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2024 youth theme: What being a disciple of Christ means to Young Women and Young Men general presidents

Church leaders elaborate on ‘I am a disciple of Christ’ from 3rd Nephi 5:13 and their hopes for youth in the coming year

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus Christ?

For Young Women General President Emily Belle Freeman, it’s comparable to having the courage to perform on a stage in front of others.

“Being a disciple, and becoming a disciple, means this is not a year where you sit in the audience,” she said. “This is a year where you rise up and you accept a call from the Lord to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and to witness of Him and His words to everyone that you know.”

For Young Men General President Steven J. Lund, being a disciple of Christ means knowing the Savior and your life’s purpose.

President Russell M. Nelson has said and continues to say ... that in times like these, we are not going to be able to rely on other people’s lights, that we are going to need to get that understanding of who the Savior is and why we are here, and why it matters that He was here, deep inside of us to find the courage, the direction and the confidence to step forward as His followers,” he said.

Photo of the Young Women general presidency and Young Men general presidency
The Young Women general presidency, effective Aug. 1, 2023. from left to right, are Sister Tamara W. Runia, first counselor; President Emily Belle Freeman; and Sister Andrea Muñoz Spannaus, second counselor. The Young Men general presidency as of April 1, 2023; from left to right, Brother Brad R. Wilcox, first counselor; President Steven J. Lund; and Brother Michael T. Nelson, second counselor. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The two Church leaders were offering their thoughts on the 2024 youth theme — “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ” — as found the Book of Mormon’s 3 Nephi 5:13. The phrase is also found in the Young Women theme and the Aaronic Priesthood quorum theme

“We hope that through these themes — reciting the themes, memorizing the themes — having them be part of their front-of-mind life experience will help them to deepen their relationship,” President Lund said. “Heavenly Father is blessing them constantly, and these themes, we hope, will help them to become more aware of those blessings as they rain down upon them.”

2024 youth theme video and logo

This year’s logo is a flame being held in a hand. Embers move upward from the flame. This represents what it means to be a disciple and share the light of Christ with others — and also to stand strong and not let the outside world dim that light or that testimony.

A dark poster with an image of a hand holding a flame and the words of the 2024 youth theme, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ” (3 Nephi 5:13).
The 2024 youth theme is “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ” (3 Nephi 5:13). | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Lund said: “We don’t really create light as disciples of the Savior. But we do reflect His, and the whole world can see it. It’s stunning to look back and see how the examples of a few people have influenced so many of us. And then our influence can go on and influence others.”

President Freeman talked about a city high on a hill across the way from where the Savior gave the Sermon on the Mount, in which He said, “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid” (Matthew 5:14).

Looking up at night, people can see the lights of that city — which a tour guide in Israel told her was not only known as a city of spiritual strength, it’s also known as the city that watches for the Messiah to come.

“That hand holding that light up; maybe we are that light, and the light that we hold up is Him. It’s Jesus Christ, and it’s the hope that He will come again and it’s the hope for that spirituality that will fill our souls as we turn to Him.”

Songs, artwork and other materials have been created to help youth and their leaders to incorporate the theme in their activities, church meetings and personal lives.

The corresponding theme song was released with the theme on Oct. 27 and is available at youth.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. The music video was released Dec. 31, on the Church’s Strive to Be Instagram account and YouTube channel. The album will be released soon. 

A line in the theme song says, “I will shine so the whole world can see.” President Freeman said the video is powerful because it starts with one boy playing the guitar on some steps and ends with a group of youth gathered at night releasing floating lanterns. 

“What if [for] all of our youth all over the entire world, that became our call to action this year is, ‘I will shine so the whole world can see’ — it is just such a beautiful image. And I love that last little bit of that theme video as you think about those lights going out all over the world.”

Identifying the 2024 youth theme 

Like the 2024 youth theme, the Young Women theme and the Aaronic Priesthood quorum theme each also contain the phrase “disciple of Jesus Christ”:

  • “As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to become like Him” (Young Women theme).
  • “I will prepare to become a diligent missionary, loyal husband and loving father by being a true disciple of Jesus Christ” (Aaronic Priesthood quorum theme).

