Episode 106: The Young Men general presidency on how the new ‘For the Strength of the Youth’ guide helps youth choose Christ

This episode of the Church News podcast features the Young Men leaders talking about the new guide, FSY conferences and the 2023 youth theme

During the October 2022 general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced a new “For the Strength of Youth: A Guide for Making Choices.”

This episode of the Church News podcast features the Church’s Young Men general presidency, President Steven J. Lund and his counselors, Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt and Brother Bradley R. Wilcox. The presidency talks about the new guide, Latter-day Saint For the Strength of the Youth conferences, and the Church’s 2023 youth theme, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

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President Steven J. Lund:  The backdrop against which decisions will be made won’t be a booklet, but a mission. President Nelson has said so profoundly, again, and again and again, the most important thing going on in the world today is what? It’s the gathering of Israel. And you are a generation that’s been preserved to come to this time where you have the capacity to be the most influential in this world, because you’re a child of God and God has a work for you to do. That work is the gathering of Israel. So if that is the backdrop we’re looking at, how can I best accomplish that work for which I was preserved to come in this age to perform, the reason of the timing of my existence? So how should I behave? How does the way I dress affect my ability to be a light than the world when that’s the reason I’m here?

Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During the October 2022 General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles announced a new “For the Strength of Youth” guide. This episode of the Church News podcast features the Church’s Young Men general presidency, President Steven J. Lund and his counselors, Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt and Brother Bradley R. Wilcox. The presidency joins us today to talk about the new guide, Latter-day Saint youth, FSY conferences, the Church’s 2023 youth theme and so much more. President Lund, Brother Corbitt, Brother Wilcox, welcome, today, to the Church News podcast.


Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: It’s good to be with you, Sarah.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Thank you, Sarah, truly.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, as we mentioned in the intro, we’re coming off a historic general conference, in which there was so much interest in the “For the Strength of Youth” guide. President Lund, why don’t we start with you and have you tell us everything we should know about that?

Youth of the Herriman Utah Pioneer Stake hold copies of the revised “For the Strength of Youth” guide.
Youth of the Herriman Utah Pioneer Stake hold copies of the revised “For the Strength of Youth” guide. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Wow, that’s a tall order, president.

President Steven J. Lund: Let me take off my shoes. It’s going to take a minute. No, you’re right. This was an historic conference, wasn’t it? It seems they’re always historic, conducted as they are by prophets, seers and regulators, that it was quite fascinating that this conference had a lot to do with our youth and with our changing times. So, the For Strength of Youth guide, almost miraculous, I don’t think that’s too much to say, miraculously, was pulled together in the aftermath of the pandemic, when all the resources in the world were constrained, such that we were able to launch it at general conference with printed copies and translation into 50 languages. All of that just speaks to the importance of what the pamphlet is about. When people first look at it, they can see that there are some major differences. And of course, if there weren’t going to be differences, we wouldn’t have done a new guide, but those differences come around a theme that we should be used to in the Church, by now, and that is that we’re moving to a higher and holier way, where the guidance that we receive from the brethren, from the Church, from each other, is less prescriptive and more spiritually-based. We’re being asked to, you know, not look to somebody else to decide what our standard should be, but recognizing the weight of membership and the weight of holiness that belongs to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will by itself prescribe how we behave and how we are, how we dress and how we comport ourselves.

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Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: We’ve seen this same shift in other things, like ministering, in the way that we are being taught to keep the Sabbath day holy. We’re seeing this same shift in the missionary handbook. And over and over, you can see that President Nelson and the others who lead us are trying to lift us from a law of Moses, preparatory situation, into something that allows us to live a higher law.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: And I think it’s just natural. I mean, President Nelson said, you know, “My dear younger brothers and sisters, you are among the best the Lord has ever sent to this world.” He said, “You have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation.” And this is a natural result of that. In fact, I look at my own family, I don’t know about you, brethren, but I look at my own family, I was raised with a fair amount of force.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Ahmad, you needed those rules.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: OK, Brad, I didn’t need that reminder of the true statement. I raised my children with far less force, far less, much more recognition of their valiance in the premortal world, their ability to make choices and so on. They are raising their children with even less force. And so you see this natural progression of respect and regard for the valiance, ability to choose wisely and make good choices.


