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Chapter 3:

Daily Themes & Talking Points

We give thanks for you and your role in serving as an Adult Leader for the 2013 LCMS Youth Gathering. We hope this chapter prepares you for the Biblical scripture and theological connections to the Gathering theme and subthemes. We also hope this resource will benefit you in the faith conversations you have with your youth participants and fellow adult participants. While there may be a few tweaks to this information, we expect the program to closely mirror what is below. Please also see the Live Love(d) Scriptural and Thematic Study that is available on the Gathering website:

Main Program Elements Off-site Servant Events

On Tuesday and Wednesday morning and Thursday afternoon, thousands of Gathering participants will be shuttled into the city of San Antonio to live love in the lives of others. Participants will grow in their understanding of the gifts and talents God has given to them and meet new people whom God deeply loves. Participants will see the impact that the community of believers can have on other individuals, neighborhoods, and communities.

Experiential Learning Center

Service also happens on the floor of the Experiential Learning Center. Halls A-D of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center will be filled with hands-on learning activities. • Hall A will have an emphasis on service with activities and learning opportunities geared to serving others in our world. • In Hall B, participants can connect with Gathering exhibitors including the Concordia University System, The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, and LCMS Youth Ministry. • In Hall C, participants can engage in hands-on learning activities that teach about our faith and the life we share as Christians. • Hall D is the recreation floor where participants can meet to play sports and other physical activities. Maps and guides to the space will be available in the Gathering Guidebook and on the app and website.

Interest Center Workshops

Interest Centers take place throughout the days of July 2-4 (Tuesday-Thursday) at the Convention Center and nearby hotels. These workshops provide opportunities to listen to experts in the field on a variety of topics and provide the platform to discuss issues in a safe, Christian environment. Some sessions also provide opportunities to be in community around bands and performers. This guide provides initial information about some of the subjects offered and will help shape a participant’s daily schedule. The Interest Center schedule also provides workshops especially tailored for adults. Consider working with other Adult Leaders to free yourself up to attend one of these workshops.

Off-site Interest Centers

Participants will also have opportunities to attend Off-Site Interest Center(s). Four different experiences will be offered that provide participants opportunities to learn more about Texan culture and the Live Love(d) theme. Congregational groups will have the opportunity to register online ( signup) for an Off-Site Interest Center as the Gathering nears. (Space is limited.) Please pay attention to upcoming emails and social media posts! If space remains, participants may register on-site in San Antonio.

Bible Study Academies

Gathering Bible Study Academies offer in-depth workshops for both youth and adults. Each Academy focuses on a specific topic or book of the Bible over two or three days of the Gathering. They are delivered in segments that last about an hour (one segment per day) and run parallel with other Interest Center workshops. They require advance registration (www.lcmsgathering. com/signup) and have limited seating, so keep your ears to the ground for forthcoming registration information!

Dome Events

All Gathering participants will come together six times in the Alamodome for Mass Events and Worship that celebrate our faith in Jesus and the community of believers in which He has placed us.

Mass Events

Mass Events will unwrap the “Live Love(d)” theme through Bible study, speakers, song, and community building components. The goals of Mass Events are to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ and confidence in His love for us. These events will provide encouragement in our daily Christian walk and God’s call to serve others as a reflection of how Jesus first loved us. These events will scripturally and thematically tie together other elements of the Gathering program.

The evening events on July 2 and 3, will have a “Mass Event Plus” time that will feature an act following the Mass Event. Congregational groups are invited to remain at the Alamodome for the performance but can also choose to return to their hotel or check out downtown San Antonio. There will be a Mass Event on Thursday, July 4, ending with fireworks in downtown San Antonio.


On the morning of the Fourth of July, we will gather for Divine Service during which we will remember our baptismal identity and receive God’s gifts for us in Word and Sacrament. We will be reminded of how Jesus’ love shown at the cross opened God’s Kingdom to all those called by the Holy Spirit into faith. LCMS Synodical President, Rev. Matthew Harrison, will serve as the preacher.

