Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents:

General

Why Higher Things conferences?

The mission of Higher Things is to assist parents, pastors, and congregations in cultivating, encouraging, and promoting a distinctively Lutheran identity among their youth and young adults. The most direct way we do this is through our annual youth conferences. Since the year 2000, Higher Things has held a total of 28 Lutheran youth conferences! 2015 will add three more conferences to that list. We hold multiple conferences each year, in different areas of the country. While the conferences are essentially the same in schedule, programming, and worship, each has its own unique "personality" and dynamics.

We do all this because we are convinced that youth need solid teaching and experiences that will nurture lasting Christian faith. Rather than treating youth as an adolescent subculture and confusing them with once-in-a-lifetime "mountaintop" experiences that cannot be replicated outside the conference events, Higher Things believes in challenging youth to learn the pure doctrine of the Christian faith. By teaching them the same message that they are already hearing at home and at church, youth grow in the fullness of the Christian faith as they come to appreciate historic liturgical practice and its unique focus on God's gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation for us delivered in Word and Sacrament.

What does the 2015 conference theme mean?

Te Deum, Te Deum Laudamus, "We Praise You, O God." All praise, all glory, all honor, all everything goes to you, O Lord, for You sent Your Son who died on the cross for us. He rose again. He saves. He is the sacrifice that makes us - and our praise - acceptable to You.

In the Te Deum, we confess all that God the Father did for us in the sending of His Son. And by faith, we join our voices with those apostles, prophets, martyrs, and of the whole Church of all times and places, in praise and worship of the Holy Trinity...giving us a glimpse right into the divine Throne Room of heaven itself!

This summer's 2015 Higher Things Conferences will rejoice in the gift of the Te Deum, a hymn of praise that gives us a foretaste of what's happening in worship in heaven and on earth.

"The band of the apostles in glory sing Your praise;
The fellowship of prophets their deathless voices raise.
The martyrs of Your kingdom, a great and noble throng,
Sing with the holy Church throughout all the world this song:
'Oh all majestic Father, Your true and only Son,
And Holy Spirit, Comforter-forever Three in One!'"
(LSB 941)

What should I expect at a Higher Things conference?

You should expect to spend four days immersed in the Gospel. You'll hear about Jesus, and what He's done for you. A lot. You'll do this by participating in the many worship services in which we join our voices with those of the historic Christian church through liturgy and hymns, and hear the Gospel preached in its purity.

You'll learn, in much greater depth, about our faith, not just what we believe, but why we believe it and why it's important. All this will equip you to talk about your faith to others. And you'll do plenty of that as you get to know hundreds of other Lutheran youth just like you throughout the worship and catechesis sessions, especially during the free time activities each evening. Higher Things conferences are held every summer, so you'll really have an opportunity to build life-long friendships, as you worship, learn, and have fun together If you're able to attend year after year!

What age restrictions are there?

Higher Things is very flexible on who may attend the conferences. Our conferences are generally planned for high- school-aged youth, but we recommend that registrants be confirmed before the date of the conference. The !10 recommendation that youth be confirmed before attending the conference is not to set strict age limits, but because the catechesis at the conferences presumes that the audience has a basic familiarity with Lutheran doctrine and practice, which most people receive in confirmation instruction.

We recognize that ages for confirmation may vary from congregation to congregation and simply ask that, if a group is bringing youth who are not yet in high school, the group's chaperones be prepared to provide the additional supervision that younger youth require. College-age young adults and other adults are also welcome to attend on their own or with a group.

May I bring a friend?

Of course! Non-LCMS youth and adults may register for a conference with the approval of your group's Pastor and Group Leader. Spouses, personal assistants, and other adults cannot be accommodated as unregistered conference participants. Talk to your pastor and Group Leader about how your friend can join with your group!

What if I have special needs?

Higher Things has teamed up with the LCMS Task Force on Disabilities and will make our best efforts to make our 2015 inclusive events, developing support for those with disabilities as needed. Additional fees may need to be assessed for equipment rental, interpretive staff, golf cart rental, etc.

Registration

When does registration open?

Registration opens on November 1, 2014 and closes as conference locations reach capacity. As long as there is room, registration will remain open. However, the cost of registering increases as we get closer to the conference dates.

Can I register online?

