Frequently Asked Questions

General Gathering FAQ

What is the LCMS Youth Gathering?

Held every 3 years since 1980, the LCMS Youth Gathering (Gathering) provides thousands of youth and adults the opportunity to come together as a community of God’s people to learn more about Jesus Christ, the Christian faith and their Lutheran identity. 

During the 5 days of the Gathering, youth spend time together in God’s Word, worship, service and fellowship with others from across the synod. This event is organized by LCMS Youth Ministry in Saint Louis, MO. 

When and Where is the 2022 LCMS Youth Gathering?

The next LCMS Youth Gathering will be July 9-13, 2022 in Houston, TX.

Facilities include a connected complex of the George R. Brown Convention Center, Hilton Americas Downtown, and the Marriott Marquis. Discovery Green, an urban park, is located between the 3 buildings.

What is the Theme for the 2022 LCMS Youth Gathering?

The theme for the 2022 LCMS Youth Gathering is “In All Things” and is centered around Colossians 1:15-20. To learn more about the theme refer to the Theological Foundation and Talking Points documents.

When Does Gathering Registration Open?

We plan to open registration at the same time as past LCMS Youth Gatherings. Registration will open with opportunities to enter data (tentatively September 2021) and then an officially open registration in November 2021.

What is the Gathering Registration Cost?

The Gathering registration fee is $395 per participant. This fee covers all Gathering program and Office of National Mission Youth Ministry administrative costs and secondary insurance for all participants. Hotel, travel and meal costs are not included in the registration fee.

After March 2, 2022, participants will continue to be admitted to the Gathering on a space available basis for the late registration fee of $450.

Are Recordings of the 2019 Gathering Speakers Available?

Yes! Stadium Event speakers (including Mass Events and Worship) can be watched on the Gathering’s YouTube channel. Many Session speakers were also recorded and can be listened to as podcasts on KFUO Radio or Spotify 

COVID-19 FAQ (Updated September 2021)

What is the LCMS Youth Gathering Response to COVID-19?

As we continue to plan the 2022 Youth Gathering, we are in continual conversations with the City of Houston, government officials and Synod leadership monitoring the developments of COVID-19. We will make decisions with the highest priority for the safety and care of Gathering participants. We know in Jesus all things are held together and we pray for God’s wisdom as we plan and lead through this time of unpredictability and concern.

As we plan for the Gathering in July 2022, we consider at minimum three important contexts:

  • We trust local congregations, families, and individuals to look out for the health of their young people. We know congregational groups will want healthy youth and adults getting on planes, buses, and vehicles to come to the event.  Good practices around recognizing health conditions, COVID-19 testing, and the use of vaccines are all an important part of best practices for group events and travel.  The health of participants is our primary concern, and healthy participants will make for a healthier event.
  • We have amazing partners in the City of Houston. They are keeping planners updated on facility safety precautions, local health data, and safety precautions.  The staff of hotels, restaurants, the George R. Brown Convention Center, and Minute Maid Park are taking precautions to create a safe location for events and conferences.  We will continue to monitor the health safety of other events in Houston.      
  • We are continually watching the results of best health practices at large conferences, concerts, and sporting events. By God’s grace, we see positive progress in the use of vaccines, natural immunity to COVID-19, and health practices.  We are aware hotels, convention centers, airlines, and other entities and events are currently requiring a proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test.    

 As you are aware, COVID-19 has brought many uneven changes to our lives together.  We wish we had every answer for our event in July 2022.  We know things can change on a weekly, if not daily basis.  We continue to pray for ongoing improvement in the COVID-19 response and for the health of our young people, adult leaders, LCMS members and our nation.

What COVID-19 Precautions are You Planning on Having in Place for the 2022 LCMS Youth Gathering?

As the situation with the pandemic changes, so do many of the precautions and safeguards used by churches, schools, and events like sports, concerts, and conferences.  We will use federal, state, local, and industry health guidelines to inform our decisions to provide a safe environment around COVID-19. 

The City of Houston and our contracted facilities have made many changes to accommodate people, including: hand sanitizing stations, water stations with bottle fillers, and access to rapid COVID-19 testing.  To learn more about the City of Houston’s response for conferences like the LCMS Youth Gathering, visit www.grbhouston.com/covid-19-health-safety-plan.  As the Gathering nears, we will communicate specifics available to our participants. 

From the Gathering perspective, we are working on distancing plans, on-site medical support, and resources for adult leaders to help them prepare for the event and respond to concerns.

