Physics, missions, and 2012 come together

(Photo courtesy Urbana.org)

(Photo courtesy Urbana.org)

USA (MNN) — Remember Urbana ’12?

It’s so last year…except that it’s not. Urbana is a large-scale, empowering missions event held every three years and is the most diverse gathering of students, recent graduates, missions practitioners and church leaders in North America.

While it hit last year, the ripples sent out by the conference were small at first, but have since gathered energy. Similar to physics, force is any influence that causes something to undergo a certain change, either concerning its movement or direction.

Why does Urbana ’12 matter at the cusp of 2014? Tom Lin, Director of Missions and Director of the Urbana Student Missions Conference, explains, “God continues the work after the conference. We need to continue to connect with them, follow up with them, and encourage them as an Urbana team.”

(Photo courtesy Urbana.org)

(Photo courtesy Urbana.org)

More specifically, he notes that at Urbana ’12, there were more serious students looking at missions. “I think this generation really took that call to give their whole life to it, to see that there is joy in giving your life to this, that it’s worth it. I think those are some of the main themes of Urbana ’12.” In fact, Lin adds, “I heard many mission organizations [saying] that they saw more high quality students and candidates than the last three Urbana’s, combined.”

Why this response? It’s the Millennial generation. “They see themselves as global citizens, so when things affect other parts of the world, they feel like there’s a need to do something about it.” That also means that vision casting has to be clear. Lin notes that “this student generation, when given a clear vision for what they can do and what’s worthwhile doing, they’ll say ‘yes’ to it.”

4,200 students made long-term commitments to missions at Urbana ’12–the most they’ve seen since 2000. But not everyone made those commitments during the emotional swell of Urbana ‘12. Some students took some time to think about the direction they were going. Once they considered their options, Lin says, “ Our surveys show that an additional 15% of the students made short-term commitments to missions after the conference. An additional 8% of the students made long-term commitments after the conference.”

That’s why Urbana ’12 matters. Since 1946 there have been 23 Urbanas. Unlike conferences in years past, this one used social media to keep the students engaged. They’re still using Facebook, Twitter, and the Web to keep these Millennials moving forward. Says Lin, “We’re well aware that the commitments they’ve made often take years to fulfill. A constant reminder, accountability from what God did at Urbana ’12 is vitally important.”

(Photo courtesy Urbana.org)

(Photo courtesy Urbana.org)

It’s all about staying focused, directing that energy toward one thing: the Gospel. God is active in the world today, telling the same story He has been telling since He created the world. That’s why Urbana continues to grow.

One more thing, says Lin. As the New Year is upon us, Urbana represents forward movement. With that, comes this announcement: “I’m happy to share that [the next Urbana is] December 27-31, 2015, and it will be in the city of St. Louis again.”

Stay tuned for more on Urbana in the days ahead. Keep in touch at #U12lives and @UrbanaMissions.