Actually, that's the only way you can register for a Higher Things conference! All you need is an HT Account. If you don't have an HT Account yet, you can sign up for one at www.higherthings.org. See Registration Instructions for more details.

What does registration cost?

We work very diligently to keep costs as low as possible while providing the best conferences we can, each and every summer! Please note the registration windows have been simplified this year:

Early Bird!
Nov. 1, 2014 to
Jan. 31, 2015
Regular
Feb. 1, 2015 to
April 31, 2015
Late
on or after
May 1, 2015
University of Nevada
- Las Vegas
(July 14-17, 2015)
$345$375$400
Calvin College
(July 21-24, 2015)
$345$375 $400
Concordia University - Nebraska
(July 28-31, 2015)
$345$375$400

Non-refundable deposits of $100 per person may be made at any point during Registration to ensure your group's admission to a conference should it reach capacity. However, the per-person rates above are based on the date your group's registration fees are PAID IN FULL. Checks received by mail will be processed according to the postmark date, not the date it is received.

Partial payments (including non-refundable deposits) do not "lock-in" your registration rates. An additional change fee of $25/change will apply for substitutions made after May 1, 2015 (See Registration Policies for details.). Unpaid balances and new registrations on or after May 1, 2015 will be charged an additional late fee of $25/person. All payments must be made in U.S. funds.

What does the Registration Fee include?

Your Registration Fee covers:

  • Conference Programming
    • Planning and preparations
    • Catechesis (4 plenary sessions, 6 breakout sessions)
    • Worship (2 Divine Services, 11 prayer offices)
    • Entertainment activities
  • Three (3) nights of on-campus housing, including linens
  • Nine (9) meals (Tuesday Dinner; through Friday Lunch)
  • Printed conference handbook
  • Printed Daily Services Booklet
  • Conference T-Shirt

How many chaperones are allowed per youth?

Higher Things requires that each group must provide at least one (1) male adult for every seven (7) male youth and/or at least one (1) female adult for every seven (7) female youth in the group. Chaperones must be at least 21 years old at the time of registration and approved by the group's pastor for their role. All chaperones, and any other adults attending the conference, must also complete the registration process.

What if I can't find enough chaperones for my church?

If you are unable to recruit the necessary number of chaperones for your group to attend a conference, Higher Things will be happy to help you find other groups from your area who might be willing to share their chaperones with you. Please contact the Conference Registrar (registrar@higherthings.org) for assistance.

My church doesn't sponsor youth to go to HT conference. Can we still attend?

Of course! Because you will be coming from one congregation, that'll be your Group name, even if your group is a single youth with a parent.

When should we plan to arrive and depart?

The opening Divine Service starts at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday of the conference week (Registration Check-In will run from 9:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.) and the closing Divine Service ends about 3:00 p.m. on Friday. Please try to schedule your travel so your group doesn't miss the opening or closing Divine Services!

Groups may also stay on campus for one extra night before and/or after the conference for an additional fee of $50 per person, per night (additional meals not included). Check-in on the day before the conference will be between 5:00 and 10:00 p.m., and those staying an extra day after the conference should plan to check out by 11:00 a.m. on Saturday. Additional fees will be incurred by groups arriving/departing outside of those hours.

What is the capacity of each conference?

The Higher Things conference at the the University of Nevada-Las Vegas has a capacity of 500 registrants. The conference at Calvin College has a capacity of 900, and the conference at Concordia University-Nebraska has a capacity of 700 registrants.

Transportation

How do we get to the conference?

Groups are responsible for obtaining their own transportation to and from the conference sites. If traveling by airplane or train, groups will also need to make arrangements for ground transportation from the airport or train depot to the campus, as well as for your group's private use during the week if you want to go sight-seeing on your own.

How much walking is involved?

A lot. Seriously. A lot. We try our best to keep all conference activities as close together on the sites as possible. But because of the nature of college campuses, you will get your exercise! If someone attending with your group will be unable to walk long distances or will need assistance getting around at the conference, please note this as a special need with their Registration. We will be happy to accommodate anyone with special needs, but need your help to plan in advance and additional fees may be assessed.

How do I get to area attractions?

Any off-site transportation for scheduled conference activities will be provided by Higher Things and is included in your Registration Fee. If groups choose to take their own vehicles to scheduled off-site activities, they will be responsible for any additional charges to do so (parking, tolls, etc.). Groups are responsible for arranging their own transportation for any sight-seeing not included as part of the Conference.