On What Date Will the Gathering Decide Whether the Event Will Take Place?

We are moving forward with confidence that the 2022 Gathering will go on as planned. While the situation may change, we have no set date for making an additional decision to hold or cancel the event.  We are praying boldly we will see you all in Houston in July 2022!  Near important dates (e.g. price increase in March) we will provide updated information on plans.

Will the Gathering Happen No Matter the Circumstances in Houston and Our Nation?

The safety and health of Gathering participants, volunteers, and planners is of utmost importance. We will not host a Gathering if we cannot do so safely. We will continue to monitor the pandemic, the situation in the city of Houston, and feedback from LCMS congregations and make decisions accordingly.

What Do You Mean “Safely”?

We realize individuals or congregations may have different ideas of “safety” during COVID-19, and the precautions to take. At this time, the Gathering cannot provide a specific measure until we are closer to the event itself.  This decision will be based on additional evidence of the safety of large events with participants in relation to COVID-19 and especially in the city of Houston.  This will also take into account health data of Houston citizens and the wellbeing of youth from across our country.

If the Gathering is Cancelled or Postponed, What Happens to Payments Paid by Congregations?

In terms of providing refunds for cancellation, there are factors connected to “who” cancels the event (e.g., local authorities, the “Gathering”, etc.) and to when the decision is made to cancel or postpone. The answer we can currently provide:

  • registration fees (excluding the $150 deposit) not spent or not required to be spent on the cancellation process would be returned.
  • if the Gathering were to reschedule to a future date, we would work to transfer deposits to the next event.

Please also note as other key dates arrive (fees increase, etc.), we will provide updates or reiterate things are moving ahead as planned. 

If Policies Change, or an Individual Youth or Adult is No Longer Comfortable Attending, Will Funds be Refunded?

If the person cancels before June 1, 2022, funds except for the $150 deposit can be refunded based on the Gathering policy. After June 1, funds will not be refunded.

Will a Vaccine be Required to Attend the 2022 LCMS Youth Gathering?

We strongly encourage everyone to talk as a family, with trusted advisors, and with their health care providers about the vaccination and whether this is an option.  At this time, we do not anticipate vaccinations will be required to attend the Gathering. However, in July 2022, hotels, convention centers, airlines, and other entities and events like the Gathering may require a proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test.  (This requirement is currently used by many events and venues.)  To learn more about the vaccine or how to get an appointment, please visit https://www.vaccines.gov/.

Will Masks be Required to Attend the 2022 Gathering?

It is still too early to determine if masks will be required onsite at the Gathering. Final decisions will adhere to CDC and local health department guidelines, as stated above.  To not be found unprepared, assume masks may be required at specific areas of the Gathering experience (travel, etc.). If wearing a mask makes you and your youth feel more comfortable in attending the Gathering, we encourage you to do so. Our primary goal is to be able to safely and effectively continue our event of bringing together youth from across the nation to hear about God and his work “In All Things”.

Gathering Participant FAQ

What is the Age Requirement to be an Adult Leader?

Participants who are 21 years or older by the time of the Gathering are able to attend the Gathering as a Primary Adult Leader (PAL) or Adult Leader. Those who are 19 – 25 years old may also serve as a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV). 

What Are the Age Requirements for Participants?

The LCMS Youth Gathering’s primary focus is for youth participants between the ages of 14 to 19. To register for the 2022 Gathering, youth participants must meet ONE of the two following eligibility requirements:

Must be 14 years old at the time of the Gathering 

OR 

– Entering his or her ninth-grade year at the time of the Gathering. 

While we do allow students from the ages of 14 to 20 to attend, please keep in mind that some of the program content may not be relevant to older youth participants. 

We suggest that students who are 19 and older, one year out of high school, or have been to at least one previous Gathering apply to be a Young Adult Volunteer. 

What is the Recommended Youth-to-Adult Ratio for a Group?

The Youth Gathering promotes a ratio comparing youth to adults in order to provide sufficient space for youth to attend the event. An official ratio for the 2022 Gathering will be released at a later date, and we provide the 2019 ratio as a guideline for planning.  The youth-to-adult ratio  allows congregations flexibility in determining the number of  Adult Leaders they select to attend the Gathering. The Gathering values the involvement of parents, pastors, church workers, and other supportive adults in the faith life of young people and encourages their participation as Adult Leaders at the Gathering. 

