“Awesome,” “cool,” “great,” “wonderful,” are common adjectives used by youth as they return from any youth convention. These words and more have been expressed by one thousand, three hundred and sixty nine attendees at the Higher Things Youth Convention, held at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN., Tuesday, July 6 – Friday, July 9th, 2013, representing 184 congregations, 119 pastors from 30 states. All this was accomplished at a most affordable price! And Purdue was only the second of three Higher Things Youth Conventions offered this summer.
My wife and I were chaperones for thirteen youth using the church’s fifteen seat passenger van. Pulling a trailer carrying roughly five hundred pounds of luggage we drove round-trip approximately fifteen hundred miles from Ottertail, MN to West Lafayette, IN, and back and taking an extra day each way for travel time. The fees can be broken down in this manner:
To Attend Higher Things:
Registration 325.00 / person (incl. all food, lodging while at Conference + T-Shirt J )
x 15 attendees = $4,875.00
4 motel rooms in Wisconsin/Illinois each way (total of 8 rooms) = $722.28
Gas = $502.01
Chicago tolls = $46.45
Grand Total = $6,145.74
Price per individual attendee: $409.72
Divided by fifteen (15) people the price came to $409.72 per attendee. This is truly a bargain and within the range of affordability for many financially strapped churches. Thank you to Jesus for Higher Things’ faithful use of resources!
Throughout this excitement and mountain top high the youth were catechized in their baptismal faith as lasting friendships were made and old ones joyously reconnected. The joyous emotions will slowly return to a faithful normalcy as they resume their respective vocations as son or daughter, student, babysitter, mower of lawns, etc. However, the preached Gospel and teaching of the Faith which the young people received at Higher Things, Purdue, will sustain them throughout their lives.
God’s people are fed and nourished with sound law / gospel preaching whereas they perish for lack of knowledge says the prophet Hosea (4:6). The theme for this year’s Higher Things Conference was “From Above” teaching that we are born “from above” (Jn 3:3, 7; Gk. anwqen) [Mt 27:51; Mk 15:38; Jn 19:11] as God through the Means of Grace comes to us “from above,” from outside ourselves. Throughout Higher Things at Purdue there were many, many sectionals offered to the youth on a tremendous variety of subjects. A few examples of the sectionals may be seen with this abbreviated list.
- “Bridezilla”: The Relationship of the Church to Her Husband
- Homosexuality: Jesus Died for That, Too.
- Infant Baptism: Navigating the Waters of Discontent
- Lutheranism in “Les Miserables”
- The Role of Cave Men and Modern Women in Church
- Science and Faith: Do They Conflict?
- So You Think You Can Date?
- Surviving University with Your Faith Intact
- The Jewish Feasts and John’s Gospel
- The Real Hunger Games
- They Died and Came Back to Tell about It
- Understanding Islam
- What Makes a Hymn a Hymn?
To view all fifty-eight offered sectionals with a short description you may click on this link: >>http://higherthings.org/conferences/schedule/42?all=sectionals<< .
In addition to sound catechesis Higher Things aids and equips me as a parish pastor when it comes to the liturgy of the Church found in Lutheran Service Book. The Divine Services were truly divine! On opening and closing day the Divine Service from our Church’s hymnal was Setting Three and then Setting One; both with Holy Communion. Throughout the conference Matins (9:00 – 9:30 am), Vespers (2:00 – 2:30 pm), Evening Prayer (7:15 – 7:45 pm) were used. Evening Devotions in our dorms followed the Service of Compline (11:30 – 11:45 pm) from Lutheran Service Book.
In the Divine Service, the Divine, Jesus, served us with the forgiveness of sins through faithful law / gospel preaching. What joy coursed through my heart when one of my youth commented, “Hey pastor, these are the same services we use back home at St. John’s.” Through reverent use the next generation was being trained in the way it should go (Prov 22:6) to treasure the gift of the Lutheran Liturgy found in our hymnal. All this was accompanied with powerful preaching which lifted up Word and Sacraments as the means by which God comes to us.
In the cafeteria over abundant sumptuous food the youth would discuss what sectionals they would attend and where they would go. In talking with the security personnel at Purdue they more than once marveled to Mary and me how respectful and well behaved the youth were at this conference. And I as a parish pastor was fed with the truth of Christ centered preaching and teaching that I may return home to God’s gift to me in my blessed dual parish, love them as their servant, and offer them the gifts of our crucified and risen Savior, Jesus Christ that we may live.
- Pastor Weber