Urbana vs. Passion – which will you choose?

2 gigantic Christian conferences are scheduled this Winter break 2012-2013, ramping up for tens of thousands of college students converging from everywhere. 1 is called Urbana 12. 1 is called Passion 2013. Here’s the data on these 2 Christian mega-conferences, a side-by-side comparison to sort things out (or scroll down for the #infographic) ::

Urbana 12

Passion 2013
dates December 27-31, 2012 January 1-4, 2013
location America’s Center Convention Complex @ St. Louis, Missouri Georgia Dome @ Atlanta, Georgia
cost $449 students 17-29 years old /
$549 non-students
($50 off before 11/12)
$219 students 18-25 years old
($20 off before 12/1)
size 18,000 71,000
speakers Calisto Odede
Geri Rodman
Ziel Machado
Chai Ling
David Platt
Daniel Bourdanné
Ram Sridharan
Sandra Van Opstal
Terry LeBlanc
Tom Lin
Louie Giglio
Chris Tomlin
Francis Chan
Kristian Stanfill
Beth Moore
Matt Redman
John Piper
Christy Nockels
Charlie Hall
seminars 150+ with 66+ speakers, covering topics like evangelism, missions, global issues, poverty and justice, healthcare, world religions n/a
exhibitors 250+ 0
organizers InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of Canada, and Groupes Bilbiques Universitaires et Collégiaux du Canada Passion Conferences / Choice Ministries, Inc. / 268 Generation / sixstepsrecords
started in 1946 1997
purpose Urbana 12’s mission is to compel this generation to give their whole lives for God’s global mission. Passion exists to glorify God by uniting students in worship, prayer and justice for spiritual awakening in this generation
distinctives Over 250 missions agencies, working in over 150 countries will exhibit… choose from over 200 seminars… Urbana is geared for college students and anyone age 17-29, though anyone over 17 is welcome to attend…” “exposure to global issues and realities; multicultural worship, dance and drama; specialized tracks on issues such as leadership, poverty and justice, and international ministry Attendees at Passion 2012 participated in a campaign, 72 Days For Freedom, raising more than $3.5 Million to fight modern day slavery and human trafficking

And here’s an Urbana 12 vs. Passion 2013 infographic (courtesy of Ben Sorber) —

Both Urbana and Passion have changed thousands of lives throughout their respective big events. Both Urbana 12 and Passion 2013 will undoubtedly be powerful experiences that will spiritually inspire its eager attendees, the next generation seeking to discern God’s will in their lives.

Decision-making is never easy. You could opt-out, and miss out. Which will you choose? Let us know on this poll and add a comment about how you decided


9 responses to “Urbana vs. Passion – which will you choose?”

  1. For those of you who decided and have registered, how did you decide??

    Help the undecided and/or not yet registered ones – NOTE the early registration deadlines — November 12th for Urbana 12 and December 1 for Passion 2013

    [disclosure: I’m a member of the Social Media Squad for Urbana 12]

  2. Is passion every year? If so, I think that would be an important factor given that Urbana is only every 3 years

    1. Yes, it does look like Passion has a conference at least once a year, and in multiple locations around the world (though each may be different in some ways), while Urbana is only once every 3 years.

  3. Also, there’s another Christian mega-conference on December 28-31 for “25,000 young adults at the International House of Prayer’s onething conference” in Kansas City — http://www.ihopkc.org/onething/

  4. There is another large conference for college students focused on missions and is called The World Missions Summit. It happens once every four years and is a collaborative effort between The Assemblies of God & Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. From cultural exhibitions to meals with current missionaries and opportunities to hear from those who have “given a year and prayed about a lifetime”, it’s an incredible event. It’s where I will be and it’s hosted in Ft. Worth Texas this year from December 28-30!


    1. Blane, thanks for adding this event, good to know of a good thing going on fo aog and chi alpha!

  5. kristen Avatar

    this is an interesting side-by-side and rather unbiased considering you’re IV staff. I wonder if it’s so unbiased it doesn’t highlight some of the major differences? (I’m IV staff struggling to put into words… google searching if anyone else has yet!)

  6. kristen Avatar

    Here’s a thought: the Passion conference has in common with Urbana is its “reach” and not as much the structure or content. Similarities: Large #s of young attendees. A worship-y and mission-y “feel”.
    But the differences I see are more significant than price, location, and recognizable speakers. The structures are different; the campus connections (or follow- up opportunities after a weeklong experience), the culture of the group, ethnic and cultural diversity of speakers and teachers, and of worship opportunities… the mission is different. The mission statement for Passion is similar to the mission statement for Urbana yet they go about it in different ways, which to me highlights that they have different purposes. Passion mobilizes attendees towards one cause with a handful of organizations representing the Kingdom work towards that cause, and fundraising within the attendance group. Urbana is significantly broader. The outcomes are also different- after Passion you have a great set of “hit” worship songs which serve churches and worshiping communities for the coming years, and a huge group of students has a vision for worship/ discipleship in their day to day lives, alongside a vision for ending slavery, and a possible connection to some number of groups (including the church or youth group they might have come with or been sponsored by).
    After Urbana, a huge group of students has that same vision (personal worship/ discipleship), but with a focus and balance on the outward expression of that worship. 4,000 specific commitments, thousands of connections to hundreds of groups including campus follow up with IV, BCM, AIV, LaFe, etc.

    All this to say I am struggling today to see and appreciate the “point” of the Passion conference, on a year when it’s juxtaposed with Urbana. I need a change of heart, and I’m seeking that through some logic and understanding, alongside simply the Spirit’s work to unify, love unconditionally, have peace and graciousness, etc.

  7. @kristen, thank you for taking a closer & more detailed look at these 2 conferences.. to clarify, I am not IVCF staff. I did just return from Urbana 12 where I did serve as a volunteer. I realize that an infographic by its nature can only present simplified overview of a comparison, so your thoughtful detailed analysis is much more nuanced and explanatory of significant differences. thank you

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