President Steven J. Lund: Your question being, “Tell us all we need to know about the booklet.” The answer probably is best contained in Elder Uchtdorf’s general conference talk, where he laid out the principles around which this booklet was written and we would urge everybody to go back and listen to that a few times before they draw too many conclusions about the booklet. It’s sort of fun to note what goes on around us as the booklet contains less “Thou shalt nots” and more consider this as the first impression people might have is, “Oh, the rules have just been relaxed.” And yet, it’s never really been that way, has it? When we speak of a higher and holier way, that calls for us to be more vigilant about making sure that we’re complying to what Heavenly Father would have us do. 

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Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: I loved what Elder Uchtdorf said in conference, when he said, This guide is not permission to do whatever you want. The guide is permission to let God prevail, to choose to draw closer to God. And I think sometimes, you know, when missionaries were first told that they didn’t have to memorize lessons, a lot of missionaries were like, “Yay, that means we don’t have to do anything.” But in reality,

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: He needs to know more.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Yeah, as President Lund was saying, it was a call to do more, more preparation, more efforts to make outlines that would meet real needs, more efforts to sense the Spirit, to follow the Spirit. And I think this guide is calling for young people to not do less, but to gain personal revelation, which was also stressed in conference over and over and over again, and to understand the “whys.” This guide is not announcing that the standards have changed. What it’s doing is helping parents and leaders teach those standards differently. And it’s helping young people realize that they can be guided by these principles, rather than by the rules. Rules are important, but they need to be set in homes, where families can counsel together about what their needs are. Those rules need to be set at a local level, where leaders and youth can counsel together about what’s best. The rules don’t need to be set at a general Church level, to then be fought about. We can push ourselves toward principles that can really make a difference in our lives.


Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: What you’re saying reminds me of a family council, in my family, Jane and I and our children. And I remember this distinctly, this family council about what it means to come in on time. And we didn’t want to put in an hour, a time. We wanted to counsel about it as a family and talk about what would be appropriate and we wanted the children to help govern themselves.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: And why it’s important to come in at all.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Why it’s important, so that they can make these choices. This would have never happened in my home growing up, first of all.

President Steven J. Lund: Yeah, I’m really curious how that turned out.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: It could have been better, to be honest. Fortunately, none of my children are here to say “Yeah, I remember that family council, Dad.” But it turned out well. It turned out well and better. Brad, you reminded me of this quote by Elder Uchtdorf, “Is it wrong to have rules? Of course not. We all need them every day. But it is wrong to focus only on rules instead of focusing on the Savior. You need to know the whys and the hows, and then consider the consequences of your choices.” Close quote. He said, “The best guide you can possibly have for making choices is Jesus Christ.” Remember that?

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Yes, I loved it.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: “Jesus Christ is the strength of youth.” And I thought that was so well-stated. It’s a powerful principle.

Cover of the new “For the Strength of Youth” guide.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Steven J. Lund: Well, I think, I love Brad’s connection here, the analogy to “Preach My Gospel.”

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yeah.


President Steven J. Lund: Because it’s very much like that. We used to memorize missionary lessons. I memorized, they didn’t trust me to be making up stuff, but we would memorize the lessons. But the sense was that that was so constraining. You’re working so hard to remember the words that, you know, somebody else wrote that you didn’t come up with your own. And the new modality was, “This is your mission. You bring your testimony. You bring your ability to receive inspiration in the moment to this thing, and go in and teach the gospel the way that the Lord would teach you to teach the gospel.” Well, that’s really the strategy of this “For Strength of Youth” pamphlet. Teaching got better because the teaching that went on was the result of a direct relationship with the heavens. In this world,

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yeah.

President Steven J. Lund: With the craziness that goes on and the different viewpoints that are coming from disparate and desperate sources, our youth need to be able to hear that still small voice and guide their decisions by that.


