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students at the Augsburg Youth Theology Institute

What is AYTI?

The Augsburg Youth Theology Institute (AYTI) is an annual summer program for high school students (9th-12th grades) focused on theological reflection and vocational discernment connected to an annual theme. It is a collaborative effort sponsored by Augsburg University’s Christensen Center for Vocation and supported by Lilly Endowment, Inc. This experience aims to offer young leaders an opportunity for place-based vocational discernment around a theological and leadership focused theme. Students who attend AYTI take their questions and curiosity to the public square to learn, listen, pray, and play on the Augsburg campus, in the neighborhood, and in the city. Participants engage in daily reflection with a theologian, community based learning, small group relationship building, and worship. This commitment to wonder about how God is calling us to the common good for the sake of the world, is the reason why high school students leave AYTI inspired to be God’s hands and feet in the world.

Reconciling in Christ logo
Reconciling in Christ logo


In 2009, Augsburg was named a Reconciling in Christ (RIC) institution by Reconciling Works: Lutherans for Full Participation, meaning the University is welcoming and affirming of all people in regard to their gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation. AYTI is committed to living and teaching these faithful values at the Institute in our instruction, small group relationship building, and worship. You can read more about RIC and LGBTQIA+ services here.



Participants come from congregations all over the United States. When we are able to gather in-person, participants stay in the residence halls, eat meals on campus, explore the Twin Cities area, and experience community. When we gather virtually, we focus our screen time on relationship building, connection through worship and devotions, academic study, and theological exploration.

  • Participate in 6 days of engaging academic and theological study and community based learning
  • Complete pre-reading(s) related to the institute theme assigned by the instructors
  • Spend time in small groups building relationships led by a college mentor
  • Participants will choose a project and work on it in their congregation after leaving AYTI
  • Following the completion of the project, participants will write an essay and submit it for publication


Are you wondering how God is calling you to serve your neighbor?

Do you have questions about God?

Do you have an open heart and open mind?

AYTI is for YOU!


We know that young people need adults in their lives who name their gifts, pray for them, support them in their theological curiosities, and help them connect what they are learning to how God is calling them to be in the world. your leadership is so important in the lives of young people. As a nominator for AYTI, you will:

  • Name the gifts of young people and nominate them for participation at AYTI
  • Support your participant as they prepare to attend the institute
  • Attend and participate in daily devotions with other nominators and parents during AYTI
  • Share the gifts and accomplishments of your participant with your own congregation and community
  • Attend the celebration event on the last day of AYTI to support your participant
  • After AYTI, work with your participant on their project and essay for publication
  • Pray for your participant
  • Future – commit to nominating at least one participant every year


Augsburg University undergraduate students are eligible to apply for the student leadership position of AYTI Mentor. These student leaders are committed to supporting young people in this faith journey as they participate in the summer institute. AYTI Mentors receive extensive training in preparation for their work with AYTI participants.

  • Mentors are college student leaders
  • Mentors support AYTI participants
  • Mentors lead small groups
  • Mentors design and lead devotions
  • Mentors provide relational support for participants
  • Mentors help with academic, theological study, community based learning, and daily worship


When do I apply? AYTI is a once a year summer event. Applications become available in the spring, for the summer institute.

Who can apply? High school students who have completed 9th-12th grade with a curiosity about theological exploration.

How do I apply? Fill out and turn in the application and essay questions on the form linked to the website. APPLY HERE!

Who can be a nominator? These people are typically pastors, youth directors, community leaders, or mentors who have identified gifts in young people and who are committed to supporting and praying for young people on this journey. NOMINATION FORM HERE!

What are the application and nomination forms like? Both forms require the completion of short answer questions. You may want to work on the questions in a separate document and then copy and paste answers into the live form when you are ready. Please note that these forms cannot be saved and submitted later, so please plan to finish your application or nomination in one sitting. You may review the AYTI nomination and application short answer questions here.

How much does it cost? $130 per participant for a virtual event (Reduced cost for the virtual institute due to COVID-19) or $350 per participant for an in-person, on-campus event.

What is included in the cost? For an in-person, on-campus event the cost includes registration fees, housing, meals, supplies, transportation during the event, and overall institute support. The cost of travel to and from the event is the responsibility of the participant. For a virtual event, the cost includes registration fees and supplies and overall institute support.

Who pays the registration fee? We ask that congregations consider supporting participants by paying their registration fee. Participants should talk directly to their nominator about cost.

Is the theme and instructor the same every year? No they are not! Check out past institutes here. Each year we seek to create an applicable theme that young people are interested in. Instructors come from all over the United States to create a deeply meaningful experience for participants.

Who can I contact with questions? Please contact with questions about the institute.


AYTI is only one of the many initiatives supported by the work of the Christensen Center for Vocation. The Christensen Center for Vocation equips and accompanies students, staff, faculty, and ministry leaders as they engage in place-based vocational discernment in the public square for the common good. These learning partnerships happen through a variety of initiatives that foster learning experiences and creative collaborations.


Learn more about the Christensen Center for Vocation

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