USA (MNN) — The Missio Nexus conference held last week in Florida provided an opportunity for MNN to talk more with Tom Lin, director of the Urbana Student Mission Conference and vice president of missions for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, about what is happening at North America’s largest student missions conference in December.
Urbana is held every three years to connect college students who want to use their degrees for global change. “Most of what we do at Urbana is to point the direction where we see missions and…[where] missions is going in the future,” says Lin, director of the Urbana Student Mission Conference and vice president of missions for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA
It seems lately this future is found in the Persecuted Church.
“I think [it is] a significant theme. I think because it is dominating not only global mission headlines, but global headlines…. At Urbana, we’re focusing on it because one of the traits of this generation…is this sense of global citizenship. They are global citizens; they understand they are apart of a global family. We want to continue to reinforce that.”
Lin also sees how the unique gifts of the millennial generation will help them to work and connect globally. “I think one of the unique giftings that they have is this entrepreneurial spirit. So if you look at statistics, I think research shows maybe half of them want to be business owners or entrepreneurs and start their own organizations. The technology tools available to them [and] their ingenuity is just amazing.”
Students now have opportunities open to them because of the technology available.
They’re able to do more than ever before and believe they can make a difference. “There’s this sense that they can do those things, they’re capable they’re at an age where technology and other things enable them…They’re going to tackle a lot of significant challenges using technology,” said Lin.
However, even with these unique generational gifts, Lin still sees challenges facing the millennial generation. “Their attention span we know is shorter. They move on to thing to thing to thing quickly.” While it may be hard to refrain from laughing about a short attention span, there are more serious challenges this generation faces.
He points out, “statistics also show they tend to be younger in their faith on average in college. So you’ve got more people who become Christians, come to Christ while in college, so their journeys have just started and sociologically you have delayed adulthood so you have students who are perhaps less mature than generations earlier who are in their twenties.” Urbana is helping these students invest in their future and the future of the great commission.
Lin says they’re adding new things to follow up with students in efforts to keep their attention in their missions journey. “We’re partnering with the Perspectives, the Perspectives movement and offering scholarships for them to continue studying and engaging in a course with missions.” Urbana partners are hosting follow up events shortly after the December event, too.
However, this unique generation still needs its prayer warriors. Lin asks for people to pray for the spiritual protection of this generation. “I think there’s so much adversity that this new generation faces. It’s a serious generation, a serious time. They worry about unemployment; they worry about what’s going on in the world. There’s a lot of brokenness they see and a lot of fast changes…and all of these things can derail them.”