President Lund said much of the conversation of the day right now is about identity. And the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency have already put in place these statements or themes that they have asked the youth to memorize, internalize and understand in those youth themes — that they are sons and daughters of God with a divine nature and a work to do, and that they are disciples of Jesus Christ.

Four teenagers sit together outside while holding Children and Youth program booklets.
Youth visit together about their goals for the Children and Youth program. The 2024 youth theme has been announced to be used at home, church, camps, youth conferences, devotionals and FSY. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“So having our young people know who they are, as they’re standing in this sort of whirlwind of doctrine that goes around them and of ideas and philosophies of men, to be grounded with that kind of knowledge is a very powerful thing,” President Lund said. “And then once you become a disciple, once you’ve come to internalize that and come to represent Him, then you start living your life quite differently than you would otherwise.”

President Freeman said youth are in the Young Men and Young Women programs for six years, and she has thought a lot about what the youth will become at the end of those six years.. 

“I love the thought that they would become a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ at the end of this program. That’s something we’re working toward defining and talking about what does that look like? And how can we help them actually become something in the years that they are with us?” she said.

Brainstorming process for identifying the theme

Each year’s theme comes from the book of scriptures that will be studied that year for “Come, Follow Me.”

President Freeman said the brainstorming process for the theme begins with both the Young Men and Young Women general presidencies coming together prayerfully with a list of favorite scriptures.

“And we sit around, and everybody talks about that verse and what they love about that verse. And then we’ll move to a different verse and a different verse,” she said.

The verses eventually move up onto a whiteboard. The Young Men and Young Women advisory council members come through and mark the verses as well — not just the verses that resonate with them, but the messages that they believe the youth need to be empowered and equipped in their lives.

It is a counseling process, President Lund added, not an election or a vote. 

Youth from Chile participate in a For the Strength of Youth (FSY) session.
Youth from Chile participate in a For the Strength of Youth session. | Credit: Deseret News Archives

Church employees such as music writers, graphic designers and creators sit and brainstorm with the presidencies about how the theme could come to life. This is done prayerfully as well.

“We are looking at the scriptures through all those lenses — what will this look like, on the lips of young people standing in chapels reciting them? What will it look like when it’s portrayed in music? And how would these various ones come across differently visually?” he said.

All of this leads toward a recommendation going to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency, with the President of the Church deciding what the theme will be. 

“It just is such a beautiful thing to watch,” President Freeman said. “All of those pieces come together.”

Progression of youth themes 

President Lund said while the annual themes are not necessarily created in sequence, they fall into place. 

For example, youth memorized “Trust in the Lord” in 2022. Then with that trust, the youth added, “I can do all things through Christ” in 2023. Now in 2024, youth will say, “I am a disciple of Jesus Christ.”

“It’s a powerful thing,” President Lund said. “Now that I’ve discovered who He is, why I’m here and how He will help me, I need to go out and share it with others.”

President Lund pointed out that 3 Nephi 5:13 begins with the word “behold.” Some may skip past that word, but it jumps out to President Lund every time he sees it. “It means this really matters what I’m about to say.”

He explained that Mormon is saying, “Behold, this matters. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, the very Son of God. [These are] powerful words that ought to just reverberate through our souls.”

Incorporating the 2024 theme in activities, camping, etc.

Parents and youth leaders are encouraged to teach principles from the theme at home and at church throughout the year. The theme can be used as a topic for sacrament meeting talks given by youth and can provide focus for youth activities, including camps, youth conferences and devotionals. The theme will be emphasized during For the Strength of Youth conferences worldwide.

As Latter-day Saints in local wards and stakes plan activities and camps for 2024, they are encouraged to consider the 2024 youth theme and the individual needs of people as they seek revelation in their preparations.

“By focusing the minds of the young people ... different answers will emerge everywhere that will specifically speak to the souls of their audiences,” President Lund said.

The Church leaders look forward to seeing how members bring this theme to life, but the primary purpose is to gather and draw closer to the Savior.

“There is a reason for gathering together as disciples of Jesus Christ, as disciples in training,” President Freeman said. “And the reason is so that we will come to know Jesus Christ. That is what we hope happens at every weeknight activity, in every seminary class, at every FSY, girls camp, and when the boys go off into the mountains.”

A group of young men go backpacking in the mountains.
A group of young men go backpacking in the mountains. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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