The Lutheran Youth Organization is a leadership development program for youth in grades 9-12 who are members of congregations in the Delaware-Maryland and Metro D.C. Synods. Following an application process, youth who are accepted into the LYO are organized into one of six teams to live into their God-given gifts and sharpen their skills for service in our synod, their own congregation, and the surrounding community. Each team is mentored by two to three gifted adults.
The LYO year begins with the Organizing Retreat, held at Mar-Lu-Ridge toward the end of August. During this long weekend, members of the LYO receive training on a variety of topics that will serve them throughout the year, including active listening, peer ministry, leading devotions, and topics related to our annual theme. They also engage in service projects, play games, and worship together. The weekend provides them their first opportunity to gather with their whole team and imagine ways they might use their gifts to serve the young people of our synods. Before the end of the retreat, each team selects a Leader Among Leaders or two - peers who will help keep the team organized and working toward their goals, as well as serve as the liaison to the Youth Events Team, which has responsibility for general oversight of our events.
Every other month (September, November, January, March, and May), the LYO gathers for an All-Team Meeting on a Saturday, often meeting at centrally-located churches where our students are members. These meetings provide an opportunity for training on a particular leadership topic, frequently suggested by the Leaders Among Leaders, a chance for teams to meet together in person, and fellowship time to continue strengthening relationships within the LYO. Usually, teams will meet together in person or by Zoom in the months when an All-Team Meeting is not taking place.
One of the primary ways our LYO members put their leadership development into action is through the planning and execution of several large events throughout the year, including:
FreeRide, a weekend event for youth in grades 6-8 in November
RoadTrip, a weekend event for youth in grades 9-12 in January
Transformers, a weekend leadership retreat for youth in grades 6-8 in the spring
Seekers, a one-night retreat for children in grades 3-5 in the spring
High School Leadership Event, a weekend retreat for youth who have completed grades 8-12 in the summer
Each LYO member also selects a Congregational Mentor who serves in an area that relates to the youth’s team. This adult leader helps the LYO member reflect on what they are learning in LYO and how they can use those skills to lead in the congregation. The Congregational Mentor serves as an advocate for their student, and finds ways to lift up their work within the life of the congregation.
There is no membership fee to be a part of the LYO. The only costs are for events, which our Youth + Family Ministry budget partially subsidizes for LYO members. In the 2021-2022 year, these registration fees for LYO members totaled just under $500. One additional cost to consider is transportation to and from meetings and events, though students are often able to carpool with those who live nearby. Money should never be a reason you cannot participate in LYO. We have event scholarships available specifically for LYO members, and we will provide whatever support we can if finances become an issue.