Brother Bradley R. Wilcox:  One thing that Elder Uchtdorf said in the leadership meetings, and not in the general session of conference, the words touched me deeply, because he said, “I long for the day when our youth are not defined or recognized by what they can and cannot do, but rather, they’re recognized, because of their love of Jesus Christ.”

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt:  Which is the symbol of their lives, right?

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Yes.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: To, to quote another teaching from the training by President Oaks. And President Eyring said, you guys remember this? He said, tearfully, I remember this, “We trust teenagers to sit and counsel and receive revelation.” He was just speaking our language.

President Steven J. Lund: Yeah, powerful moment, wasn’t it?

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: As, as a presidency and the Young Women [general] presidency. It’s just powerful.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: And we don’t want our youth to be able to say, “Well, I’m a Latter-day Saint. I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and it means I can’t do this, and I can’t do this, and I can’t do this and.…” We don’t want that. We want young people to say, “Because I’m a member of the Church of Jesus Christ, then I know that I love God and I love my neighbor. My body is sacred. I seek light. The truth makes me free.” If we can have young people starting to explain the way they live by sharing principles, rather than, “I can’t do this and I can’t do that,” then I think we’re one step closer to the vision that Elder Uchtdorf has of being defined by our love for and our discipleship of Jesus Christ.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: As you say that, it makes me think that we are initiating the conversation, not reacting to, remember Elder Gary Stevenson’s conference talk?

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: “You’re from Utah. You’re a member of the Church.”

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: “You’re from Utah, you can’t do this. You do that. You do this.” And someone else is framing the conversation. The “For the Strength of Youth” guide helps the youth frame the conversation.


Sarah Jane Weaver: I love that and Elder Uchtdorf actually says in his talk that the Savior has very high standards for all of us who follow Him. And so we’re not lowering the standards, we’re actually raising the bar to the ultimate standard, which is looking to the Savior in all things, right?

President Steven J. Lund: Right, and under the new booklet, the backdrop against which decisions will be made won’t be a booklet, but a mission. President Nelson has said so profoundly, again, and again and again, the most important thing going on in the world today is what? It’s the gathering of Israel and you are a generation that’s been preserved to come to this time where you have the capacity to be the most influential in the history of the world, because you’re a child of God, and God has a work for you to do. That work is the gathering of Israel. So if that is the backdrop we’re looking at, how can I best accomplish that work for which I was preserved to come in this age to perform, the reason of the timing of my existence? So how should I behave? How should I dress myself? How should I look? How does the way I dress affect my ability to be a light in the world when that’s the reason I’m here?

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Beautiful. You know, another thing that I think is significant to mention about the guide, is the way it starts. Not only does it have a powerful expression of confidence from the First Presidency, but the very first section says, “Christ will help you.” I think in past guides, we may have seen repentance mentioned, maybe at the end of the guide, as kind of a follow up, but here we see repentance mentioned right out of the gate. The first thing that people are reading is how Christ will help us, how His grace, His power is available to us, because we are covenant-makers and covenant-keepers. And that message, I mean, right in the guide, it says in the First Presidency’s message, one of the very first things it says is, “There may be times when you don’t feel strong or capable. That’s normal. Especially in those moments, turn to the Savior. He is the ‘strength of youth.’” And that’s such a unique shift from the way that we have approached standards in the past, that I just want every young person to realize that that’s the message. Christ can help you, no matter where you are, in applying these standards in your life, no matter where you are in your journey of discipleship, Christ can help you. He’ll meet you where you are, and He will help you move to these higher levels.


Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Brad, let me italicize and circle and highlight your comment and extend it to parents. Because I’m naturally – perhaps the way I was raised or whatever – I am more – maybe because I’m a lawyer – I’m more rule-based. I’m a little bit more naturally rule-oriented. And so some parents out there will feel like, “Where are the rules? I need to have a conversation with my 15-year-old girl about the height of her skirt, or my 15-year-old boy about whether he’s going to date and it doesn’t say that, specifically.” I would say, to these dear parents, this is an opportunity to teach your children correct principles and help them govern themselves, not just leave them alone, but help them govern themselves, to counsel and to help them feel the Spirit. I witness, we witness, don’t we, that the Holy Ghost will help you in this most important mission. If the most important work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own home, then the Holy Ghost cares about that and will help you to convince, will give you the power of God unto the convincing of kids.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: We’ve had a lot of young people in the Church now graduate into young adulthood and they’re very aware of the rules. They’re very aware of the “thou shalts” and the “thou shalt nots,” but some of them have missed that connection with Christ. And the thing that keeps us going, is not the rules. The thing that keeps us going is that connection with Christ that assures us that we can have the power to strive to live the way Christ lived and strive to become like Him.

Youth form the letters FSY on a field during a For the Strength of Youth conference. | Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

President Steven J. Lund: Brad, let me circle back to this lawyer situation. Can’t let a lawyer comment go and challenge here.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: For everybody’s information, Steve Lund is a lawyer. He’s a consummate businessman, but he went to law school. Don’t try to deny that.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Every time we have a presidency meeting, it’s like the beginning of a joke, “Two lawyers and one teacher walked into a store.”


President Steven J. Lund: Let the record reflect, I’m actually a recovering lawyer. But one of the reasons that lawyers, lawyers and 12-year-olds like to have rules, though, is because they can immediately start picking at the edges of the rules and find ways around them.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yeah.

President Steven J. Lund: And that’s the unhealthy thing about a list of rules isn’t it?

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Right, exceptions and so on.

President Steven J. Lund: But let me point out to something that, you know, very well, Ahmad, that the book does actually teach to the test, that the booklet contains temple recommend questions.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yeah.

President Steven J. Lund: And that’s the actual test. That’s sort of the litmus test of whether it’s working or not. You go through and look at the questions that will be asked when it’s time for you to go to the temple and receive the gifts that are available there, and that’s a pretty good guide. Is this decision I’m about to make going to draw me closer to the temple, understanding the requirements of getting into that place? If so, then it’s a good decision. Or is it going to, maybe, pull me away from being able to answer those questions properly?

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yeah, and they’re right there on page 36 and 37.

President Steven J. Lund: Yeah, and throughout the booklet.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yeah.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: I think it’s beautiful, the way that our Church leaders have chosen to include the Young Men, the Aaronic priesthood quorum theme, the Young Women theme and the 10 commandments. So again, Sarah, it’s not a matter of the standards have changed. No, the commandments are the commandments. What’s changed is that hopefully we can teach those in a way that will be more meaningful and more motivating for youth as they are empowered to make decisions based on their own personal revelation.


Sarah Jane Weaver:  And we all like rules for the very reason that you’ve explained, because they set these guidelines for us, and then it makes it easy for the parent not to have to own responsibility in some of these issues as a mother of, of

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: I was gonna say, you sound like a parent, Sarah.

Sarah Jane Weaver: I have two daughters at BYU and a third who is a senior in high school and I’m gonna take my booklet home tonight. And to our listeners, we all have these new booklets around. One of the things that I want to address is how Elder Uchtdorf started his talk. He says, “My dear friends, if the Savior were here right now, what would He say to you? I believe He would start by expressing His deep love for you.” And I can feel it in your voices. I can feel it as I listen to you talk about the youth. Certainly I know how I feel about my own children and all of their friends. How have you seen manifest the Savior’s love for the youth of the Church?


President Steven J. Lund: Let me tell you a place where I saw that manifest. During general conference, there was that session when there was a youth choir behind us just singing with this clear, remarkable voice they have. We turned around afterwards and just looked at them for a minute and actually got to go up and shake hands with them after the conference.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: That was fun.

President Steven J. Lund: And it just made my bones almost melt, the love I felt for these great young people who are going off into the world against significant headwinds, but committed to doing Heavenly Father’s will.


