Below are FAQs 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 a Higher Things retreat?
Higher Things runs lock-ins and retreats throughout the year across two countries. These retreats are one-two day events hosted at a congregation with other local congregations attending.
How is a HT Retreat similar to a HT conference?
Nothing can replace being at a HT conference, but a HT retreat is a good starting point. By attending a HT retreat youth will learn from some of the teachers that teach at our conferences, and participate in some of the services that take place as well.
Where can I find out if there are Higher Things Retreats around me?
higherthings.org/retreats will give you a listing of the currently scheduled retreats. The list is constantly updating so check back frequently!
What if I want my congregation to host a HT retreat?
Email us at email@example.com for more information on hosting a HT retreat!
Higher Things Magazine
What is the Higher Things Magazine?
Higher Things Magazine is the official magazine of Higher Things containing articles on various topics, both theological and topical.
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.
How often is Higher Things magazine published?
Higher Things magazine is published quarterly.
How can I subscribe to Higher Things magazine?
May I gift a subscription?
What is Higher Things Magazine Plus (+)?
Higher Things Magazine Plus 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 would like to purchase some back issues of Higher Things Magazine. May I do so?
Unfortunately, we have a very limited number of overrun copies of our magazine. However, if you purchase a “Higher Things Magazine Plus” subscription you will be able to access every issue of our magazine digitally.
I would like to make copies of an article for distribution. Can I do so?
You are welcome to make copies of articles for distribution within your congregation or to share with a friend!
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.
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.
What is Higher Hymnody?
Since 2017, Higher Things has released yearly collections of audio recordings of hymns.
When it comes to morning prayer and devotions, Luther advises us in the Catechism, “Go joyfully to your work, singing a hymn, like that of the Ten Commandments, or whatever your devotion may suggest.” When we worship, we sing. That’s how it is in your church, and that’s how it is at a Higher Things Conference, too. But, as Luther teaches us, that’s not just a church thing or a conference thing. It’s an everyday sort of thing! Through our YouTube channel and our hymn albums, you can rejoice in the gift of song wherever you are.
Where can I listen to these hymn albums?
Higher Hymnody albums are available on all major streaming outlets including Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Mp3 and Google Play Music. You can also download the mp3s directly from Amazon, CD Baby, and iTunes. For our first two albums, Here We Stand and Glory Be to Jesus, you are able to purchase CD’s directly from CD Baby.
How many hymns are on each cd?
Here We Stand and Glory Be to Jesus have ten and eleven tracks respectively.
Where were the hymns recorded?
All hymns were recorded on location at Higher Things Conferences throughout the existence of Higher Things.
What are the themes of the cds?
Here We Stand focuses on celebrating the 500th anniversary of the reformation with hymns by Luther and other Lutheran reformers, Pastors, and Poets.
Glory Be to Jesus contains the hymns of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter. These gyms sing of Jesus’ death and resurrection, praising Him for it and delivering into each other’s ears the Gospel message that He Died and rose for you!
Higher Things Library
What is Higher Things Library?
Higher Things Library is a collection of books published directly by Higher Things.
What titles have been published thus far?
How are these books available?
These books are available in both print and Kindle editions.
Where can these titles be purchased?
Both titles can be purchased through Amazon. Print copies are also available at Higher Things Conferences.
Higher Things Live
What is Higher Things Live?
Higher Things Live is a collection of weekly videos shared through our Social Media accounts as well as video series on specific topics or settings.
What are the Higher Things Live titles?
Where can I find HT Live videos?
Who do I contact if I have an idea for a video series or if I want to create one?
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries on topic creation and ideas!
What are Higher Things podcasts?
Higher Things podcasts are a collection of weekly released podcasts as well as previous titles.
What are the current Higher Things podcasts?
What are the former Higher Things podcasts?
Where can I find these podcasts?
If I want to create a podcast, or have an idea for a podcast who do I contact?
Contact email@example.com for inquiries on podcast creation and ideas!
What can I do to help support Higher Things?
We greatly appreciate your prayers and support. We ask that you keep us in your prayers and if you can donate to help us achieve our mission to assist parents, pastors, and congregations in cultivating a distinctly Lutheran identity among their youth and young adults.
What are some of the projects that my donations might help?
Your donation could send a youth to a conference, help a congregation pay a retreat deposit, push a media project toward completion, or maybe even purchase toner for a printer!
Can I choose where I want my donation to go?
You certainly can! We ask that you mark on the donation what area you would like it directed. We also have drives throughout the year for specific projects such as conference scholarships.
What organizational promotions does Higher Things participate in?
What are some other ways to financially support Higher Things?
Memorial and honorarium gifts remember someone special with a memorial or honorarium to Higher Things. This is a thoughtful way to show your love and concern on special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, promotions or graduations or to honor the memory of a deceased friend or relative. Please complete the Donation by Mail Form and indicate to whom you would like us to send a personal acknowledgement letter informing them of your thoughtful gift. Letters are sent on the day we receive the gift; the amount of your gift is never mentioned. Thank you in advance for expressing your feelings via Higher Things memorial and honorarium program.
- Matching Gifts Many employers provide matching funds for their employee’s charitable donations. Please provide an employee matching gift form with your donation, and increase your support for Higher Things.
- Congregational Giving Higher Things continues to grow based on support from congregations. Please consider giving to Higher Things through a congregational mission budget or offering. What better way to support Missions than to support the youth in your congregation and other confessional Lutheran churches.
- Planned Gifts Leave a legacy by naming Higher Things in your will, estate plan, or life income agreement, such as a charitable remainder trust or life insurance policy. Planned gifts are a wonderful way for Higher Things to continue to promote and cultivate a Lutheran identity among youth for years to come to. Should you remember Higher Things in your estate, will, or life insurance policy, the correct name of the organization is Higher Things, Inc.
What is a Higher Things Magazine Plus (+) account?
How do I get a Higher Things Magazine Plus (+) account?
Sign up here.
I have a Higher Things Magazine Plus (+) account, but I forgot my password. What do I do?
- Follow this link: Sign in to your account
- On the login window, after “Forgot your password?” Click “Reset It.”
- Enter your email and click “Send me reset instructions.”
I have a Higher Things Magazine Plus (+) Account, but I don't remember my username. How can I find it?
Your username is your email address. You can reset a lost password using your email address and using the following steps.
- Follow this link: Sign in to your account
- On the login window, after “Forgot your password?” Click “Reset It.”
- Enter your email and click “Send me reset instructions.”
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.