Next week, we will be joining 17,000 students at InterVarsity’s 22nd Urbana convention.
Urbana is the missions conference for North American students, hosted by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA and Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada.
Generations of college students have gone to Urbana to hear about cutting edge issues in missions and to respond to the call to participate in God’s global mission. During the five days of Urbana, participants will experience multicultural worship and drama, dynamic speakers, in-depth Bible study and prayer. They will also be encouraged to explore short-term and vocational opportunities as they interact with representatives from more than 300 mission agencies and educational institutions.
I will be attending Urbana as an IFES delegate, primarily in my role as Digital Services Manager, as well as helping to host the other IFES delegates who will be travelling from all over the world. During the conference I aim to post updates to twitter and this blog, and to include some video updates too.
I hope to learn lots, not just about North American student culture and the work of InterVarsity/USA and Inter-Varsity Canada, but also to gain an insight into how digital services are used to cover an event as big as this. The last Urbana was in 2006, when facebook was still in its infancy and twitter just a distant dream. I will be interested to see how the event organisers, students and exhibitors will make use of social media at an event like this. I have already connected with SIM USA via twitter, and look forward to meeting with them at the event; it sounds as though they have quite an interesting digital strategy.
Do keep an eye on this page, and let me know of any areas of the conference you would like to know more about, or see covered in various ways.
Here is the latest press release from Urbana:
College students want to change the world, today more than ever. The study-abroad statistics from the Institute of International Education indicate a growing desire for a global perspective. More than 262,000 Americans studied abroad in 2007-2008, an increase of 8.5-percent from the previous year and four times the number of just two decades ago. Changing the world is what Urbana 09 is all about.
Urbana’s Global Perspective
The growing number of students with global experience who will attend InterVarsity’s Urbana 09 Student Missions Conference is reminiscent of the returning veterans who attended InterVarsity’s first Student Missions Conference in 1946. They had acquired a global perspective as they traveled across the globe during World War II and were preparing to return overseas, taking the gospel message with them.
In the years since 1946, as student populations have changed in many ways, InterVarsity’s triennial Student Missions Conference has maintained its global perspective. In 1948 the conference relocated to the campus of the University of Illinois, where it came to be called Urbana. Then in 2006 it moved to St. Louis, Missouri, for Urbana 06. Urbana 09 will also be held in St. Louis, December 27-31, 2009 at the Edward Jones Dome and The Americas Center.
Not Just Another Conference
Since that first conference 63 years ago, more than 240,000 Urbana attendees have been challenged to consider God’s call to global missions. Urbana has become one of the longest-lived, regularly scheduled events within evangelical Christianity, and its impact on each generation of college students is widely known and well respected. Pastor Rick Warren, the author of the best-selling book The Purpose Driven Life and a speaker at Urbana 06, said, “You can’t afford to miss Urbana. If you are serious about not wasting your life, do whatever it takes to get there.”
Urbana is focused on mobilizing men and women for global missions, but the conference’s influence is broader. Author and theologian John Stott, who spoke at six Urbanas, said, “In my travels I have met many missionaries and other Christian workers whose lives were profoundly changed by the Urbana experience.”
Urbana’s Ripple Effect
In a growing number of countries the Urbana conference has been a stimulus for Christian student groups to sponsor their own student missions conferences in locations as far-flung as Nigeria, India and Ukraine. “These events represent a growing missionary vision across the world,” said Lindsay Brown, former General Secretary of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. “There’s no doubt in my mind that Urbana has contributed to this vision.” About two dozen international guests will be on hand at Urbana 09 to gain an insider’s perspective on hosting their own student missions conference.
The best way to experience Urbana is by attending the multitude of seminars, and by developing new contacts and new friendships. But today the explosion of electronic media and the internet means that the message of Urbana 09 will be shared in many new ways.
Urbana and Social Media
Videos of the general sessions will be posted online at www.urbana09.org within hours after each session. Audio files from general sessions and news conferences will also be made available, as well as news releases. But unofficial, participant-produced reports from Urbana will also be populating online social media, on sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Flickr. Urbana 09 will be the first Urbana conference that can be followed on Twitter (use the hash tag #urbana09).
“At a time when students are thinking globally and are open to what it is that God may be saying to them, we’re showing them what God is doing in the world, and then inviting them to be a part of that,” said Jim Tebbe, the director of Urbana .
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship is an interdenominational ministry to university students in the United States, with over 32,000 students involved on 550 campuses nationwide. InterVarsity is a founding member of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, which is advancing Christian student work in 150 countries.