Below are questions we have received regarding Higher Things®, our history, our conferences, our retreats, our magazine and our web site. We hope that these are useful to you in answering any questions you might have about Higher Things®.
What is the purpose of Higher Things®?
The mission of Higher Things® is to assist parents, congregations, and pastors in cultivating a distinctively Lutheran identity among their youth and young adults.
What makes Higher Things® unique among Lutheran youth ministry organizations?
Higher Things® is unique because its primary goal is to deliver the Gospel to Lutheran young people without either “dumbing down” our doctrine and theology or relying heavily on entertainment to keep their attention. Higher Things® doesn’t seek to create a “wow” factor. Our goal is simply to deliver Christ and Him crucified to young people, emphasizing the Theology of the Cross as opposed to a Theology of Glory. Higher Things® believes sincerely that Lutheran youth actually want to be Lutheran. Therefore, we are intentionally catechetical in nature and unashamedly committed to centering our activities around Christ Jesus as He comes to us in His Word and Sacrament.
Is Higher Things® affiliated with The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod?
Higher Things® is a Recognized Service Organization of the Synod. All those in leadership positions with Higher Things® are members or pastors in good standing in The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. All speakers at our annual Higher Things® conferences are LCMS pastors or laity in good standing of LCMS congregations. We use the hymnals of the LCMS for our worship.
So what exactly is Higher Things®?
Higher Things® is a lot of things, all of which seek to keep young people focused on Christ and His gifts as they grow and mature in their faith. It is parents seeking to teach their youth the Catechism. It is youth workers and volunteers seeking to reinforce that which is preached from their congregation’s pulpits and confessed in their pews. It is pastors wanting to keep their Lutheran sheep Lutheran as they grow up.
As the first LCMS President, Dr. C.F.W. Walther said, “The preacher should care in a heartfelt way for the confirmed youth in his congregation; be serious about this group of Christ’s sheep, who stand in special danger; and keep a watchful eye on them.”
What do you mean by, "Dare to be Lutheran®"?
In a post-modern feel-good age that dismisses truth claims, we at Higher Things® are unapologetically Lutheran. We are proud to be Lutheran and all that means and we want to encourage other Lutherans to cultivate and rediscover their roots and also seek to embrace their own confession and heritage. Simply put, we believe that authenticity counts! We are Lutheran. We are proud to be Lutherans. We want future generations of Lutherans to actually “be” Lutheran. The phrase “Dare to be Lutheran®” simply reminds us of that fact, and we hope, encourages other Lutherans to seek to do so too.
How did Higher Things® get its start and for what purpose was it founded?
The impetus for Higher Things® began with the desire of several LCMS pastors to put on a quality Lutheran youth conference that would truly “Dare to be Lutheran®.” In early September 1999, plans were unveiled for the Dying to Live National Lutheran Youth Conference in Laramie, WY, which was held in July 2000 and was sponsored by the Wyoming District of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.
The conference theme was based on the outline of Rev. Harold Senkbeil’s popular catechetical book, Dying to Live: The Power of Forgiveness. Over 700 registrants from 25 different states were in attendance at what was, for all intents and purposes, the first Higher Things® conference. Based on the interest and success of that first conference in Laramie, plans developed for what would become Higher Things®. The rest is, as they say, history.
How did Higher Things® get its name?
The name for Higher Things® was chosen before the first conference in Laramie. Higher Things® was formerly the name of the campus ministry newsletter at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church and Campus Center in Laramie WY, and was based on the new organization’s theme verse, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2, NKJV)
How long has Higher Things® officially been around?
Higher Things® officially incorporated in 2001. That same year the first issue of the magazine Higher Things®: Dare to be Lutheran® was released. Higher Things® has been growing and expanding ever since.
What happens at a Higher Things® conference?
Three distinctive things: Worship, work, and play. Higher Things® conferences have a very strong emphasis on worship – normally holding three services each day from the daily prayer offices (Matins, Vespers, Evening Prayer, Compline, etc.). A lot of time at conferences is also devoted to solid Biblical teaching in both plenary and sectional sessions on topics of catechetical interest to youth by speakers skilled at connecting with them. And there is always healthy mix of fun for teens too. Each locale provides different opportunities for youth to engage in a variety of fun and recreational activities together and during free time.
Where has Higher Things® held conferences in the past?
