ELCA Youth Gathering Theme

We are excited to share with you the theme for the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering, “This Changes Everything.” Our primary scripture will be Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”

Grace is a foundational and distinctive piece of the Lutheran faith. This gift, undeserved and freely given, changes lives and perspectives as people realize they are enough because of what Christ has done and are called into the world to serve their neighbor and share the good news.

Our logo is a visual representation of our theme and the 2018 Gathering experience. It incorporates the coming together of a mosaic to reflect the diverse host city of Houston, as well as the idea that we are a church where all are imperfect and incomplete, yet we each belong in – and have an important place in – God’s masterpiece. The cross at the center of the logo is the focus – it is God’s grace, through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, that changes everything for all people.

In her book “Woo: Awakening Teenagers’ Desire to Follow in the Way of Jesus,” Morgan Schmidt identifies the three central desires of teens.

All youth desire:

  • Someone to become
  • Somewhere to belong
  • Something to do [that changes the world]

Throughout the 2015 Gathering and the evaluations and conversations that followed, we heard our young people echo these desires again and again. As young people desire and struggle to find someone to become, somewhere to belong and something to do, the Gathering seeks to be a ministry that helps define some of that or at least open up pathways of discovery. Ultimately, we want youth to understand the fierce love that God has for them, just as they are, and that by grace, through faith, they have been saved. When young people (or really any age person!) truly claim this reality, it indeed changes everything.


Daily Themes

Each day of the Gathering, all programming will reflect a daily theme, and how that changes everything. The daily themes of the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering are as follows:


God's call changes everything

Call Changes Everything

Exodus 3:1-16; Moses and the Burning Bush

God's love changes everything

Love Changes Everything

John 4:1-42; Woman at the Well

God's grace changes everything

Grace Changes Everything

Acts 8:26-40; Phillip and the Eunuch

God's hope changes everything

Hope Changes Everything

Luke 24:13-25; Road to Emmaus

Jesus changes everything

Jesus Changes Everything

Mark 5:21-42; Hemorrhaging Woman/Raising of the Little Girl


We look forward to diving deeply into this theme with you in the months to come!