Youth-to-Adult Ratio Recommended
# of Youth     # of Adults 

     2-6                    2-4
    7-13                   3-4
   14-20                 4-5
   21-27                  5-6
  28-34                  6-7
  35-41                   7-8
  42-48                  8-9 

Beyond 48 youth participants, it is recommended that groups continue to add one adult for every 5 youth. 

It is strongly recommended that: 

  • All groups have at least two adults and that each Community Group include at least two youth
  • Congregations secure criminal background checks for its Adult Leaders: www.protectmyministry.comwww.aaimea.org  

Congregations with only one youth attending the Gathering can be connected to other LCMS congregations by their District Coordinator (beginning Spring 2021).  For more information about District Coordinators, please contact  youth.ministry@lcms.org. 

Why Should Young Adults (Aged 19-25) Apply as a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV)?

Young Adult Volunteers (YAVs) have the unique opportunity to work behind the scenes and help the Gathering run smoothly. While their primary role is to serve the participants, they are also able to experience some elements of the Gathering along the youth and Adult Leaders. 

LCMS Youth Gatherings are also the largest gathering for young adults in the entire LCMS! While they serve, YAVs will meet hundreds of other Lutheran young adults and form new friendships. A great amount of community is cultivated within this group of young people. 

The LCMS Youth Gathering’s primary focus is for Youth Participants between the ages of 14 to 19. We suggest that students who are 19 and older, one year out of high school, and have been to at least one previous Gathering apply to be a Young Adult Volunteer (YAV). Find more information and how to apply to be a YAV on the Young Adult Volunteer link under the Volunteer tab. 

Why Does the Gathering Mandate that we Stay in their Contracted Hotels?

Much thought and energy goes into selecting appropriate housing for the Gathering participants. Each of the Gathering hotels has been reviewed and selected based on its location, safety, comfort, accessibility, and affordability. If a hotel is on our list, be assured that it’s been purposefully chosen. 

PROGRAM – Attending the LCMS Youth Gathering is a unique experience. Your group, regardless of how large or small, is part of the “whole”. The time your group spends at your hotel is part of the makeup of your overall Gathering experience. Planned activities such as community life activities and Bible studies may take place at specific Gathering hotels. These are vital pieces of the Gathering experience that you don’t want to miss! 

SAFETY – Beyond programming, the safety and security of all Gathering participants is extremely important. By having every registered participant in one of our contracted hotels, you are essentially “findable” by Gathering support volunteers. Over the past 35+ years of Gatherings, this has proven to be invaluable. 

INFORMATION – Community Life Builders (CLB’s) are assigned to each of the Gathering properties. They have been specifically trained to conduct informational meetings there; provide pertinent Gathering information, updates, and schedule changes; and hear any issues or concerns that you may have. CLBs serve as your main informational contact while at the Gathering. If you are outside of our hotel block, you will not have access to this valuable resource. 

COMMUNITY – The fun and fellowship of meeting new friends during your time in Houston takes place at the hotels. If you were to secure your own accommodations at a condo, time share or hotel outside of the Gathering’s room block, you would miss out on this important piece of your overall Gathering experience. 

Can My Group Stay in Our Gathering Hotel Before or After the Event?

Yes. Typically, groups may arrange to stay three days before or after the Gathering (July 9-13, 2022) in their assigned hotel rooms. 

Can I Bring My Family (Babies, Younger Children, Pre-Teens, Additional Adults Like Spouses, Grandparents, etc.) to the Gathering?

While LCMS Youth Ministry understands the importance of family and values family experiences centered around God’s Word and Sacraments, the LCMS Youth Gathering is specifically intended for youth aged 14 – 19 years old. Teenagers are at an important stage of life developmentally, socially and spiritually where values and beliefs are personally sought out and formed. Subject matter taught and discussed at the Gathering is intentionally and carefully created and presented for a teenage audience. We thank you for respecting this guideline and for prayerfully supporting your youth before, during, and after the Gathering. 

LCMS Youth Ministry has provided a recommended youth-to-adult ratio to provide an appropriate number of spots for all youth who wish to attend. The ratio allows for a nurturing environment that respects the youth’s desire for individualism and autonomy.  (See above for information on the Youth-to-Adult ratio.) 

Can Youth Who Are Not Members of the Congregation Attend?

Yes! The Gathering is a great event for youth to invite friends who are not members of their church but are longing to learn more about God’s love for them in Jesus. Be sure to include these friends and their parents in all pre-Gathering meetings and events. These meetings are ideal times to discuss Scripture; support faith development; and introduce congregational pastors, church workers and members.