Dying to Live – 2000 – Laramie, WY*
Making Waves – 2002 – Duluth, MN
In His Face – 2003 – Arlington, TX
City of God – 2004 – Seattle, WA
Dare to be Lutheran® – 2005 – St. Louis, MO
The Feast – 2006 – Colorado Springs, CO
For You – 2007 – Minneapolis, MN & Asheville, NC
Amen – 2008 – Scranton, PA; St. Louis, MO; Irvine, CA
Sola – 2009 – San Antonio, TX & Grand Rapids, MI
Given – 2010 – Logan, UT & Nashville, TN
Coram Deo – 2011 – Las Vegas, NV; Bloomington, IL; Atlanta, GA
Twelve – 2012 – Winston-Salem, NC; Maryville, MO; Irvine, CA; St. Catherines, ON
From Above – 2013 – Scranton, PA; West Lafayette, IN; Tacoma, WA
Crucified – 2014 – Gainsville, FL; Mequon, WI; Logan, UT
Te Deum – 2015 – Las Vegas, NV; Seward, NE; Grand Rapids, MI
Bread of Life – 2016 – Nashville, TN; Cedar Falls, IA; Fort Collins, CO
Here I Stand – 2017 – San Antonio, TX; Mars Hill, NC; Bozeman, MT; Valparaiso, IN
Sanctified – 2018 – Northfield, MN; Carbondale, IL; Lawrence, KS; Tacoma, WA
Concordia – 2019 – Seward, NE; St. Paul, MN; Chicago, IL; Mequon, WI; Irvine, CA
* This first event was officially sponsored by the Wyoming District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod before Higher Things® was fully incorporated.
Why are Higher Things® conferences limited to 1000-1200 people? Couldn't they be larger?
Yes, they could be larger. What limits the size of Higher Things® Conferences are the requirements for the sites that we use. Chapel space is the first consideration in a Higher Things® site because worship is integral to our conferences. In order for a site to house a Higher Things® Conference it must generally also have two distinct spaces large enough to fit all the conference attendees at one time. One space is used for plenary time and the other is used for worship. We also seek out sites that have the ability to house and feed all the conference attendees, and have ample opportunities for free-time activities (pool, sports, game room, etc.) This is a lot to ask of one site, but we’ve found that college campuses and retreat centers usually fit our needs best.
What are the age requirements for participation in a Higher Things® event?
Higher Things® Conferences are specifically designed for high school youth, but registration is open to any youth who will have been confirmed by the conference date. Exceptions to this rule may be granted by specific requests made in writing to the appropriate conference coordinator.
What youth to adult ratio is required at Higher Things® conferences?
Higher Things® makes no such requirement. We recommend a ratio of one adult per seven youth participants. We likewise encourage congregations to have one adult male leader and one adult female leader (unless your group is only boys or only girls).
Why doesn't Higher Things® invite prominent non-Lutherans to speak at conferences?
It is essential to Higher Things® that we use teachers who will be faithful to the Gospel and to the teachings of the Lutheran Church. This high standard is difficult to maintain when using teachers who do not share in our confession of faith. Moreover, why would we want to bring in non-Lutheran speakers when we have so many faithful and engaging Lutheran speakers who can connect with young people available already? We believe that those best at teaching youth to “Dare to be Lutheran®” will actually be Lutherans themselves.
Why does Higher Things® insist on liturgical worship at its conferences and retreats?
Higher Things® doesn’t insist on certain types of liturgical worship as much as we cherish the liturgy that the Church has received. We believe that the continuity of the liturgy best delivers the Gospel of Jesus, and provides truly Christocentric worship both at home and at our Conferences. Higher Things® believes that worship away from home should make one feel like they are still at home. And for the majority of Lutheran congregations this means a traditional liturgy from one of our hymnals. Thus, Higher Things® only uses liturgy and hymnody that can be found in the treasury of our Lutheran hymnals.
Why doesn't Higher Things® employ "contemporary music" and praise bands in their worship?
At Higher Things®, we believe that the liturgy and hymnody of the Lutheran church best captures worship which is Christocentric, and therefore transcends time and place. That makes it truly contemporary. Utilizing the approved hymnals and liturgical resources of the church also means that the submission of our materials for doctrinal review is unnecessary and gives congregations and pastors confidence in that which is being used to feed their youth.
Why would parents and pastors want their youth to attend a Higher Things® event?
At Higher Things® events, your youth will meet other Lutherans, worship like Lutherans, be taught by Lutherans, and Dare to be Lutheran®.
Is Higher Things® trying to compete with, or provide an alternative to the National LCMS Youth Gathering?
Absolutely not. Higher Things® simply provides annual conferences and retreats. The synodical National Youth Gathering is a once-every-three-years large venue event. We do not doubt that some may view Higher Things® conferences as an alternative to the National LCMS Youth Gathering. However, Higher Things® certainly does not promote itself in such a way. Besides, we are simply just too busy just trying to provide great opportunities for youth to Dare to be Lutheran®.
Would you say that Higher Things® holds regional conferences?
Higher Things® conferences are national youth conferences that are held around the country to provide regional accessibility. Groups from all over the country attend conferences, and sometimes people from outside of the country come too! Conference locations change each year, providing groups with diverse opportunities to experience a location’s unique regional flavor. Youth can attend a Higher Things® conference in their area of the country or travel to one further away.
What does Higher Things® offer to provide continuity and follow-up between annual conferences?