Night Life

Night Life events will be focused on bringing the community together for fun group activities, to hear selected speakers, and to also bring the evening to a close in prayer and praise. Most activities take place at Gathering hotels and will end by midnight each night. Please give your kids “permission” to get some rest and be ready for the next day of learning and new experiences. Please be sure to check the Gathering Guidebook and app for locations of Night Life activities.

Community Life Time

Thank you for your efforts to build community rooted in God’s word. We give thanks to you for every word of encouragement to your youth, your invitations to or leadership in worship and Bible study, and your extra phone calls and texts to youth on their days of joy and struggle. We know that the Gathering program and overall experience is most effective when youth have strong relationships with their families and home congregation. Thank you for your care for your participants! Community Life time is built into the Gathering program schedule to provide opportunities for further conversations about life and faith to God’s glory. Some of these conversations are going to take place over a meal, while walking to the facilities, or while waiting to get into an Interest Center. Dedicated time is provided in the late evenings following each Mass Event. In addition, Tuesday and Wednesday morning have a relaxed schedule to allow for Community Life time in which groups can be engaged in the Gathering Bible studies.

The remainder of this chapter delves into the subthemes of Live Love(d). If you have not done so, please considering reading “The Live Love(d) Thematic & Scriptural Study: A Primer of First John” found at

Subtheme: beLOVED Question: “What is Love?” (Will be presented at the end of Monday’s Mass Event) Key Scripture: 1 John 4:9; 1 John 3:1; Acts 2:1-6 See page 24 of the Scriptural and Thematic Study for subtheme questions. See the first pre-Gathering Bible Study:

Subtheme Talking Points • • •

Each participant is a beloved child of God for which Christ died As a child of God, we are part of a community of believers Celebrate the community that is ours in our baptism

Program Highlights

Key point to help prepare you for Monday night’s Mass Events •

On Monday night, the participants will be challenged to define what love looks like in their lives. They will hear of the awesome love God gives as He calls us His “beloved.” The night will end as the participants both remember the biblical narrative of Pentecost and celebrate being together as the community of believers. It is our goal that, like the early Christians on Pentecost, the participants will be encouraged by the spirit of God as they meet together all in one place.

Thoughts/questions for community group leaders to process Monday night’s event • • •

How do participants define “love” in their own lives/situations? Each participant is a beloved child of God for which Christ died. We are surrounded by a great community of Christian believers.

Experiential Learning Center

• Challenge Course/Community Builders • Banner design for Worship Service • Exhibitors • LCMS Youth Ministry Booth • First Responders • Climbing Wall • Picture this... • Giant Twister • Minute to Win it!

Interest Centers Topics ADULT • •

A World Without Faces: Social Media and Ministry Ministry with the Family

YOUTH • • • •

Mourning to Joy: End of Life Issues through a Lutheran Lens Friendship: Going Beyond Followers and Friend Requests Resting in God's Presence Science and Scripture: Best Frenemies?

Subtheme: deLOVED Question: Key Scripture:

What love am I pursuing? Genesis 3 and 1 John 2:15

See page 24 of the Scriptural and Thematic Study for subtheme questions.

Subtheme Talking Points

• “DeLoved” has us look at our lives and understand how sin separates us (de-) from the love of God. Our understanding of love is twisted and distorted by the world, the devil, and our sinful desires and cravings. • Does false love always look ugly and disgusting, or can it look extremely attractive and seductive? • What loves have I pursued? • How have these loves left me empty and no better off than before? • What should I pursue? • How far did Christ pursue me? • How can I pursue Christ's love and be satisfied in Him?