Sarah Jane Weaver:  You know, so much of President Nelson’s focus has been on the youth. We’ve seen that as he has traveled through his global ministry. We’ve seen it every time he speaks or is around the young people of the Church.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox:  Well, Sarah, the first thing he said in conference, that, his very opening remark was, he was so thrilled about these FSY conferences that have been going on all over the world and these youth conferences that are making such a difference for our young people. That was the first thing he said.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, let’s talk about it. That has been such a hallmark of so many Latter-day Saint young people’s summer experience this year. What are some of the highlights of FSY from the summer?

President Steven J. Lund:  You know, I talked about this in my general conference talk a little bit, this amazing experience we had of seeing this arc of growth that these kids would go through. I was just stunned at how active Heavenly Father’s Spirit is in that environment, that it’s not like, you know, there’s this wave of spirituality that goes over them. It seemed to be an individual conversation going on with these children and young people. One at a time with the heavens were, not at the same moment, but throughout the time there was this, a creative, developing sense of place, and belonging and courage to go and do the right thing. It was just so stunning to me how active Heavenly Father’s Spirit was on an individual basis with those young people.

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Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Whatever was going on, anywhere in the world, FSY was giving young people a chance to gather, to be able to sense that they’re not alone. And some of them coming from schools where they’re the only member or communities where they face nothing but ridicule. And yet they came to a place where they could see others and they could feel connected to other young people, and they realized that they weren’t fighting this battle alone. They saw counselors who became role models to them. And they said, “Gosh, if, if he can be cool, and he can dance cool, and he can be funny, and yet he reads his scriptures, and he loves the Lord and he lives the gospel – that just signaled to them that this is something they could do too. And I think it just created this environment where people realized I do belong. This is my church. It’s not my mom and dad’s church.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yeah, an environment where Heavenly Father could say through the Holy Ghost, “I love you.”

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Yeah

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: So many of the comments back we’re about the love of God, right, right guys?

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Yeah.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf greets an attendee during an appearance at the For the Strength of Youth conference at Seattle University on Thursday, July 21, 2022 in Seattle. | John Lok, for the Deseret News

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: And so many, and the Young Women [general] presidency, and we’re all unified to me. The six of us feel like one giant presidency. But they, in their experience as well, it’s all the same. I think, I don’t mean to be Johnny raincloud, but one of the biggest tragedies in The Book of Mormon is this one in Mosiah 26, which I’ll read quickly, “Now came to pass that there were many of the rising generation,” in verse one, “that could not understand the words of King Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.” And note how basic the things were that they did not believe. “They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ. Now, because of their unbelief, they could not understand the word of God and their hearts were hardened,” naturally, “and they would not be baptized, they would not join the church, they remain to separate people as to their faith.” And the Children and Youth program is the answer to this. The FSY guide, a guide for making choices, is the answer to this. FSY is the answer to this. Mosiah 26:1-4 will not happen in our day, because the Lord has revealed through prophets and apostles, seers and revelators, His answer to this problem, and our rising generation are responding. That’s what I hear President Lund saying and you also said that Education Week at BYU.


President Steven J. Lund: I love that you brought that up, because I’ve always scratched my head about that. They went from a near Zion society, you know, following King Benjamin.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yeah, they had no more disposition to do evil.

President Steven J. Lund: And in a generation, they just didn’t believe it. Something disruptive happened there.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yes.

President Steven J. Lund: How did they go from that to that? Their parents, obviously, we’re trying to teach them. Something came into their society – I’ve got to assume from the outside – that disrupted the flow of that testimony from generation to generation. And it feels not unlike what’s happening with social media today.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yes.

