Great Stuff Found on the Web — Stand Firm on Reviews of the 2010 LCMS National Youth Gathering

Frequent BJS poster and commentator Scott Diekmann posted this a month or so ago on his blog, Stand Firm. I happened to catch it in my search for something completely different, but thought it should be posted here. Ever since I heard from my son about what happened at the event he went to back in 2001 I’ve been concerned about the NYG and the non-lutheran teaching that our youth are getting there (well, I lied .. I’ve been concerned for many years, I just didn’t have second-hand experience before then).

Reviews of the 2010 LCMS National Youth Gathering

It’s nice that the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) thinks it’s important enough to minister to the youth of our Synod that we have the National Youth Gathering (NYG) every three years. There’s a lot of good things offered at the Gathering, but yet there were things this year that strayed from the teaching of Christ. The average congregant doesn’t know that there are theological problems with the NYG, and, given the chance, might not recognize those problems. We did not send our son to the NYG because of these problems, though he had the opportunity to attend. Instead, he taught Vacation Bible School to the First Nations people of central British Columbia. I don’t want my son being taught even a little generic Evangelical moralism or being taught that the Holy Spirit works through the rhythmic banging of a drum while in the care of the LCMS.

It’s not unreasonable to assume that those in charge of the NYG would see to it that proper doctrine is taught at this event in all of its venues, as Scripture tells us to do, yet that’s not always the case. Who is responsible for determining if our children are being properly taught? Ultimately, it is we, the parents. For those of you who might not recognize all of the error being taught and are concerned about the spiritual well-being of your kids, assembled below are blog posts, a podcast, and a video which review some of the problems at the 2010 NYG. As an alternative to the NYG I would suggest Higher Things, a Recognized Service Organization of the LCMS which will properly catechize your children, offering yearly events and much more.

Timotheos, who is one of the authors of the blog Balaam’s Ass, offers a decent summary in his comment on a speaker at one of the mass events:

But the worst of it was that when she talked about her daughter being in heaven, she said it was because she had given her life to the Lord. (Could it be that Baptist worship leads to a Baptist theology of conversion? Just asking.) Frankly, that’s simply not true. Her daughter is not in heaven because she gave her life to the Lord; she is in heaven because Jesus gave His life for her. That’s not just semantics; it’s the difference between heaven and hell, comfort and despair, life and death. It matters how we talk, and if we do not recognize how foreign the thought of “giving our life to Jesus” is to ”grace alone,” then we have ceased to be Lutheran. And that’s fine–if you don’t want to be Lutheran. But how is it acceptable for a Lutheran woman, married to a Lutheran pastor, to say things like that to teenagers who have friends who believe that salvation happens exactly how she worded it? It matters how we talk, because, ultimately, we will think and believe the same as what we say. Ask a liturgical scholar how many times the liturgy changed before the doctrine. It’s not my personal bias, it’s a fact.

Balaam’s Ass: An Open Letter on the LCMS National Youth Gathering

Pastor Jonathan Fisk: Take Home More God

Pastor Jonathan Fisk: I’m Just Very Confused – Part 1: Simulized Adrenali-Fide

Pastor Jonathan Fisk: I’m Just Very Confused – Part 2: Authorized Take-Over Deum

Pastor Thomas Messer: Take Home More God

Pastor Thomas Messer: On “Prayer Walking”

Putting Out the Fire: So, What Are The Rubrics For Liturgical Thundersticks During Worship?

Table Talk Radio: Table Talk Radio’s Youth Gathering Survival Kit

The Brothers of John the Steadfast: LCMS Youth Gathering Praise Music Now Comes with a Theological Disclaimer

Be sure to keep Stand Firm on your regular web reading list.

About Norm Fisher

Norm was raised in the UCC in Connecticut, and like many fell away from the church after high school. With this background he saw it primarily as a service organization. On the miracle of his first child he came back to the church. On moving to Texas a few years later he found a home in Lutheranism when he was invited to a confessional church a half-hour away by our new neighbors.

He is one of those people who found a like mind in computers while in Middle School and has been programming ever since. He's responsible for many websites, including the Book of Concord,, and several other sites.