Program Highlights

Experiential Learning Center • • • •

Jumbo Jenga Poverty Simulation Wipeout Challenge World Café

Interest Centers Topics YOUTH • • •

"How to be Awesome!" and other Pointless Pursuits... A Tale of God's Love for Addicts Cover My Shame

• • • •

Dealing with Stress Five Symptoms of #mediaaddiction Obsession: When Food Takes Over Your Life Once Upon A Time

Key points to help prepare you for Tuesday night’s Mass Events • • •

This night’s theme is “heavy” in the sense of looking at the Law, specifically the First Commandment. We will grapple with Adam and Eve’s decision to not listen to their loving Heavenly Father and how that decision affected the history of humankind (Romans 5:12-21, I Corinthians 15:22). We will be confronted with how we chase false loves and how that separates us from God’s perfect love and plan for us. These false loves lead us to break many of God’s commands (I John 2:15-17). Be mindful of participants who might take this night harder than the others. However, we have a loving Heavenly Father who has always loved His creation. He never forgets humans in their need. He promised a Savior in the Garden of Eden and did not forget this promise. (This story will be told in full on Wednesday and Thursday.) This night will have a Mass Event Plus time. The “mood” will be subdued as we continue our reflection on our need of a Savior from our sin.

Thoughts/questions for community group leaders to process Tuesday night’s event • What love am I pursuing? • How do these pursuits leave me feeling empty/deloved? • With what am I filling my life? • How does Jesus meet that need for a Savior, not only for you, but also for all?

Subtheme: LOVE Lived

Question: How is Jesus real love? Key Scripture: 1 John 4:7-10, 1 John 1:1-3 See page 25 of the Scriptural and Thematic Study for subtheme questions.

Subtheme Talking Points • • • •

Jesus is the embodiment of God’s love. He is the love of God with flesh and blood. His life, death, and resurrection matters in my life today. His words of forgiveness have power. On the cross we see God’s love fully displayed for us.

Program Highlights

Experiential Learning Center

• •

Alamo Central Prayer Trail

Interest Centers Topics

YOUTH • Altared Reality (A Look at Marriage) • Ask Anything! Q & A with Theology Guy • Denomination Domination • God’s Call - Are you a 2 Timothy 2:2 Jesus follower? • I Believe but.... • Love Lived--And Here's Evidence! • One Way • Too Many Rules? • Trust

Key point to help prepare you for Wednesday night’s Mass Events •

On Wednesday night, we focus on the life of Jesus. Jesus is the embodiment of love. From His birth to His ministry to His death and resurrection, Jesus shows us God’s love in real tangible ways. On this night, participants will experience the life and love of Christ for them.

Thoughts/questions for community group leaders to process Wednesday night’s event and lead into worship on Thursday morning • • •

Love born…Love sent…Love died…Love lives… What moment in tonight’s Mass Event had the biggest impact on you? What goes through your mind when you hear the words “you are forgiven”? How is Jesus real love?


LOVE Lived is introduced on Wednesday Night and then continues into Worship on Thursday morning. The service will continue the celebration of LOVE Lived for us in Jesus Christ. On the morning of the Fourth of July, we will gather for Divine Service and remember our baptismal identity and receive God’s gifts for

us in Word and Sacrament. We will be reminded of how Jesus’ love shown at the cross opened God’s Kingdom to all those called by the Holy Spirit into faith.

Subtheme: Live LOVED

Question: Who does His love make me? Key Scripture: 1 John 3:1-2 See page 25 of the Scriptural and Thematic Study for subtheme questions.

Subtheme Talking Points • • • •

Identity is the key term for this subtheme. We look in the mirror every day. How often do we judge our identity based on what we see? Baptism is a key element in forming our Christian identity. (For those participants who believe, but aren’t baptized, identity is formed as the Spirit is present in the Word.) Our value is found in relationship and identity as beloved children of God. Not in what we do. Not in how we look. Not in how others see us. Not in what we need to become. Identity is in whose we are, now: Beloved, called children of God, this is what we are.

Program Highlights

Experiential Learning Center • • • • • • •

Challenge Course Climbing Wall Community Garden Giant Twister Learn your Love Language Picture this... Text and Drive Simulator

Interest Centers Topics

ADULT • A Youth Ministry Manifesto: What 40 Years in Youth Ministry Has Taught Me • Equipping Teens to Lead • How to Lead a GREAT Bible Study • If you remember the Gathering of ’98, this is for you • Top 10 Ways to Ruin a Mission Trip

YOUTH • • •

Bearing Fruit How to Get Rich Fast Not So Modern Family!

