What is Lutheran Youth Corps?
Lutheran Youth Corps participants are Lutherans aged 18-26 who have been selected to serve in communities where their talents and services are greatly needed. Youth Corps participants are trained to live and serve in community, spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through acts of mercy. Participants experience full-time work in local organizations and LCMS congregations to gain valuable experience while helping provide care to underserved communities.
Do I get paid for my service with Lutheran Youth Corps?
Yes. Participants receive a modest living stipend that covers food, travel and basic personal needs. The stipend amount is dependent on the placement location. The stipend is not elaborate; however, it should be adequate to cover basic needs during the time of service while learning to live simply. Housing is provided. Participants share the cost of food, transportation and fun with each other.
Can I have another part-time job while I serve?
Because the focus of Youth Corps is on service and community, we do not allow participants to have another part-time job while serving. We encourage participants to become more connected to their service organization or congregation if they are not being challenged enough. Participants are encouraged to live on their stipend alone rather than supplementing with additional funds.
Can I bring my computer, Xbox, iPod, iPad, own bed, lawn furniture, etc.?
The housing provided is fully furnished. Participants need only to bring along personal items. Though participants are permitted to bring the items listed above, we encourage you to consider this choice carefully. Will these possessions burden your experience or prevent others in your community from knowing you for who you are? You will by no means be experiencing poverty, but you will be living in solidarity with the people of your community. Because we are there at the community’s request and to benefit them, we encourage participants to embrace a simple and sustainable lifestyle.
Where will I live?
Lutheran Youth Corps participants live together in a house with a shared living area and bathrooms with separate space for guys and girls’ bedrooms. Participants will most likely share a bedroom. Housing is set up very specifically to help foster a supportive, faith-filled community and help everyone to embrace simple living. Participants will work together to purchase groceries and items for the house as well as arrange transportation.
How long are the assignments, and are they full-time?
Lutheran Youth Corps service is a 10-month (August–June) commitment. Participants receive two placements lasting the 10-month duration. The primary placement is for 30 hours a week at a service organization. The second placement is for 10 hours a week at an LCMS congregation or campus ministry. Participants will work full-time (40 hours total), but scheduling will depend on placements.
Will I receive vacation time?
Volunteers adhere to the vacation policies of the organizations they serve and are granted a minimum of two weeks of vacation per year. Youth Corps also has time for retreats or workshop days; this is not counted within the two weeks of vacation.
Is there an age requirement?
Yes. Participants must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent as of August 1 of the year of service. Lutheran Youth Corps participants may not be older than 26 by the completion of their service.
Can I join if I am not a U.S. Citizen?
No. Participants must be a U.S. Citizen, national, or legal permanent resident alien of the U.S. to serve with Lutheran Youth Corps.
Do I have to be an LCMS Lutheran?
Yes. We deeply appreciate the willingness of all young people who desire to serve. However, funds were raised for the support of this program with the expressed interest of helping LCMS young people serve in such capacities. Participants must be a confirmed and active LCMS member.
What skills do I need to have?
All Lutheran Youth Corps members need to be self-motivated, mature, servant-hearted, and stable. Participants should possess a desire to grow in the areas of faith formation, mercy work, community outreach and simple, sustainable living. Flexibility, openness, a sense of humor and good physical health are also helpful in such service opportunities.
Youth Corps will use whatever gifts God has given participants to serve in amazing ways. If a participant has a special skill or passion, please indicate that during the application process. Specific skills (language, music, etc.) might open up additional opportunities to serve at the host site or other service organizations.
How and when do volunteers apply?
Lutheran Youth Corps applications for the upcoming (2016-2017) service year can be found online in the coming weeks. Applications must be submitted by March 1, 2016. Selected applicants will be contacted via email to schedule an interview with LCMS Office of National Mission staff, and they will be notified of acceptance no later than May 1, 2016.
As part of the application process, applicants must submit three letters of reference:
1. From a/the pastor of your LCMS congregation — Applicants may submit a letter written by a pastor who is also related, however, the selection committee prefers, if possible, the letter be written by a non-related pastor. (If your congregation is vacant, the vacancy pastor, or another non-related pastor may submit your letter.)
2. From another staff member or lay leader from your congregation, preferably someone who knows you through a ministry or service function (director of Christian education, deaconess, teacher, volunteer youth leader, elder, etc.)
3. From either a work supervisor or an education supervisor (e.g., teacher, academic advisor, principal, etc.)
If I participate in Lutheran Youth Corps, will I have a hard time getting into college or finding a job afterwards?
Every situation is unique. Lutheran Youth Corps cannot guarantee participants will receive college acceptance or job placement at the end of you service. However, research shows that participating in programs like Lutheran Youth Corps can be beneficial in both those areas. The Princeton Review says, “Admissions counselors at professional schools tell us that taking time off for school is rarely a disadvantage for an applicant. In fact, they often choose the student who took a year off and is ready to become fully engaged in school over the one who has been on autopilot and will burn out in a few months.” Other research says students who finish a year of service are often more grounded and achieve more academically after their year of service. Putting a program like Lutheran Youth Corps on a resume demonstrates to future employers a commitment to community, excellent work ethic, a willingness to work cooperatively and the energy to explore new opportunities.
What should I think about before applying?
Reflect and discern your motivation for wanting to join Lutheran Youth Corps. Youth Corps might be right for you if your central motivation is to live out your faith by serving others around you. Consider how living alongside those on the margins of society might open you to new growth and challenges that will have a lasting effect on the rest of your life. Youth Corps will provide you with what you need while encouraging living simply and sustainably, so reflect on your ability to live in community with shared resources. This kind of service work can be mentally and emotionally challenging. Please consider your own coping skills and ability to use available resources and support to manage challenging experiences. Discuss your decision with people you trust, including your parents, pastors and other church workers. Ask them to pray with you and help you discern if Lutheran Youth Corps is right for you.
Lutheran Youth Corps is not for everyone. If you are merely looking for something to do or want to postpone finding a job, you might want to consider other opportunities. Full-time service is an immersive, demanding experience. If you tell yourself you can shorten your commitment when things get too difficult, you may never be prepared for the experiences that God will provide for you about who God is and what He is doing in these communities.