Few parents would say being a teenager is easy. In addition to school, teens face pressure and uncertainty in their relationships and from American culture. And then there’s social media. The Missouri District Senior High Youth Gathering offers a chance for teens to take a step back and strengthen their faith.
Registration for the 2018 fall Senior High Youth Gathering is now open. The event is Nov 16 to 18 at Cross Pointe Retreat Center in Rocky Mount, Mo. The weekend includes time for recreation, with escape rooms, a rec center, S’mores and games. There will also be devotions, worship and breakout sessions.
A Brief Pause from Hectic Schedules
Jeffrey Kullmann, a volunteer at Salem Lutheran Church in Affton, has been to every Missouri District Youth Gathering since 1996. He says, “The event makes a positive difference in the lives of high school youth. It is a quick weekend that helps them pause from the craziness of life, have some fun, make new friends, solidify current friendships and reflect on what God has done for them and how much He loves them.”
Hannah DeCuir, a college sophomore and member of Salem Lutheran Church agrees. She says these events are “definitely something that everyone should take advantage of because they’re an opportunity to grow in your faith and also meet people the same age from all over the state, who share the same faith. It’s so much fun to go on this trip and meet new people and spend time with your youth group family while learning more about your faith and serving the community.”
District Gatherings Provide Value in Times of Both Joy and Sadness
This year’s gathering will include (among other topics) attention to issues such as depression and suicide and how we face them as Christians. Recently, the American Academy of Pediatrics updated their guidelines because up to one in five teens will experience depression.
Hannah believes these events can lift teens up in troubled times, pointing out, “This trip is good for people that are struggling with their faith, too. Sometimes believing and maintaining your faith is hard especially when life is always throwing you curveballs, but you’d be surprised what a weekend trip like this can do with the right mindset.”
Jeffrey has seen this many times of the years as well, pointing out, “When teens start to struggle with things like school or relationships, they are reminded of the promises of God, that were strongly taught at the District Youth Gatherings.”
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The Impact of District Youth Gatherings Outlast the Weekend
Though the District Youth Gatherings occur over a few days, the wisdom and joy students receive continues to grow long after they return home. This leads to a long-term strengthening of both faith and relationships that students can carry with them for years to come.
DCE Andrew Nelson, Director of Family Life at Chapel of the Cross Lutheran Church, observes, “This event is a meaningful connection point for the youth and adults who attend. Upon returning home, there is a shared experience for those who attend. The relationships built and memories shared during a weekend like this help establish a foundation for our ministry throughout the year.”
Jeffrey has also seen the lasting effects of this weekend. He notes, “We have been blessed, because when we go, most if not all of our group comes home with hearts on fire for God. They are energized and ready to serve God in their homes, schools, neighborhoods and communities.”