Why Should Youth Do Short-Term Missions?

Three years ago, as I interviewed for a new youth ministry position, regardless of the size or type of church I was interviewing at, I always knew one question would be the same: “How important do you think short-term mission trips are for...

Cliff Jumping

I’m a big fan of the TV series, “The West Wing.” In fact, I own the whole series and watch it far more than I’d like to admit. In one of my favorite episodes, President Bartlett asks CJ Cregg to “jump off a cliff with him” and replace...

3 Story

Last spring, I used Youth Specialties “3 Story” Curriculum with my youth ministry, largely because I was required to do so for a graduate course I was taking.

The subtitle of this curriculum is “Preparing for a lifestyle of evangelism” and for...

What the Church Can Learn from Disney

I’m often amazed at the way some Christians seem to despise all things Disney.

A few years ago, during a workout at Curves, I heard two moms discussing how Christians needed to boycott Disney because of its routine use of pagan and magical...

Simple Service

For three years, I’ve ignored the pleas of my students to serve at Feed My Starving Children, a non-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God’s children in body and spirit by hand-packing meals specifically formulated for malnourished...

I Have a Dream

Two weeks ago, I met with one of the girls I mentor, who I’ll call Brooklyn. During our meeting, she expressed frustration to me over the fact that as a teenager, she believes she has no power; That there is nothing she can do to fix the...

Attempt Two

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been reminded over the last several weeks that moving is one of the most stressful things in life. Evidently, on the stress scale, it falls just behind death and divorce. Or at least...

A Seat at the Grown-Up's Table

My church’s annual meeting was two weeks ago. At this meeting, members of our church came together to learn about our church community, pass our church’s budget, and elect church council members.

Because I believe that my high school...


Last weekend was my ministry’s annual winter retreat. The focus of this retreat was no small task, as we set out to survey the book of Revelation, discussing end times, heaven and hell, and God’s vision for a better world.

I literally...

Going Home

Growing up, I loved my church. In fact, when I went away to college, one of my favorite parts about spending a weekend in Chicago was going to church on Sunday morning.


Because going to church felt like going home.

I literally grew up in my...

"Bittersweet" Review and Giveaway

I absolutely love to read.

For me, reading is life-giving. It’s something that restores my soul in a way that few other things do. I love well-written fiction that causes me to get lost in the story. I also love spiritual memoirs and the way...

Tolerance Fatigue

I’m tired of tolerance.

That’s right. You read that correctly. I’ll even say it again.

I’m tired of tolerance.

For quite some time, “tolerance” has been a hip, cool buzz word here in America. Everyone – especially high schoolers – wants to be “...

Gathered Around the Table

Growing up, dinner was a sacred event in my family’s house.

Throughout elementary school and junior high, my family ate dinner every night at 6 pm. In high school, dinner time fluctuated depending on my extracurricular schedule. Despite...

More than enough

I’m a firm believer that in a youth ministry setting, unless we process service projects with our students before, during, and after we complete them, they’re a waste of our time yielding little, if any, long-term impact in either the...

Two Pastors and a Burning Mortgage

The trait I most dislike about myself is the fact that I get jealous insanely easily.

When I psychoanalyze myself, I wonder if perhaps this is because I’m an only child, used to having all the attention. Or maybe it’s because I was...

An Open Letter to Parents

Dear Parents -

There are days when I simply don’t envy you. So often when I see you, you’re overwhelmed, running from place to place, chauffeuring your kids from one activity to the next, doing all you can to simply survive another day...

They Know Our Voice

Last Wednesday was our first youth ministry meeting of the school year. It was a night of laughter, fun, and joy; A night when upperclassmen welcomed underclassmen into their midst with open arms.

For our first night, we played a series 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

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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