Is parking available on campus?

On-site parking is limited at all sites. Detailed information regarding parking (including fees and requesting parking passes, if applicable) will be provided to Group Leaders upon Registration.

Housing

What kind of housing can we expect?

Since Higher Things conferences are held at college campuses, all registrants will be staying in residence halls. Sometimes this means a suite of two (2) double-capacity rooms with a shared bathroom between the rooms. Or some residence halls will have common (single-sex) lavatories with private toilet and shower stalls. We will notify you in advance of the conference of which type of residence hall you will be assigned so you can prepare your group accordingly.

How many people will be assigned per room?

Groups should plan for two (2) occupants per room. You may request roommates from within your own group. Private rooms are available by request for an additional fee of $35 per room, per night ($105 total for 3 nights). If your group does not fully occupy the available rooms or suites, roommates and/or suite-mates (of the same sex and age group) may be assigned from another group.

Will groups be housed together?

Sort of. Wherever possible, male and female rooms will be separated by floor, wing, or building. We will do our best to assign group members' rooms near one another. Adults will not be housed in the same room as a youth unless there is a direct familial relationship AND both adult and youth are of the same sex. Please see the Higher Things Housing Policy for details about housing assignments.

Can spouses be housed together?

Unfortunately, no. We assign rooms with male and female rooms appropriately separated by floor, wing, or building. Chaperones must be housed with the youth of their groups.

Are linens provided?

Yes, pillows, bed linens (including blankets), and towels will be provided for each registrant. However, most campuses do not provide mattress pads or fitted sheets. Registrants may bring additional linens on their own.

Do we have to stay on campus?

No, but Higher Things cannot reimburse or discount your Registration Fee if you choose to stay off- campus. Besides, staying in dorms allows youth to get a glimpse of college life and allows youth to get to know other youth at the conference and form lasting friendships.

Can we stay on campus for an extra night before and/or after the conference?

Yes! You may spend an additional night on campus - in the same room(s) you'll use for the rest of the week - for just $50/night. Since many groups use this option to do area sightseeing, meals are not provided. Groups must notify the registrar that they will need an extra night no later than May 1. Those arriving early may check in on campus between 5:00-10:00 p.m. on Monday and must check out by 11:00 a.m. on Saturday.

Worship

How many services can we attend each day?

At least 3, usually 4. It sounds daunting, but each year most youth report that worship is the best part of the Conference week and that they miss it once they return home. Every day, youth and adults start their day with the service of Matins or Morning Prayer, followed by Vespers in the mid-afternoon, and end the day together with Evening Prayer. Time for Individual Confession and Absolution is also offered following Evening Prayer most nights, and small groups are encouraged to gather for Compline just before lights-out.

Thirteen services in four days? Why so many?

At Higher Things, our mission is to cultivate, encourage, and promote a Lutheran identity among youth. At conferences, this happens intensively, through catechesis and frequent (though brief) worship services. Most services only last about 30 minutes, but they form a rhythm of each day that reinforces and puts into practice what is being learned in plenary and breakout sessions. We will open and close with the Divine Service and the Lord's Supper.

I've never heard of most of those services! Are they even Lutheran?

Yes! And they're all taken from the Lutheran Service Book which most of you use in your own churches. It is a long-standing tradition in the Christian Church to conduct brief prayer services throughout the day. These services provide a great way to keep our days focused on Christ and His gifts for us.

At Higher Things conferences, we want to teach youth about the richness of our confession and introduce them to some of the ways Lutherans have historically practiced their faith. Information will be provided following the close of Registration to help youth leaders teach their groups about these services and the traditions that are often practiced (chanting, kneeling, crossing oneself, incense, etc.) so that youth are prepared to encounter them at the conference.

Is there a conference hymn again this year?

The conference hymn for the 2015 Crucified conferences is "We Praise You and Acknowledge You, O God" (LSB #941). Please make use of this hymn in your congregations in the weeks and months leading up to the conference. It's a wonderful hymn that we're sure everyone will enjoy singing together!

How are the preachers chosen for the conference worship services?