Conferences are truly the flagship of Higher Things®. However, Higher Things® provides all sorts of great things for youth in between, and leading up to, conferences. Those mediums include our quarterly magazine, weekend regional retreats, daily devotional Reflections, and our world-class interactive website. The bottom line is that there is always something going on at Higher Things®.
What is HT-Online?
HT-Online is the online edition of the Higher Things® Magazine. It provides you with immediate access to the current issue of the magazine, as well as all of the past issues.
I want to order a subscription to the Higher Things® Magazine online. Is it secure?
Yes! Higher Things® uses PayPal’s Braintree to handle all of its direct credit card processing, and PayPal maintains the highest standards of security for online purchasing. Additionally, the Higher Things® Website uses Secure Socket Layers (SSL) to encrypt and protect its pages as you enter data and send it to us for processing. Please be aware, some web browsers may send you a notification that there may be a problem with our SSL Certificate. The notification may even claim that our website is not secure, but this is not true. SSL Certificates are very expensive, and Higher Things® does not own its own. To keep costs to you lower, we use an SSL Certificate that belongs to our web host. Consequently, when you come to the Higher Things® Website, your browser may check the domain of the certificate against the domain of Higher Things® Website. It will then notice that the domain for the certificate is nozonenet.com which does not match higherthings.org. That is the only reason this error may pop up, and we assure you that our online credit card processing is absolutely 100% secure.
What makes Higher Things® different from any other youth magazine?
You can find a lot of magazines out there that are geared for youth, and you can find a lot of publications that address different matters from a foundation of confessional, sacramental Lutheran theology. Higher Things® magazine is one-of-a-kind because it’s a magazine that puts the two together, treating all sorts of relevant topics for youth from a Lutheran, Law/Gospel foundation.
Do only pastors write for Higher Things® magazine?
No. Pastors and laypeople both write for Higher Things®.
May I write for Higher Things® magazine?
Higher Things® is always looking for more writers and articles. A list of possible themes is available here, as is a set of writer’s guidelines.
How often is Higher Things® magazine published?
Higher Things® magazine is published quarterly.
I would like to advertise in Higher Things® magazine. Where can I find out more information?
Information for advertisers is located here.
I'm looking for an internship at a magazine. Can I be an intern for Higher Things®?
Higher Things® magazine doesn’t have a central office, but is composed by editors and writers spread throughout the United States. Because of its geographical dispersion and the likelihood that the publication would not fulfill your university’s requirements for an internship, the magazine does not offer internships.
How can I subscribe to Higher Things® magazine?
Each magazine contains a subscription form, or you can subscribe online. Or call our subscriptions manager at .
What is a Higher Things® account?
A Higher Things® account is a way of receiving premium services through the Higher Things® website. Currently, it offers you the ability to subscribe to HT-Online, the online edition of the Higher Things® Magazine, and to register for Higher Things Conferences online.
How do I get a Higher Things® account?
Sign up here.
I have a Higher Things® account, but I forgot my password. What do I do?
You can reset a lost password by going here.
I have a Higher Things® Account, but I don't remember my username. How can I find it?
You can find our your username by going here.
I am having other problems with my Higher Things® account, what do I do?
If you are experiencing problems with your Higher Things® account that do not involve a lost username or lost password, please contact the Higher Things® Webmaster through our Contact page.
When do the Higher Things® daily Reflections booklets get released?
Higher Things® tries to release the PDF booklets for printing two weeks prior to that booklet’s first Reflection. However, please keep in mind that the Higher Things® Reflections are produced completely by volunteers, and sometimes our volunteers’ time is constrained by other things. In such case the Reflections may not always be released as early as we would like, and for this we apologize. It is our intention to post these booklets with ample time for churches to print and distribute them before the season begins, as we realize that they are very useful for many of you in that way. Please also keep in mind that in the event of a delay we are working as quickly as possible to get them to you, and will have them up as soon as we possibly can.
I did not get today's Reflection in my e-mail box. What happened?
The daily Reflections are typically sent out the night before by our automated system. Sometimes this will be delayed due to a variety of technical reasons. Typically we catch delays when they happen and then deal with them immediately. If you notice a problem and do not receive the day’s reflection before we are able to take care of it, please feel free to contact our webmaster through our Contact page to let us know so that we can get them out right away.
Are Reflections really FREE?
Yes! They are free, just like the Gospel. Higher Things® daily Reflections are written, edited and published by the generous efforts of volunteers involved with Higher Things® Media. While the Reflections are volunteer-based, they are the most popular resource offered by Higher Things®, and yes, Higher Things® does appreciate donations and notes of support for this very important part of our web site. See Support page for more information.
I want to help out Higher Things®, how can I do it?
That’s great! Higher Things® exists largely on the basis of volunteer work and we’d love to have your assistance. Our Support page has information on how you can get involved with Higher Things® and help this organization grow. Please also consider a tax-deductible donation to Higher Things® from you personally or from your congregation.
I have a question about Higher Things®, but I don't see it answered here, who do I contact for an answer?
Please use our Contact page and your question will forwarded to person best able to answer your question.