I count it a great privilege to be invited to serve as an Urbana 12 steward (their fancy word for volunteer) and it was so much fun! Urbana is a large-scale missions conference that just finished out on this last week of 2012, concluding with communion to ring in the New Year 2013 together. What a memorable time, and it changed many lives of participants attending #u12 (the Urbana 12 event hashtag prominently printed everywhere and actively used throughout); and I want to add, Urbana 12 changed my life as a volunteer too. (btw, there were over 800 volunteers plus countless staff to make Urbana 12 so happening)
The best way to grow is to change how you see the world. Life experience shapes perception, perception shapes truth, and for most of us people, perception is truth.
That’s what the Urbana conference does so well every 3 years: bringing a wide swatch of the world to receptive college students so they can find God’s will for their place in the world.
12 ways that Urbana 12 change my life by opening my eyes to see the world differently::
- Activating a social media squad: Adam Jeske skillfully empowered a team of 14 of us to serve as the an online pastoral team to engage participants in real-time using Twitter, along with Facebook, Instagram, and blogging. Read articles in Christian Post and Mission Network News. I’ll be talking more about this on an upcoming episode of Social Media Church podcast [update: read Adam Jeske's insider look = Tweeting for Jesus with 16,000 Friends: Urbana Social Media]
- Urbana 12 Live Blog: my primary role was to blog highlights in real-time during thr main sessions to complement the livestream videos. My best discovery was using Storify to curate tweets and photos, see: Changed Lives, Responding to God’s Invitation, Power of Prayer
- doing something together with dear wife: Rachelle and I enjoyed our 3rd Urbana together; shared experiences can bring people closer in wonderful ways; and she joined Twitter @rachellewchuang too
- sharing my life: I spoke at the Pan Asian North American Lounge, thankful to James Choung for the special opportunity– listen to and/or read my talk — Step up, Speak Up, Live It Up; you don’t have to be a superstar to make a difference
- launch lab: got a spontaneous on-the-spot invitation from Josh Kwan to give one-on-one coaching feedback to young people with business/ministry ideas to help them towards implementation.. I’m no Charles Lee, but it sure was encouraging to realize that I have more than I knew I had to offer others in this intimidating context
- integrating a seamless theme: loved how the Urbana 12 organizers weaved the theme of God’s Invitation through-and-through.. powerful draw that pulled us forward into God’s work in the world
- shifting demographics in the USA: the American population will have no racial/ethnic majority by 2050, maybe sooner; and we experienced that in the Urbana 12 immersion, both in the attendance and on stage
- reality check on multiethnic worship: it’s so profoundly transforming because you are literally experiencing worship like the way it will be in eternity. But the sad reality in America is that less than 10% of Urbana participants will get to have this experience back at their home churches.
- it’s a family reunion: got to connect with many old friends and some new ones too, too many to name here.. if I talked with you, you know who you are
- it’s a small world: even amidst 16,000 people you wind up meeting people that know people you know, aka 2nd degree of separation; biggest surpise: someone that knew me via Toronto church planter Danny Yang
- God’s opening doors: recently being thrown into a job transition, I was not sure how God could use my unconventional personality to provide for muself and family.. while I have a good number of skills that could work in a variety of jobs just to make money, how much better it is to be given an opportunity to use my “mad scientist” profile in a “skunk works” context.. praying this will be a go
- faith in action: on the evening of Day 3 Urbana 12 Join-In event, we assembled 32,000 caregiving kits together, in response to need in Swaziland.. we truly experienced first-hand how we really are part of something much bigger than ourselves
Were you at Urbana 12? I’d love to hear your stories too!
[by the numbers: attendance 16,000 (unofficial); ethnic demographics: 56% Caucasian, 30% East Asian, 7.7% African Am, 6.3% Hispanic/Latino, 6.1% Southeast Asian, 2.9% South Asian; over 6,000 Asians; cf. production notes]