As we prepare for the gathering each time we go, we inevitably have questions about why we go in the first place. It's an expensive experience, after all, and there are plenty of other ways the church can be engaged in learning and service that are a heck of a lot cheaper.
And yet, this is one a few experiences that give a glimpse of what the wider church looks like. The opportunity to worship and fellowship with 30,000 other people from across the ELCA is something that isn't experienced in other ways.
If you have the time, take a look at Is it Worth It?, a blog post by Jennifer Shimota Krushas, an ELCA pastor. She describes the impact the National Youth Gathering has on young people. She writes:
They will experience the Lutheran Church in a way that many of them never have before. They’ll see how big it is. That their congregation of 50 is part of something so alive and enormous, something that is big enough to say, “Let’s raise a million dollars to dig wells, so God’s children can drink clean water.” And then watch as a million dollars rolls in. That their little Trinity Lutheran in rural Iowa is a part of something so alive and intentional about bringing resurrection life everywhere that their 30 books are stacked on another congregation’s 25 books and the stacks grow until there are semi-trucks filled with books driving toward Houston, so that every child in a huge city can have a leg-up in literacy.
The National Youth Gathering gives us all a chance to be part of something bigger. It allows us to see the many ways God is active and working in the world. Through worship and learning, playing and serving, we get to know what it's like to be part of the larger body of Christ. We discover new things about ourselves and see one another in new ways.
Jennifer Shimota Krushas concludes:
So, here’s the thing: Our kids will tell the story of the church. They will.
And the same is true for our little group from Charlottesville. In the big and little things, we will learn about and experience God's love that changes everything. This experience will have a lasting impact on the youth and adults we send to Houston, changing them and changing the world. And that seems more than worth it.
Peace Lutheran Youth
Middle School Youth Group (grades 6-8) and a High School Youth Group (grades 9-12) meet weekly and also participate in Virginia Synod and ELCA youth events. Our youth are a vital part of Peace and we welcome all to join us!