USA (MNN) — Over 22,000 people in worship. Over 300 missions groups represented. Five days of Bible study.
"[Urbana is] a conference that challenges each generation of students with God's purposes in the world: what is it that God's doing in the world and how they can engage with His mission, how God is speaking and calling and talking to them."
Jim Tebbe, director of the Urbana missions conference, lived overseas and served as the international director of a missions agency for years. He says that Urbana was a large influencer in his decision to do so. Tebbe is now leading his third Urbana conference and believes strongly in the importance of Urbana for Christian students.
"At a time when they're looking and when they're prepared and open to what it is that God may be saying to them, we're showing them the world, showing them what God is doing there, and then inviting them to be a part of that," says Tebbe.
Every portion of Urbana is focused on God's will and call for this next generation. One significant piece of seeking that out lies in the presence of over 300 missions groups for students to explore. Tebbe says that these groups serve the overall purpose of Urbana rather than as simple advertisements for their missions.
"In the vast majority of the cases, you'll see people [from missions agencies] spending a long time talking with students and then praying with them. That student may never go with that agency, but they've had an opportunity to talk with a mature Christian who's had some experience who can give a picture and another way of looking at things that they may not have considered before."
Tebbe is excited this year for the inductive Bible study on the book of John that will be featured at Urbana 09. Inductive Bible study in an alternating large group and small group setting was a new initiative at Urbana 06 and had a large impact on students. Urbana 09 will challenge students not only to be engaged in the Scriptures in a deep and meaningful way, but will ask students to commit to beginning this type of Bible study with someone who does not know the Lord.
Students at Urbana will have the opportunity to join hands with missions organizations, learn how to study the Bible, and clasp hands with thousands of other students praising the Lord and listening to His voice. At the very heart of it, Urbana is a place for students to focus on God's will for the world and for their lives.
"Students see the glory of God at Urbana in a way they just don't see in other places," says Tebbe. "When they get confused, and when they're lost, they can say, ‘I saw the glory of God and I heard the call of God,' and that gives hope and a direction and a sight that they can go to."
Urbana 09 is an international missions conference established by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. It only comes around every three years, so students thinking about going should consider the fact that this is likely their best opportunity. The conference will take place in St. Louis, Missouri from December 27 to 31; early registration will be discounted until December 1.
To learn more about Urbana, visit www.urbana09.org or click here to view other Mission Network News stories about Urbana.