President Steven J. Lund: Where there are attractive, compelling, beautiful voices coming from lots of directions at them that are trying to shape their view of spirituality and sociality, and what’s right and wrong, and so forth. I think we really live at a time when that is exactly our peril. Values are being disrupted by some new intervention that’s being injected into society and I agree with you. Children and Youth, generally, in the For the Strength of Youth programs, specifically, are going to be a huge help to keep our kids moored to the kingdom.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: And, can I just add one more thing to that? That’s why the focus by the apostles and prophets and the rest of us who follow them, is on Jesus Christ. That was where this generation dislodged. And I was with [Young Women General] President Bonnie Cordon in St. George training on one occasion and we had been talking about this and she made a powerful observation, which I now repeat, every time I go somewhere training and attribute to her. She said, “You know, and yet, when you look at the stripling warriors, that was a another rising generation group, much later in the Book of Mormon, they, not one was lost. So what’s the difference? And we don’t know a lot about these children of the King Benjamin era, but we do know that the stripling warriors were called upon to serve and to save each other, to do hard things with the gospel of Jesus Christ and with their faith in Christ, in particular. And she sort of opened my eyes to that. So the Children and Youth program, how powerful, how great a blessing we have that prophets and apostles have steered it toward the work of salvation and exaltation on the part of youth.


Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: And it’s working. This summer, I can’t even tell you how many young people would come up to me and talk about significant changes that they were making in their life, because of the closeness to Christ that they felt at FSY. I know there are young men who are on missions, even as we speak, because they went home from FSY this summer and they started filling out their applications. These were young men who said, “No, that’s not for me. I’m not doing that. I’m not jumping that hoop.” And yet, at FSY, it wasn’t that somebody was there, saying, “Go on a mission, go on a mission, go on a mission.” It’s not like that was being beaten into them, but that was the natural consequence. As they felt closer to Christ, as they recognized the importance of His Atonement, then the natural consequence was that they wanted to share it. And no longer were they afraid. No longer were they saying, “Yeah, but what will people think of me?” Instead, they were saying, “I am ready to get out there and let this world know that this is the solution.”

Youth show their companies’ banners during the For the Strength of Youth Conference at BYU in Provo, Utah, on Friday, June 3, 2022. | Mengshin Lin, Deseret News

President Steven J. Lund: And what caused that? What was the disruption that happened there that caused them to go from one level to another?

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: I think you described it well in your conference talk, Steve, because it was a consistent experience in the scriptures where they were not just reading, but they were discussing and talking about what they read and learned. I think it was a consistent chance to hear some dynamic gospel teachers, share some gospel principles, and to be able to participate in those learning experiences. I think it was a chance to share their own testimonies. Wasn’t it Elder Stevenson who said that as we share our testimonies then the Spirit bears witness of what comes out of our own mouths? Oh, I saw that over and over and over.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Sarah, President Lund tells parents, “Walk through fire to get your youth to FSY.” I mean, I’ve been repeating that, as I’ve been on the road. We’ve got to, and I think this will naturally happen. We had 103,400, roughly, youth in North America attend FSY this year. I think next year is going to be higher, because the youth are talking about it, there’s such a buzz in the community. But if you’ve not heard, follow President Lund’s counsel. Walk through fire to get your youth to FSY next year.

Young Women President Bonnie H. Cordon hugs Lily Payne at an FSY conference at Weber State University in Ogden on Thursday, July 14, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


Sarah Jane Weaver: We’re going to do that, and then let’s shift, because as we think about FSY next year, opportunities for youth coming up, I also want to talk about the 2023 theme for our youth. That comes from Philippians and it says that, “I can do all things through Christ.”

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” This was something that both presidencies jointly, unitedly, by the sensation of the Holy Ghost, recommended to the First Presidency in the Twelve, who embraced it, and now it’s the theme for next year. And it goes right back to the FSY guide and Elder Uchtdorf’s comment, “Christ is the strength of youth.” And that’s exactly what Paul is saying, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.” And so it’s amazing. I think we would all agree, right, brethren? It’s amazing how this all lined up. Some cosmic genius put all of these pieces together and now, the youth theme for next year actually aligns with this booklet and everything else that we’re saying, all centered in Christ.

