During Holy Week, my congregation holds worship on each of The Great Three Days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

Though I grew up in a church that held a Good Friday worship service, the concept of worshipping on each of these...

Spiritual Misfit Review & Giveaway

For many years, my husband and I led a small group we affectionately called the Palatine misfits. The group earned it's name because of where we met and who we were. Our group could not easily be categorized as singles, couples, or families....

Judas' betrayal, Jesus' glory

As my senior pastor says, "At our place, we do church. Especially this time of the year. Holy Week." I had the privilege of preaching on Isaiah 50:4-9a, Hebrews 12:1-3, and John 13:21-32 during Holy Wednesday worship. The reflection I shared...

How to deal with disruptive kids

Recently, someone posted this question to an online youth ministry forum I'm a part of: “How do you handle disruptive students during a lesson or sermon?”

One of the most helpful ways I've learned to “handle disruptive students” is actually...

Who knows best?

The other day, my teens and I attended a workshop during which we had the opportunity to practice contemplative prayer. After doing so, the facilitator asked people to share their experience with 2-3 people near them.

My teens’ body language...

Three Talks that Greatly Influenced Me

As a youth worker, I know that relationships matter far more than any talk I'll ever give or any discussion I'll ever lead. 

I know this based on my own life experience. Even so, over the years, there have been three talks that have...

The real travesty of doubt

Doubting Thomas

A few weeks ago, my congregation’s associate pastor preached her farewell sermon. During it, she confessed a few doubts about her faith to us.

Afterward, one of my students – who’s been in the midst of her own spiritual crisis – talked about how...

Empowering teens

Youth Sunday Praise Band

A few weeks ago, my congregation held it's annual Youth Sunday, a tradition I have the ultimate love / hate relationship with.

For years, I've heard people describe this Sunday as the one in which our youth “take-over” worship. Even though I...

5 ways to show graduates you care

Yesterday, I had lunch with one of my youth group graduates who’s now in college. As our time together drew to a close, this student pondered, “So how long can we keep getting together like this?”

In processing her question, here’s what I think...

The face of joy


Today, I'm linking up with Lisa-Jo Baker‘s Five Minute Friday. The rules: Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

This week's prompt: Joy. 

Joy Photo

In the dead of winter, teens from my youth ministry delivered a...

Dealing with the Crazies


Recently, I had a window replaced. Consistently poor service left me disgruntled. After expressing my frustration to the installer, I received a call from the company’s district manager.

Still frustrated, I quickly rattled off a list of the...

10 on the 12th

Several years ago, my Qualitative Analysis Professor, Dr. Terry Linhart, mentioned using photos in research. He said this as a comment made in passing, but I wrote it down, intrigued by the notion. 

His comment percolated for the next month...

Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry


Jen Bradbury is a career youth worker with a diverse spiritual heritage that makes her uniquely qualified for youth work. Jen currently serves as the youth director at Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, IL and writes for Youth Worker Journal and the Immerse Magazine. She lives in Glen Ellyn, IL with her husband, Doug.

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