Part of the Living Into the Future Together [taskforce’s report]  included the call for every ELCA congregation to have a mission strategy by the end of 2012. This resolution was adopted by the 2011 Churchwide Assembly. It is the responsibility of the Congregational and Synodical Mission unit of the ELCA, the churchwide unit in which the Youth Gathering is housed, to fulfill that legislation. I am assuming that the bulk of the work toward completing congregational mission strategies will be carried out in collaboration with the Directors for Evangelical Mission in each synod, whom we hope we also will be at the Youth Gathering, along with the bishop from every synod. (Please make sure your bishop has been invited and encourage your Director for Evangelical Mission to participate as well.) 

I gratefully acknowledge the Holy Spirit when I observe how beautifully timed the work of the (Youth) Gathering Coaches is with this missional movement that is generating so much energy in our church right now. This is an opportunity for us to position and equip youth to play a critical role in shaping the mission of their congregation and their synod. That is one reason why we chose to keep synods together at the 2012 Gathering. Youth need to be at the synod mission tables and at the table when mission is defined in congregations, but first they need to know these conversations are taking place.

The Practice Discipleship Planning Team is making available, through Synod Coaches, training sessions for adults to learn youth ministry best practices so that when young people are invited to the conversation they speak from the context of faith informed by Holy Scripture, prayer, worship and service. My hope is that when youth are made aware of these conversations, they will insist on being part of them as baptized members of the body of Christ. What they learn and practice inNew Orleans will inform their contribution to the mission of the ELCA in the world for the sake of Christ.