Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler.

Let the Good Times Roll. As I count the days before attending the 2024 ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans with our confirmation youth — Amelia, Henry, and Kirby — I am excited and hopeful. 

As I look back on my own faith formation, experiences such as the Gathering resonate strongly and deeply. My little Lutheran church in Hudson, Colorado, collaborated with dozens of other congregations up and down the Front Range — from Fort Collins to Greeley to Longmont and Boulder — in monthly shared youth group gatherings. The highlight was a weekend Winter trip to Wild Basin Lodge on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park. Even more impactful were summer trips to Lutheran Valley Retreat, a church camp North of Colorado Springs. I was a youth camper three years, and a junior counselor before my junior and senior years of high school. 

These experiences opened me to a call to attend Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, one of the 26 colleges and universities of the ELCA. Bethany led to active involvement as a youth group leader and musician at Saint Andrews Lutheran Church in Colombia, MO, while I attended grad school at Mizzou, and later on when I came back to Columbia in the mid-90s. It was at Saint Andrews that I worked through the sense of call that led us to Luther Seminary and ordained ministry.

I’m not saying that our trip to New Orleans will eventually lead to Kirby, Henry, or Amelia eventually enter seminary (though that would be really cool if it did). But I do think that experiences such as these, when combined with the love and support of family and congregation, can contribute to a life-long active relationship with the church and all the good things it offers. More importantly, these experiences can open one to a deeper, more committed relationship to God in Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Recently, The Confirmation Project, a recent joint study of confirmation trends and practices conducted in partnership with the ELCA, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, the Episcopal Church, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, reveal five things that contribute most to youth staying engaged in an active and ongoing relationship with a faith community: 

• Faith in the Home – far and away the strongest factor
• Youth Program/Youth Group attendance
• Vacation Bible School attendance
• Sunday worship attendance
• Camp attendance

Of those five, the ELCA Youth Gathering brings together the experience of youth group , vacation bible school, and camp in a unique and very intensive way. Note also, that the other two factors include Sunday worship attendance and Faith in the Home (far and away the strongest factor). Both of those are also ways which our local congregation can help with ongoing faith formation. 

So as we look forward to our youth adventure New Orleans, I’d invite you to think about ways we as a congregation can continue to support faith in the home and regular Sunday worship — not only for our youth, but for us all… and anyone who might find faith and life at Cross Lutheran Church a blessing and a joy.

Let the good times roll,

Pastor Scott

For more information about The Confirmation Project, visit