He has served the church in various positions, including financial secretary, sunday school teacher, elder, PTF board member, and choir member.

Norm has been involved behind the scenes in many of the "go-to" websites for Lutherans going back many years.


Great Stuff Found on the Web — Stand Firm on Reviews of the 2010 LCMS National Youth Gathering — 6 Comments

  1. Might it just be *possible* that the distinction (extremely forced and implausible as it actually is) between “worship” and “worship service” at the NYG is a *beginning* of an understanding amongst the NYG high muckety-mucks that Lutherans do indeed have a unique (i.e., Scriptural) doctrine of Worship? It may be a sign that the Light is breaking through–maybe, perhaps, a little?

    (Call me Pollyanna if you want.)

  2. Note that the Higher Things conferences are now advertised on the LCMS website. It’s a step forward.

    Isn’t the Youth Board one boards disbanded by the Convention. Will it be reconstituted?

  3. “But the worst of it was that when she talked about her daughter being in heaven, she said it was because she had given her life to the Lord.”

    I think I would have remembered if someone said anything like this. Is there a video?

  4. @Nathaniel Jensen #3

    Nathaniel Jensen :
    “But the worst of it was that when she talked about her daughter being in heaven, she said it was because she had given her life to the Lord.”
    I think I would have remembered if someone said anything like this. Is there a video?

    I say this only to add my two cents and not to start any conflict. I have no video or audio proof to show but I remember it. It stuck out to me because I got a chill down my spine when she said it.

    It would be great if there was a video of the speaker in question so that it could be posted for clarification.

  5. I think it best, as this issue was a minor to us leaving the LCMS (Youth Group, ACT, etc) that we look forward, rather than backward. Some things, are made new again, are they not?
    I need to believe, that under President Harrison’s watch, this type of thing, would not be allowed to continue.

    Rather than dwell on what was, what we should be discussing is what should be next time. None of us, are above error, that I wish we were. None are above misjudgements or poor choices, that I wish we were, we sadly are not…not on this side of the fence.
    None, of us are. But how we go forward is most vital at this point & how we state & portray the changes made, are most important to those young ones & Youth leaders, who’ve attended in the past. We cannot always right wrongs, we can only make changes & improvements, based on the Solas. If for the only reason of, “we did this, now we do this, let’s see…”. It isn’t so much, what we do when echt, that young ones watch, it’s when we are in error or misstep, that they watch how we speak, act, & handle ourselves, in the doing & the righting.

    The worst thing that could happen, if we do a Higher Things based gathering, would be, to say, “that didn’t go well as it was…this, this, & this & it was under person A,B,C…, we need to relook & think this, for next time.” One thing I know, the next one is less likely, to come with a Theological Disclaimer.

    And I thought all this was past, for me & us. I so do wish it was, gone & far away, but it isn’t & looks like it won’t be, even in WELS. Ya get a breather, but the fight & forthought continue. As it has always been & will be until our Lord comes back for us. Oi vey, come soon!

  6. Thanks for promoting Higher Things. The catechesis at our conferences is one of the main areas we take our responsibilities very seriously. Why go through the expense and effort to send teenagers across the country to a Lutheran youth gathering only to have them taught un-Lutheran doctrines by people who don’t even claim to be Lutheran? No doubt, the speakers brought in for things like a NYG do an excellent job, many of them do these sorts of events on full-time, year-round youth gathering circuits. Unfortunately, I don’t think many parents and congregations take a hard look at just what is being taught and by whom.

    At a Higher Things conference, all of the teachers are LCMS pastors or lay members in good standing of LCMS congregations. Aside from the plenary teachers, the breakout sessions (about 50 unique sessions at each conference) are all taught by these adults who are already at the conference with their church’s youth. The primary reason we do things this way is primarily because it means that the kids will be taught our Lutheran faith. These teachers are then readily accessible to the youth because they’re there at meals, worship, fun times, in their dorms, etc. And the youth DO take advantage of these opportunities, and for that reason we really encourage pastors to attend with their groups and congregations to make it possible for them to do so.

    If anyone has suggestions for making our conferences even better, please feel free to contact me at [email protected].

    Sandra Ostapowich
    Conference & Retreat Coordinator
    Higher Things, Inc.

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