a second quick post from Urbana 06

Written by Mark Van Steenwyk : December 28, 2006

My particular job at Urbana is to be the “clicker” at dinnertime. In other words, I will be the one standing at the door counting all 23,000 people as they come through the door. Good times. Yesterday, I was trained into my job. After training and dinner, I attended the main session, which was a line by line commentary of Ephesians 1:1-14 by Ajith Fernando (National Director for Youth for Christ in Sri Lanka). The worship music was well done and loud, but not my style. I understand why people really enjoy large worship gatherings, but I prefer singing with a handful of people with unplugged musicians.

Nevertheless, it is awesome seeing 23,000 people in one place. And those faces aren’t homogeneous. I’ve been impressed by the diversity at Urbana. While white students are in the majority, there are students from all corners of the earth here as well as students from every state in the US and province in Canada. Over 200 organizations are represented here (from across the evangelical spectrum). I’m pleased that while InterVarsity hosts Urbana, the conference isn’t “all about” InterVarsity.

Furthermore, I’m pleased by the bookstore. It doesn’t have that over-loaded consumer feel that one finds at many ministry conferences. The selection of books is broad, yet restrained. There are a number of books that encourage a radical Christ-centered life (in the best sense of the word “radical.”)

This theme of radical discipleship finds its way into the “majors” (seminar tracks) being offered. Here are the different majors:

  • Africa
  • Aids
  • Around the World
  • Arts
  • Asian
  • Campus
  • Crossing Cultures
  • Diverse People
  • Evangelism
  • Getting Ready to Go
  • Global Missions Issues
  • Healthcare
  • High School
  • Missions 101
  • Pastors and Church Leaders
  • Slum Communities
  • Urban
  • Workplace and Academia
  • World Religions
  • General Interest

While there is certainly a global focus, the overall sense of Urbana is that God’s call can lead anywhere. There is no privileging of “foreign” missions over “domestic.”

I’ll be attending only three sessions, because of my job responsibilities. Here’s the sessions I’ll be attending:

  1. Justice 101: Intermediate Steps to Transforming the City (Kevin Blue) Urban Major
  2. The Simple Way: The New Monasticism in North America’s Cities (Shane Claiborne) Urban Major
  3. Mission and Monasticism: Is this Ancient Form of Mission Reemerging? (Scott Bessenecker) Slum Communities Major

My reason for attending these tracks is to 1) go deeper in my understanding of engaging in urban mission as a neo-monastic community and 2) to meet others who are either doing such ministry or are interested in doing such ministry.

for further reading . . .

  • None Found