There are very limited spots available for preaching, but more available for assisting in the services. Priority is given to the pastors attending the conference who volunteer in Higher Things' leadership. Other preachers and assistants are selected from LCMS pastors registered to attend the conferences. If you would like to be considered to preach or assist, please contact the Conference Executive (conferences@higherthings.org).

Music

Can I sing in the choir?

YES! Participating in the conference choir is one of the best ways for youth (and adults) from all over the country to get to know each other. Everyone is welcome to sing in the choir, regardless of experience! Choir usually rehearses Wednesday-Friday of the conference week at 8:00 a.m., before the morning service and possibly at other times during the week as well. Rehearsal times will be included in the week's schedule.

However, due to copyright restrictions, we must implement a new policy that those interested in singing the choir will need to register in advance to do so by June 1. Photocopies of music will not be available for the choir, and members may purchase their own music for $5/person, which may be taken home following the conference. If you do not choose to purchase music, you may look on and share with someone else.

May I play my instrument at the conference?

Because it is so difficult to accommodate and select music pieces for the wide variety of instruments people volunteer to play at the conference, instrumentalists will be selected by the Worship and Music staff from those registered for each site. If you'd like to volunteer to play during the conference, notify your Group Leader to indicate that on your conference registration and contact the Conference Executive (conferences@higherthings.org).

Again, due to copyright restrictions, the same policy regarding the purchase of music as detailed above will apply to instrumentalists as well.

Catechesis

Who will be the Plenary Teachers?

We will begin at the University of Las Vegas in Las Vegas, NV from July 14-17, 2015 with Rev. David Kind (University Lutheran Chapel in Minneapolis, MN) and Rev. Donavon Riley (St. John's Lutheran Church in Webster, MN) as plenary speakers. The following week, July 21-24, 2015, we will be at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI with Rev. George Borghardt (Zion Ev. Lutheran Church in McHenry, IL; President of Higher Things) and Rev. Mark Buetow (Bethel Lutheran Church in Du Quoin, IL; Deputy/Media Executive). The final 2015 conference will be from July 28-31 at Concordia University - Nebraska in Seward, NE with Rev. William Cwirla (Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Hacienda Heights, CA) and Rev. Bruce Keseman (Our Savior Lutheran Church in Freeburg, IL) as plenary speakers.

When can we get a list of sectionals?

Not until around June 2015. Sectionals are taught by pastors and other adults attending the conference with their youth groups so we won't even begin to plan those until March 15, 2015.

Do we need to sign up for sectionals in advance?

No. Catechesis seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. While we try to make sure everyone will have chairs, it's impossible to predict how many people will attend any one sectional. Sectional seating is first- come, first-seated.

Are we expected to attend a certain number of sessions?

Yes. You may attend at least one sectional during each breakaway session! Sectional topics and teachers are chosen with youth in mind, and they cover a wide variety of topics to help you learn more about your faith. You should have no problem finding at least one sectional that interests you in each session.

How are breakout teachers chosen?

First, you must be registered to attend the conference. We believe that the best people to teach youth are the very pastors and other adults the Lord has put in their lives to do just that. Breakaway teachers are chosen from the LCMS pastors and lay members of LCMS congregations in good standing who are already registered for that conference. All teachers must also be comfortable communicating with youth, and they should try to prepare their sessions in such a way that will help teenagers faithfully live out the vocations unique to their stations in life.

Free Time/Entertainment

How much free time will there be?

We are planning for a few hours of scheduled entertainment and/or free time each evening of the conference. However, if your group wants to do some more extensive sight-seeing around the conference cities, you should probably plan for an extra day in town to do that. For your convenience, groups can reserve an extra night (Monday and/or Friday) in their rooms on campus at the time of registration for $50/person/night.

What will we be doing for fun?

We're working on planning some really great activities that we'll be able to tell you about very soon! In the meantime, Google the locations to see if you can guess what some of the options might be! You can also check out photos of past conferences to see what's been done before.

College Conference Volunteers

What are College Conference Volunteers (CCVs)?

College Conference Volunteers play an integral role on the conference staff. They are college-aged young adults who volunteer to help manage the conferences on the ground. They work hard and play even harder. They are often seasoned Higher Things conference-goers, but some newbies get their first Higher Things conference experience as a CCV. Application to be a CCV is a very competitive process, we often receive 2-3 times more applicants than needed.

What kinds of things do CCVs do?

