Lutheran Youth Organization
The Lutheran Youth Organization (LYO) is an organization of all high-school aged young people who are members of congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. There are nearly 100,000 ELCA youth across the United States and the Caribbean. The LYO is one place where the voices of young people are lifted up in the church. This takes place through a variety of ways in which young people get together to discuss the issues that are important to them concerning youth ministry, the larger ELCA community, and the world.
The Lutheran Youth Organization was created in 1987 by youth delegates sent on behalf of the three Lutheran church bodies that merged to create the ELCA also in the same year. They were visionary with their ideas for how young people are to be engaged in the church as leaders today, not just as the leaders of tomorrow, taking 1 Timothy 4:12 seriously: “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity…” (NRSV). In addition, the LYO has always held diversity as a very high value, intentionally including in its leadership young people of color or whose primary language is other than English and differently-abled young people.
While the LYO in one part of the country may look very different than the LYO in another part of the country, the core elements that hold true across the board are spiritual formation and leadership development. Whether it’s young people gathering in a region to embody the theology of servant leadership and learning, young people advocating for fuller inclusion in the larger church, or young people sharing in a Bible study and modeling discipleship to one another, the ministry of the LYO is taking place! This ministry is about providing a context through which young people can share in the oneness of Christ by proclaiming through word, deed, prayer, worship, Bible study, fellowship, and service the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord.