ending up at Urbana 09

If you’re interested in my post-Urbana thoughts – especially how it reflects InterVarsity – start here.

Wild, wild stuff.

Monday began with a determination to get back to work after a much-needed week-long “furlough.” I had a great phone chat with a college ministry pal – Ian Clark from NewChapter – then was all ready for some intense, homebound catching up.

I had tweeted my grumpiness at missing the Urbana conference – logistics and money made it tricky. But then I got a Facebook reply from Eric Holmer, national Greek InterVarsity guy who had been so helpful on Road Trip 13. It turns out he was able to get me a one-day media pass to Urbana – and, in fact, had Facebooked me a week ago to that effect. But the site didn’t push a notice to my email like it usually does – and in my furlough, I’d mostly just watched email for messages.

So there I was, with a chance to explore the biggest college ministry conference of them all. Only it was in St. Louis. And I was in Dallas. It had started on Sunday. And it ended Thursday.

What’s a college ministry explorer to do?

I asked Jesus, thanked Jesus, and got online.

I combed through my options (quickly), decided on Southwest Airlines over my more common mode of transport (which could perhaps be called Pathfinder Groundlines), and arrived in St. Louis at 10:30 last night. I’ll be enjoying Urbana to-the-hilt today, but I’m staying in St. Louis through Thursday morning. (Who knows what other STL adventures God might want to bring?)

If you’ve been following my excursions for any length of time, you know God has provided some pretty phenomenal college-ministry-exploring adventures, including exciting out-of-the-blue opportunities. For instance, you might remember that Road Trip 12 “came up” only two days before I left. And, long before I began blogging, Road Trip 2 – to visit revival that had broken out at Asbury College – had much the same timing. Plenty of other glorious Providences have occurred within the trips I’ve taken over the last few years.

So while I’m surprised at this week’s turn of events, I’m not too surprised at being surprised. God continues to allow me to explore the amazing world of collegiate ministry in some really amazing ways, all in hopes of helping our field grow stronger and stronger in 2010 and beyond. Today I’m so thankful that, out-of-the-blue, I get to add the BIGGEST college ministry conference of them all. Thankful to the Lord of wonders, and thankful to InterVarsity for the chance to see their pinnacle.

about Urbana, and how to follow

InterVarsity’s 22nd Student Missions Conference (a.k.a. Urbana 09) is indeed the most well-known of the college ministry conferences. It’s clear that individuals both inside and outside the InterVarsity world have been deeply motivated toward the cause of missions.

A couple of months ago, I highlighted three key entities those interested in college ministry should be well aware of. Here’s what I wrote about Urbana:

In the future, when we have glorious things like college ministry history books, the triennial Urbana conference will be a major fixture – maybe even its own chapter. … A blurb from their web page (urbana.org) points to a glorious past and a vision that continues today:

“Since 1946 InterVarsity has been providing a place for college students to see, hear, and respond to God’s global mission at Urbana conferences. If you want to see the world in a whole new light, come to Urbana 09. You’ll learn about critical global issues from dynamic teachers, worship with thousands in one of the most diverse gatherings in North America, and hear missional students and recent graduates testify to God’s faithfulness to the ends of the earth.”

As someone noted recently, Urbana is so clearly connected to the heart of InterVarsity that understanding this conference really does help one understand its parent organization. But for us in the wider world of college ministry, it’s also important for us to realize that this conference is a rich part of our history. It clearly is, even today, the King of Collegiate Conferences. And not nearly all who attend Urbana are IV students and leaders; it’s wide open to any interested in learning of God’s global call.

Want to follow along? I’ll be Twittering fairly heavily today – which is, as of now, the day I’m able to attend. Meanwhile, you can see other Twitter-flections on Urbana right here (hashtag #urbana09).

And look for some sort of reflection on the blog tomorrow, too. If you feel like praying for a valuable experience, that’d be awesome, too.

[I spent two posts reflecting on what Urbana reveals about InterVarsity’s campus ministry work as a whole: See those posts here and here!]

Written from Motel 6, St. Louis, Missouri

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One Comment

  1. That’s awesome! I spent 8 plus years in the StL area (3 yrs of High School and 4ish yrs at SIUE on the Metro East side). I wasn’t involved in a college ministry back in those days…needed to be, but that’s a different story. I would love to hear about the collegiate ministries you encounter. Have fun!

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