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Urbana Are attendees actually committing to long-term ministry?

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Urbana '06 Research Project

At each triennial Urbana convention, thousands of students and other delegates gather to learn about God’s work in the world, hear inspiring Bible teaching and connect with peers, missionaries and mission agencies. Many delegates indicate making commitments to follow Jesus, to be an active witness for Him and to serve him as an intentional, cross-cultural witness. Of those serving on the mission field today, many have attended past Urbana conventions. How influential is Urbana in moving people toward a career in mission?


Even with excellent data being collected from delegates during the convention, that is still difficult to tell. Questions remain about delegates’ commitment levels and influences on that commitment before the convention, as well as the degree to which delegates retain their commitment over time.


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Typically, more than 19,000 students attend the triennial Urbana conventions.

The Urbana '06 research project focuses on an extended pre/post survey with a panel of Urbana 2006 delegates. Delegate commitments are assessed up to two months before Urbana’06 and four months afterwards, enabling a fuller understanding of the commitment curve of delegates over a period of approximately eight to nine months.


The research firm Campbell Rinker is partnering with GMI in this project. GMI’s mission – producing and presenting world-class research to fuel emerging mission movements and leaders – aligns closely with the project goals.


The research topics were designed to reveal the nature, extent and staying power of Urbana’s influence on delegates in order to strengthen Urbana’s efforts to benefit the mission community at large.

Research Topics

The study focuses on the following topics in order to develop the greatest insight into behavior and attitudinal changes that impact a delegate’s sense of engagement and calling:

  • How many delegates who indicate making a commitment to cross-cultural ministry have made a previous commitment (or were close to doing so)? 
  • What influence does Urbana have in comparison with other influences (for example, church, family or peer influences)? To what degree do other influences reinforce commitments made at Urbana? 
  • How lasting are commitments made at Urbana? How strongly do delegates retain or reaffirm those commitments several months later? 
  • To what degree do Urbana delegates influence their peers – either before or after the convention? 
  • To what degree do delegates who make a commitment follow through on that commitment? 
  • Why do delegates and missionaries consider Urbana effective or ineffective?