Why are we committed to holding youth gatherings?

Congregations of the Nebraska District have expressed ongoing concern about (or worked hard to avoid) the idea of Confirmation as a graduation from church. In an effort to promote more participation and connection among the youth of our congregations, the Nebraska District hosts and helps coordinate several events specifically targeting middle school students, high school students, and the many adult leaders who attend with the youth as chaperones.

The Nebraska District education and youth department, along with DCEs and teachers from around the District, work together to plan these events. We feel it is important to start participation during middle school, while students are already engaged within their churches as confirmation students. If we can get them “hooked” as middle schoolers, our hope is that they will be more excited about staying involved as high schoolers—by attending the gatherings, and also by getting more involved in their local congregations

The goal of our gathering cycle is to create a routine for students. The Middle School Youth Gathering, for students in grades 6-8, is held every year. A three-year cycle of themes gives students an opportunity to experience a new overall concept each year throughout the middle school cycle. Then, in their four years as high schoolers, they will have the opportunity to attend up to three gatherings. LCMS Youth Ministry hosts the LCMS Youth Gathering every three years, in the summer. Our Nebraska District high school gathering is also held every three years, in November of the year after the national gathering. This creates an opportunity for high schoolers about every 18 months.

The goal of all of our gatherings is to provide opportunities for education, worship, fellowship, connection, and plenty of fun. By bringing groups together, the gatherings show young Lutherans that they are not alone in their faith, so they can be encouraged to continue in their faith life as they grow.

The 2023 District Youth Gathering will be [extra]ordinary

As we scroll through Instagram and Snapchat we are bombarded with images and videos of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things. People are living awesome lives and it makes us second-guess our own. The truth is that most of us live pretty ordinary lives. We wake up. We go to school. We do homework. We hang out with friends. We spend way too much time on our phones. We’ve got “extra” in our ordinary lives. But it’s stuff that makes us anxious or sad, things that worry us, scare us, and confuse us. It’s extra questions stirring within us and extra pressures all around us.

Amidst these pressures and questions of life there is an amazing truth: God loves ordinary people. “[extra]ordinary” will lead students through encounters with Jesus who answers questions and calms fears. Students will discover that the love of Jesus is the “extra” that their ordinary needs. Plan now to join the 2023 District Youth Gathering at the Younes Conference Center South in Kearney on November 17-19.

The theme verse for the gathering is Luke 5:26: And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filed with awe, saying, “We have seen extraordinary things today.”

The gathering planning team is working on programming to include time for worship, breakout speakers, fellowship and games, and service projects. We are planning for 600-700 participants from the Nebraska, South Dakota, and Rocky Mountain Districts.  Registration will open in the summer. More information will be added throughout the year to https://ndlcms.org/dyg/, including fundraising ideas for your congregation’s group.

Your help will make this gathering extraordinary

We try to keep costs for our participants low, so we are looking for assistance with some of the costs of this event. We thank Lutheran Church Extension Fund and the LCMS Youth Ministry Office for their continued support over the past several years. We invite your business, organization, family, congregation, or school to sponsor this event at one of the levels below.

You can also assist by directly supporting your local youth group with donations and fundraisers, attending as a chaperone, and by praying for them. Thrivent members can also offer to apply for an Action Team Grant on behalf of their congregation or the gathering. We are grateful for support from group or individual donors and are happy to discuss other options that you may have to suggest! For questions and details, please contact Candi Menze at candim@ndlcms.org or 402-643-2961 x1010.

Details about the Gathering are available here.