To date we have highlighted two of the three program components for this Gathering, Practice Justice (July issue) and Practice Peacemaking (August/September issue). This month we will focus on the third program area called Practice Discipleship.
Discipleship is not an activity that we do. It is a life that we lead. Ultimately, it is about following Jesus. You began to practice discipleship the moment you received God’s baptismal promises.
At the ELCA Youth Gathering, we will have the opportunity during one of our days together to practice being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and to learn to take your relationship with Jesus to a deeper level.
You will continue to practice discipleship when you return home to your families, your church, your schools, your community and the world.
The seven faith practices lifted up by the ELCA will be the focus on the Practice Discipleship day at the Gathering:
Following Jesus is a way of life. When these practices become part of our daily life, we are better equipped to live the life to which Christ has called us. We see more clearly who we are in Christ, we are not afraid to ask questions and wonder about the mysteries of faith, we are excited to share the story of what Christ is doing in our life, and we are open to where the Spirit is calling us.
As you prepare for the Gathering:
Adult leaders: You are invited and encouraged to take part in a variety of youth ministry training opportunities. Each synod has a Gathering coach that has been trained to lead face-to-face trainings in your area on basic youth ministry skills. Free webinars are available to watch live or download later. These webinars cover Lutheran theology, youth ministry theory and practical skills. The 2012 ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza will offer all of these trainings in one place.
Congregation groups: As you prepare for the Gathering, the Getting Ready materials will be shaped around the seven faith practices and help you apply them to your daily life.
At the Gathering:
There will be three components to your assigned day of Practice Discipleship at the Gathering:
Your morning will begin in a hotel ballroom, where you will gather with your synod for Dwelling in the Word. This will be a full liturgy worship with Eucharist, to which your bishop has been invited to preach.
Following worship, you will move into small groups for interactive learning in stations around the seven faith practices.
Then you will go into the city for an afternoon discipleship lab, putting into practice what you have learned on the streets of New Orleans. You will be given resources for activities and discussion -- a “faith scavenger hunt” of sorts -- around the seven faith practices, and how they apply to your daily life.
After the Gathering:
The real work begins when you return home. How will you continue to deepen your faith through these practices in your daily life? How will you be a witness -- share your story of Christ -- with your friends, your family, your church, your community and into the world? The Gathering will provide resources for adult leaders and youth to support the ongoing faith discovery after the Gathering.
Start growing NOW
At the Gathering, you can donate your hair to be made into wigs for kids who need them. So get everyone, adults and youth, to start growing your hair NOW (or more accurately, stop cutting your hair now because it’s already growing all on its own). You will need to be able to donate at least 8 inches. At the 2009 Gathering, 310 people donated hair and next summer we hope to far surpass this number. After you donate your hair, you will get a quick stylish cut for free. For a further challenge, consider saving the money you would have spent on haircuts for the next 9 months and bring it to the gathering to donate toward the cost of making the wigs.
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Banners, pens and other Gathering items now available at OldLutheran.com.
When we went to press, more than 10,500 participants from 1,085 congregations were in the process of entering data as part of the Gathering's registration soft opening
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ELCA Youth Gathering8765 W. Higgins Rd. Chicago, IL 60631