I (Pastor Jay) have been out of town quite a bit lately, first in Milwaukee for the National LCMS Convention (read more about that here http://universitylutheranchurch.org/2016/07/15/inside-lcms-baseball/ ), and most recently in New Orleans LA for the National Youth Gathering.
Of those two trips, the Youth Gathering was certainly the biggest. The Convention featured approximately 3,000 people who were voting and doing things that would pave the way for the future of the Church, but the Youth Gathering was 22,000 students and about 3,000 adult volunteers and staff. That means 25,000 people who were in New Orleans as a very huge presence of Jesus in that place.
Many of you have never been to a Youth Gathering, and I have never been to a Youth Gathering as an adult, so I figured it might be somewhat interesting to hear what the general schedule was:
9am to noon – Bible study groups met and studied the Bible together. Participants got a free copy of the Lutheran Study Bible to use and take home.
noon to 5pm – A variety of options existed for the afternoon, including going to a “Interest Center” which was a breakout classroom experience (this is what I was doing, leading a talk called “Relax and Be a Christian”). Additionally youth could go see exhibitors from all over the Lutheran church, they could do service projects, and they could play a few games to decompress.
5pm to 8pm – Free time to take a nap, grab some delicious New Orleans food, etc
8pm to 10pm – “Mass Event” – An event for all 25,000 people at the Gathering. This was sort of like a late night talk show format with musical guests, house band, speakers, video vignettes, etc.
10pm to 11pm – Late night events – After the Mass Event you could stick around to see a Christian band called “The Rend Collective” or watch the Christian comedy group “The Skit Guys” do their thing.
Wednesday – I left on Wednesday morning, but everyone else got to worship together and 25,000 people had communion together. I’ve been to this worship service before and it is powerful.
I’d love to talk with you some more about the things I saw at Youth Gathering!