He did with the plagues of Egypt, God has taken away everything we worship. God said, "you want to worship athletes, I will shut down the stadiums. You want to...

Notes from the Pandemic: Grief

Over the weekend, I had a pretty awful mental health day. I spent much of the weekend in tears. Since writing has always been how I've processed and made sense of the world, I decided to write about the experience. The simple act of writing did my...

Notes from the Pandemic: Palm Sunday & COVID-19

Over the weekend, I had a pretty awful mental health day. I spent much of the weekend in tears. Since writing has always been how I've processed and made sense of the world, I decided to write about the experience. The simple act of writing did my...

Notes from the Pandemic: There Will Be Joy

Yesterday, I had a pretty awful mental health day. I spent much of the days in tears. Since writing has always been how I've processed and made sense of the world, I decided to write about the experience. The simple act of writing did my heart and...

11 Tips for Live-Streaming Worship with Kids

In these unprecedented times, with a massive number of churches opting to live stream their worship services in order to protect the public’s health and love our neighbors, families with young children might find themselves wondering, “That sounds...

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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