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Young Women and Young Men general presidencies announce the 2023 youth theme

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: And it builds. It builds on this year’s theme, which was “Trust in the Lord.” And as young people have learned to trust in the Lord with all their heart, now they need to learn how to step out and do things with the help of Jesus Christ. I just hope that people will recognize the context that this scripture comes in, because it’s verse 13, but verses 12 and 11 also add some important information, because we’re seeing that he’s not talking about, “Oh, you can win every trophy. You can win every game. You can win every election and you can do anything, because Christ will help you.” Now that’s not the message. Look at verse 11. It says, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” Christ can help us learn how to be content and happy and joyful, regardless of our circumstances, just as President Nelson has taught us. Look at verse 12. “I know [both] how to be abased, and I know how to abound: … I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” So he’s talking about some of these horrible situations that he’s been in and how Christ has been his help and his strength, as he has been able to deal with circumstances that have been out of his control. But he’s learned how to turn to Christ for strength and that’s what I’m hoping the young people will walk away with this year.

President Steven J. Lund: I hope that our youth, and all of us, will tune in on the last half of that. “Yeah, I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me,” that this is the need of our age, isn’t it? How often do we hear from kids, “I just don’t know what to do. I feel adrift. I don’t know how to find any moorings. I just need somebody to help me find my way?” And this is the way, you know, I’m not finding out right now, but in the pamphlet, it refers to the Word of Wisdom. And remember, the Word of Wisdom says that if you keep the Word of Wisdom, that you’ll have an increase in knowledge and understanding.

2023 youth theme
2023 youth theme | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Yeah.

President Steven J. Lund: So while you’re wringing your hands saying, “Gee, I don’t know whether I should do this or that,” or, “I’m not sure,” You can start with some basics and say, “Well, am I doing the things that unlock those promises, unlocks the strength? If I draw closer to the Savior to the things that I eat, and don’t eat, and how I treat my body, if I draw close to the Savior by keeping the Sabbath Day holy, and go down the list, I become strengthened. I gain more confidence. I’d become a stronger creature, a better agent unto myself. My anxiety will diminish. My lack of self-confidence may be improved.” And so this all comes together into one whole, doesn’t it? That the needs of our time, of our youth is to find a better way forward. And that better way forward is defined by these principles.

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Sarah Jane Weaver: We could talk about the youth of the Church for a very, very long time. So we’ll for sure have you back and maybe the next time we do it, we’ll have the Young Woman [general] presidency with you, too.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Oh, wouldn’t that be fun?

Sarah Jane Weaver: Wouldn’t that be so much fun?

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: By the way, if Mark Pace and Brother Camargo and Brother Newman were here, the Sunday School General Presidency, they would say, “Oh, that’s the theme, because next year’s Come Follow Me is the New Testament.” That’s what they would say, so I’m going to put a plug in for our brethren in the Sunday School [general] presidency.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Who are engaged with the youth

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: Who are also engaged with the youth

President Steven J. Lund: Now you’re talking crazy, that’s pure coincidence.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: So don’t forget, Come Follow Me next year in the New Testament.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, as we wind up, I want us to keep our thoughts on this theme. We have a tradition at the Church News podcast where we always give our guests the last word and we let them answer the same question. And so, as all three of you brethren contemplate the theme and relying on the Lord and looking to the Savior and all things, what do you know now? We’ll start with Brother Wilcox.


Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: I think that as we’ve watched the world emerge from the pandemic, I think we’re seeing some people who are emerging, bitter and others who are emerging better. And I think a lot of that has to do with how they have let this experience either draw them closer to Christ, or make them more and more angry with God and the Church. I’ve seen people who have shaken their fist at heaven and said, “Why would God allow something like this to happen?” Not just the pandemic, but whatever is going on in their lives. And I’ve seen other people face the same circumstances and extend an open hand, seeking the help that God can give. And I just am so grateful, that we are able, now, to gather again, to strengthen each other and to look for opportunities not to stay away, but to look for opportunities to gather and to help each other as we try to strengthen our relationship with Christ.