Key points to help prepare you for Thursday night’s Mass Event • • • •

Participants will explore different labels and vocations that form their identity. Ultimately our identity is secured by Jesus and formed in baptism. As baptized believers, the youth will celebrate that they are God’s beloved children and experience freedom in identity as children of God and citizens of a nation. Our identity comes not from what we do (Friday: Live Love), but in whose we are (child of God). Thursday night will feature a special memorial video, which remembers those from the Gathering community who have passed away since the last National Youth Gathering. If your participants have experienced a death in their community group, school, or own family, this may be an emotional night for them. Thursday night’s event will include an interactive baptismal remembrance, using a small amount of water for each participant. We invite you to treat this as a reverent experience. Outdoor fireworks will follow the Mass Event outside the Dome. Please be ready to follow special exit directions for an orderly dismissal.

Thoughts/questions for community group leaders to process Thursday night’s Mass Event • Key Question: Who does His love make me? • While the goal of Friday’s event will be to explore “what we do”, Thursday evening is centered on “who we are.” Our first impulse is to define ourselves based on what we do. In Jesus, our identity includes who we are (His beloved child). • For Americans, July 4 is all about freedom. We have many freedoms as Americans. We also have God’s free grace as His children. As Christians, how do we live in these freedom and understand that we use these freedoms to serve others?

Subtheme: Live LOVE

Question: How do I Live LOVE? Key Scriptures: I John 3:16, 18; I John 4:4 See page 25 of the Scriptural and Thematic Study for subtheme questions.

Subtheme Talking Points • • • •

We live for Jesus, empowered by His Spirit. Jesus has a purpose for us to believe in Him and live out acts of service He has prepared for us. God’s perfect love drives out our fear. All things are possible with Christ – nothing that youth think is an obstacle (family relationships, friendships, personal issues, past sins and mistakes, social or economic standing, etc.) is really an obstacle to living life in response to God’s amazing grace to us.

Program Highlights

Experiential Learning Center

• Blood Drive • Food Collection • Food Package Assembly • The Great LINC-Up Challenge • Learn your Love Language • Living Love Beyond Borders • Locks of Love • Making Aids Kits • Many Thanks! • Poverty Simulation • Text a Craft • Upcycle

Interest Center Topics ADULT •

Live Love – Ideas for Involving Youth in Servant Events


“Mission San Jose: A Missional History of Texas” Racism—Can’t we all just get along?”


Abuse - Closer to Home than you Think Being a Voice for Life When Nobody Else Will Speak

• • • • • • • •

Christian Politics 101 Cracking the Parental Code Elimidate and Divorce Five14: Being the Light in a Dark World Life as a Mission Trip Life under Sharia Law: Understanding Islam & Reaching Muslims They Call Themselves Christians Take a Stand Against Bullying

Key point to help prepare you for Friday morning’s Mass Events • • •

We have had five days of learning, serving, and fun, and now it’s time to go home. What do we take with us? In our baptism, we are Jesus’ own. This was the case before we came; this was the case this week. Now Jesus goes with us back home and promises to be with us the rest of our lives. We return to opportunities to serve others back home. Some of these situations and people might not be new, but Jesus may put new opportunities into our lives. How am I prepared to live confidently in who I am and to love and serve those around me? I am not alone in any challenge in my life. Jesus is with me, I have new friends I can rely on, and I have a better understanding of the community of believers in to which God has called me.

Thoughts/questions for community group leaders to process Friday morning’s event •

Questions will be a part of the post-Gathering Bible study provided in the Gathering Bible. It will help young people see their connection to their home congregation, give vision for their future, and provide reflection on what they have learned at the Gathering.

Planning Resource: Daily Themes & Talking Points  

Chapter 3 of the Gathering planning resource is crucial for preparing your group for their Gathering experience and equipping you to lead th...

Planning Resource: Daily Themes & Talking Points  

Chapter 3 of the Gathering planning resource is crucial for preparing your group for their Gathering experience and equipping you to lead th...