Alumni Q and A with Carlos Soca

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Carlos Soca holding sign saying going to NJQ: Tell us about your ministry and family.

A: I’m married to Madai. She led me to the Lord when I was 17. We’ve been married for 17 years and are blessed to have three kids, Josh, Hannah and Avery.

My family was sent off a year ago by Open Door Church in Raleigh, North Carolina with a team to plant a church in the metro New York and New Jersey area. I serve as the lead planter and pastor of Christ Our Hope Church in Clifton, New Jersey, about 12 miles west of Manhattan.

Q: Why Southeastern?

A: Several factors contributed to us coming to Southeastern. I did my first two years of seminary at Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York and then transferred to Southeastern after we had our first child. We wanted to go to a Baptist seminary, but stay near the East Coast where our families are. The cost of living and tuition were also factors.

Q: What was your most influential moment at Southeastern?

A: I was in Dr. Mark Liederbach’s Marriage and Family class, and I asked him why I was having a hard time getting my family to follow my lead. He answered that, in his experience, it was usually because the husband was not leading well. He opened my eyes to the fact that I was failing to lead my home in Christlikeness. That was an important moment for me as it caused me to meditate on Scripture, pray and get more serious about leading my home by example.

Q: What is the greatest joy that you have as a pastor?

A: It’s encouraging for me to watch the people in our church grow and be well grounded in Christ and then share Christ with the community.

Q: What challenges do you face as a pastor?

A: Finding the right balance between studying Scripture, preparing to preach and teach, and interacting with people.

Q: What advice do you have for current and future pastors?

A: Make prayer and dependence on God a priority for every aspect of your life. Also, care for your wife, and make sure she is united with you in ministry plans, especially if you’re planting a church. Let your wife be the first one to know and follow you to your ministry opportunity. Additionally, while you are student at Southeastern, find a local church, become a member, submit to leadership and serve the body.

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

A: Any free time I have I spend with my wife and kids. There isn’t time for much else, but I love it!

Q: What was your favorite class or professor at Southeastern?

A: One of my most memorable classes was Greek with Dr. Lanier. I also loved my classes that I did through my internship program at Open Door.

Q: What is one book that everyone should read?

A: I have to say “When People Are Big and God Is Small” by Ed Welch. This book was critical for me because it caused me to reflect on my relationships with people and God. It made me to evaluate how I respond to people and how to love them with Christlikeness.

Q: What has God been teaching you lately?

A: If I do not feed well on the Word of God, the sheep that I pastor and the people I meet are not going to feed well on the Word of God.

Q: Southeastern is known as a Great Commission seminary, how did Southeastern prepare you to be a Great Commission pastor?

A: The best preparation I was given to become a church planter and pastor came from what is now called the EQUIP program. Through the hands-on training I had at Open Door during my time at Southeastern my desire grew to plant healthy churches. Between Southeastern’s passion for the Great Commission and the influence of a healthy church like Open Door, I was not only led to be a church planter, I was led to be a shepherd.

I would encourage all Southeastern students to take advantage of internships and other hands-on experiences as much as possible.

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