I just returned from a training trip to Africa. This is the first time in our presidencies that we’ve been able to travel internationally, because of the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it was so amazing to me to see that those people, not only are back to the same number attending church that they had before the pandemic, but they have more people attending than they had before the pandemic, because people are just hungry to gather. They’re hungry to strengthen each other. I went to church, we got there about 40 minutes early, and there was this lady with canes that she was carrying. Her legs didn’t function very well. Her hands were full of arthritis. She had cataracts. She had hearing aids. And here was this little grandma who was there a half-hour early and then the bishop asked her to say the opening prayer. She made her way to the front and then she said, “Thank thee, that I am well enough to come to church.” And I just thought, “Man have we got some lessons to learn?” Here is this sister who has walked, heaven only knows how far, and got there half-hour early, because she’s so anxious for the sacrament, so anxious for the brotherhood, so anxious for the grace that she can access as she renews her covenants. She’s just so anxious for this, that she prays, “Thank thee, that I’m well enough to come to church.” And yet there are still some members in our communities that are saying, “I want to find any excuse not to go.” And I just hope that we can turn to Christ, that we can gather, that we can feel the Spirit and strength that we felt at general conference this last weekend. And, I guess, what I’ve learned is that it is there, if people will just open their hearts to it. That strength is there. It is available. It’s real. It’s powerful. I’ve seen it in Africa. I’ve seen it in the youth and I’ve seen it in my own life. And I say that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt: One of my missionaries from Guatemala sent me a WhatsApp message with a recording of himself as one of two spokespersons on Channel Seven in Guatemala City talking about the general conference that was going to be shown on that channel, for the whole nation, and he was so proud of it. And I’m so proud of him, and he did such a good job. The Lord is flooding the earth with the truth. We are seeing the fulfillment of prophecy right before our eyes and everyone will be able to go and find the word of the Lord, and “For the Strength of Youth” guide, and the Children and Youth program and more broadly, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the prophets and apostles, prophets, seers and revelators that the Lord has placed before us and to lead us, we just have this flood of the word of the Lord, as prophesied.

Lastly, I would say, we had people here that Lehi’s is teaching, that there’s an opposition in all things and many see that as a negative comment, “Oh, no, things are going good now, so there’s something negative around the corner.” But the opposite is true. When there’s a pandemic, when there’s death, when there is sadness or sickness, there is good attached to that by eternal law. And we are seeing some of the blessings of the negativity that we’ve seen over the past few years, a couple years, and we’re living it. We are as positive and optimistic and happy as can be for the rising generation and for their parents and for the future of the Church, Sarah. I really do, and we hear the prophets and apostles say this all the time, but we really feel burning in our bosom, that the future of the Church is in good hands. And I bear witness of that in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


President Steven J. Lund: What I know now is being colored by my most recent experiences. Yesterday, I attended the funeral of a sweet neighbor, a young mom with three children who passed away. And I heard a story from the dad that, just a week before she passed away, she had a big event coming up and she went down and picked out a dress to take this very elegant affair. And she had a chance to choose between all of the things and this was not a church affair. And so you know, she couldn’t have lots of latitude and where she could decide, but she brought with her what she had learned. She was one of my wife’s Saturday girls, back in time, you know, who had grown up thinking about seriously about how she presents herself and how the world sees her. So she bought a dress and brought it home, but, but she never got to wear it, because she passed away. And as her family went to find her burial clothing, they find this boxed dress still unworn, and so they took it down to a store to trade it in on something. And actually, they thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could buy something, find something just like this?” And they found the exact dress in white. And so she actually got to pick out her own funeral dress. I find it so interesting that the dress she picked out was completely appropriate for her to be displayed in front of her family and the world and, and be buried. And if that were a standard that we were to try to follow, we’d be in a in a pretty good place. We live in a pretty cynical world and without the light of the gospel, this is a dark place and we understand where that cynicism often comes from. What I know is there’s no room for cynicism in this Church. We follow a living prophet. We follow He whom he follows, the Savior of the world, when it tends to lead us into a brighter uplands, where our decisions are going to all be shown to bring us closer to happiness and more fulfilling lives. I know that the gospel path is that place towards happiness and joy. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast and if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer KellieAnn Halvorsen and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on

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