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Missions vs. Mission

There are missions. And there is mission. And the difference between the two is as important a distinction as can be made for someone who feels the call of God on their life.

In fact, it is often this single-letter difference that stands between a person and a fulfilled—or frustrated—future.

Many young people who grew up in the church remember “missions” as a “cool” alternative to summer break trips, where beach days got switched for VBS and teens were pushed outside their comfort zones and into the wider world of serving others.

Others choose to see evangelism and justice in terms of “mission”—a broader, abstract view of God’s unfolding work of redemption in the world and our part in carrying out the Great Commission, both at home and abroad.

At Urbana, the largest student missions conference in North America, attendees are called to both.

“Many churches, pastors, leaders and students are seeking this kind of life, whether their career aspirations lead to a village or a boardroom,” says Urbana director Tom Lin. “Everyone is seeking something greater than themselves.”

This is particularly true for Millennials, who have earned a reputation as a soul-seeking, less-is-more generation. For them, growing up is no longer about assimilating a set of cultural expectations, like getting married or buying a house. It’s about having experiences, getting smarter, then giving back. It’s about valuing others more than oneself, living well rather than living large, and living out Christ’s mission every day.

Two Words Collide

With mission(s), Millennials are given a greater picture of sustainable faith. They learn how to make long-term relationships and commitments. Wherever they go, solutions to both spiritual and physical ailments are enhanced. Communities and cultures get respected. Brothers and sisters help one another in true, tangible, long-term partnerships.

And this December, 18,000 people will begin their own mission(s) trips at Urbana 12. Through seminars led by global influencers, plus multi-ethnic worship and a chance to connect with representatives from 250 missions organizations, participants can explore what it looks like to live out the powerful hybrid of those two small words with an intent to change individuals and communities around the globe.

So, whether it’s in Uganda or Utah, through going or receiving, the scope of mission(s) not only spans the width of the world but of God’s call on every heart.


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