I spent last week at the ELCA’s National Youth Gathering with a group from my church that included two other adult leaders. As part of this event, teens from across the country came together to worship, learn, and serve. We invaded a city and...
Today, a friend asked me how my family’s vacation last week was.
I replied, “It was awesome!” to which he replied, “Tell me more about this place you went to.”
He knew we’d gone to an all-inclusive family-friendly resort in New York State –...
As a youth pastor, I frequently ask teens what they want to discuss. Often, teens – both men and women – will suggest we discuss women of the Bible. For the most part, teens feel as though they know the stories of the male characters in the Bible...
I first gained exposure to Kristen Welch when my husband gifted me with a subscription to Fair Trade Friday, a ministry of Mercy House, which Kristen is the founder of. When I saw Kristen had a new book out, Raising World Changers in a Changing...
‘Tis the season for summer camps and mission trips, which means that this time of year, youth ministry discussion boards explode with questions about swimwear dress codes. Typically, questions go something like this:
What do you require girls to...
If there’s a seasonality to hiring in the church world, it’s now. Churches work hard during the spring and summer months to ensure that they have a full staff in place before the program year begins in the fall.
A common part of the interview...
This time of year, youth ministry discussion boards are filled with posts about what to get seniors for graduates. My ministry also gives gifts to graduating seniors: Prayer books.
I started this tradition several years ago. I solicited prayers...
At one of the congregations I served as a youth pastor, our youth ministry made care packages for our college students. In return, the college ministry made a giant “Fruits of the Spirit” tree for us out of paper. Although we hung the tree in our...
Over the past few years, media coverage has made me increasingly aware of the opioid epidemic plaguing the United States. As a youth worker, I believe I have a responsibility to educate myself about issues that affect teenagers in the United...
As a leader in the church, I want to be above reproach. For me, this has and always will be a matter of integrity. However, amidst the needed #MeToo and #ChurchToo movements, being above reproach is perhaps more important than ever before.
“I’ll be Pastor Wende,” she said,...
For years, my husband has said that if he were ever to write a book, it’d be about being called to create. He - and I - strongly believe that because we are made in the image of God, we are called to create.
Because of that, when I saw the title...
“I’m thinking about killing myself.”
It’s a phrase no youth worker ever wants to hear. But stay in ministry long enough and you will.
I remember the first time I heard it. I felt panicked and in many ways, frozen. I was unsure what to...
In high school, one of my favorite history teachers, Mr. Mazzullla, was a Vietnam Vet. As a result, for the first time in my academic history, we actually spent time talking about the Vietnam War. Hearing Mr. Mazzulla's first-hand accounts of the...
I love my youth ministry’s adult leaders. They’re the backbone of my youth ministry. They’re people I’ve recruited, equipped, and mentored. Some have served with me for almost a decade. I take caring for them seriously.
In my context, adult...
Most youth workers I know are familiar with the 30 Hour Famine. Many have even done it… at least once.
Maybe that’s you. Maybe you did the Famine years ago but then, for whatever reason, stopped.
That’s what I did.
For over a decade, the 30 Hour...
I was first introduced to Skye Jethani when my small group read The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity nearly a decade ago. The Divine Commodity was a thought-provoking read that made for excellent discussion fodder...
I'm a big believer in the power of experiential learning. To this end, instead of giving a talk about prayer, I'd much rather create a series of prayer stations designed to give students the opportunity to pray in a variety of ways.
Over the next...
When choosing a curriculum (especially when intentionally choosing a curriculum using these questions), the hope is that you’ll be able to use the curriculum as is. Unfortunately, that very rarely happens. Instead, you’ll likely have to tweak the...
I was first introduced to Henri Nouwen in grad school, when I was assigned In the Name of Jesus, still one of the most influential books on leadership I’ve ever read. Since then, I’ve enjoyed reading other works by Nouwen, including The Return of...
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
A Mission That Matters: How To Do Short-Term Missions Without Long-Term Harm
Unleashing the Hidden Potential of your Student Leaders
The Real Jesus
The Jesus Gap
What Teens Actually Believe About Jesus
Based on National Research
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- 5 ways to get teens talking
- Review: Stretched Too Thin by Jessica Turner
- 8 ways to help families with babies worship
- Review: The Jesus Who Surprises
- Fearfully and wonderfully made breasts
- Will you let your shoes fly in welcome?
- Review: Mere Science and Christian Faith by Greg Cootsona
- Teaching kids to like worship
- When Should You Take an International Mission Trip?
- Picture Rules for Mission Trips
- Review: The Power of Vision by George Barna
- Yay! Jesus Bread!
- Review: Glorious Weakness by Alia Joy
- Why you shouldn't build mission trips around seniors
- Why opening presents is an important part of toddler birthday parties
- Should you confirm in the spring or the fall?
- 6 ways to make a service-oriented mission trip more justice focused
- 5 marks of a justice-focused mission trip
- Review: Parenting Beyond the Rules by Connie Albers