Registration: Directing groups through the registration check-in area, helping to prepare and distribute materials, directing people to dorms and parking areas, break-down of the information table after the end of the conference, etc.

Speaker Care: CCVs are assigned to a sectional speaker to hand out materials and evaluations in the sectionals, make sure speakers have any needed food and/or beverages, run AV, etc.

Worship: Help setup and breakdown the conference Chapel, crowd control, assist with altar guild duties.

Merchandise: Help set-up and break-down as needed.

General: Help supervise activities, give directions, run errands, answer questions, put up signs, etc.

Photography: Take pictures of everything you can and everyone having a great time.

Media: Assist our Media staff with audio/video recording.

How much is my registration if I am selected as a CCV?

CCV registration is FREE! The offerings collected during the opening and closing Divine Services go directly to offset the expenses for the CCV program. You'll just need to get yourself to the conference and back home again.

Do I have to arrive early and/or stay late?

Yes, CCVs must arrive by noon on Monday of the conference week for orientation/set-up, and should not plan to leave before 5:00 p.m. on the last day to help pack up after the conference.

Will I have special privileges as a volunteer?

Yes, CCVs will have staff (i.e., "backstage") access to all areas of the conference and a special conference staff T-shirt. In fact, you will receive multiple staff T-shirts, because CCVs need to be easily identifiable throughout the week!

How old do I have to be to be a CCV?

You must be at least 18 years old and have completed your high school studies at the time of the conference.

How do I apply to be a CCV?

You will be able to apply online at Te Deum2015.org between November 1, 2014 and February 28, 2015. Applicants will be notified by March 15, 2015 if they have been selected to serve as a CCV.

Should I still register with my church's group?

If your church is sending a group to the conference, you should register with your group as well as complete the CCV application so that you are certain to get into the conference, should it fill. If you are selected as a CCV, your registration will then be processed separately from your group. You will also be assigned housing in a separate staff area.

Those who are accepted as CCVs who are not registered with a group for a conference should register as an individual and pay any corresponding registration fees. If selected, Higher Things will reimburse that person for the balance paid as of March 15, 2015.

How many CCVs will be accepted at each of the conferences?

The number of student volunteers is determined by the number of registrants attending each conference. The Conference Executive reserves the right to adjust these numbers if we determine that fewer or more CCVs are actually needed to help with the conference.

Other Conference Support

I'm not a student but I'd like to volunteer, what can I do?

We never complain that we have too many volunteers! If you live near the conference site, we can always use help transporting staff and CCVs to the conference site. We may need people to just run errands on or off site or you can just help prepare check-in materials too. Unfortunately, we are not able to waive or reduce fees for volunteers who are not on the regular conference staff.

How else can I support the conferences?

We have a number of specific conference expenses that may be supported by one or multiple donors:
- Scholarships. CCV registrations are paid as a conference expense so that college students don't have to pay registration fees. These young adults work very hard at the conferences and provide invaluable help for us all.

Funds received in the offerings during the conference Divine Services will go toward this expense as well.

- Printing Costs. Higher Things prints conference handbooks and daily services booklets for each registrant; each set costs about $8.00/person.

- Conference T-shirts. These shirts are a great way for kids to take home a souvenir of their week, and provide unique opportunities for them to confess their faith and what they learned when they wear them at home! Contact exhibitors@higherthings.org for more information about sponsorship opportunities.

- Regular gifts to Higher Things. All of the yearly operations of the larger organization are supported by conference revenues. Donations to Higher Things will reduce the need to rely on conference income and can result in a reduction in registration fees.

Online Registration Troubleshooting

I don't remember my username/password! What do I do?

If you have an HT Account and can't remember your username, you can request that it be emailed to you using the form at: www.higherthings.org/account.html?forgot=username.

I'm having problems registering, help!

If you need help registering, please call 1-888-482-6630 or email the Higher Things Conference Registrar at registrar@higherthings.org. A member of our registration staff will reply to you as soon as possible.

I'd prefer not to pay my balance online. Where do I send my check?

Please pay close attention to the registration mailing address! Please remember that the amount due for your group's registration will be based on the date your check is postmarked and your entire balance is paid. Please send one check for your entire group payable to "Higher Things - 2015 Conferences." All payments must be made in U.S. funds.

Higher Things Registration
P.O. Box 155
Holt, MO 64048