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...
As a parent, I also want my daughter to know...
“I have to go get my guys!” my two-year old daughter, Hope, told me as I began reading the Christmas story to her during our morning devotion. A few minutes later she returned with her Fisher Price nativity set and proceeded to act out the...
Not long ago, I sat in worship thinking “Every aspect of this service has been entirely about me.” That week, it felt like worship pointed not to Jesus, but to me.
I’m pretty sure that a few months earlier, I would not have been so acutely aware...
As a young youth worker, once I figured out that I shouldn’t be writing my own curriculum, I’d spend hours pouring over existing curriculum, trying to figure out what to teach the teens entrusted to my care.
I had no idea what I was looking for in...
In college, I worked as a Resident Advisor in a dorm, for which I received a very tiny monthly stipend. Some months, I spent my entire stipend at the local Christian bookstore buying Christian fiction. I adored Karen Kingsbury, Francine Rivers,...
I adored this youth ministry and its curriculum. It was solid theologically, incredibly creative, and designed specifically to...
My youth ministry did the 30 Hour Famine last week. It went well. Very well, in fact. Unfortunately, I felt like my colleagues didn't notice it, let alone affirm my role in it. This was disheartening to me – a fact that I hate.
Yet, what I’m...
It was my due date the first time I was pregnant. Only I never made it that far. Shortly after finding out I was pregnant, I miscarried and my world shattered.
Even now, nearly four years later, I still grieve that day. More often...
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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