Staff Q&A with Keelan Cook

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Keelan CookKeelan Cook is the Urban Resource Coordinator for the Center for Great Commission Studies at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). He shares about his call to ministry and how he helps equip students and local churches to minister to different people groups in their neighborhoods.

1. Tell us about yourself.

I am originally from rural Tennessee, and I’m an only child. I was blessed with godly parents who raised me in the faith. I did my undergraduate work at Union University in advertising and public relations. It was a really formative experience for me, helping me better understand my faith. Right after I graduated, I got some experience leading an informal college ministry while I was working in marketing. Through that experience, the Lord called me to ministry and missions. Eventually, I went to West Africa to be a missionary after finishing a master’s degree in Christian Studies at Union.

2. How did you come to SEBTS?

While I was in Africa, I felt compelled to go back to school. I wanted to do a Ph.D. in order to be equipped to teach others—not necessarily in the classroom—to live on mission in their own communities. So, I came to Southeastern to work on my Ph.D. After coming here as a student, I got a job here at the school and started pastoring in my local church, Imago Dei. 

3. What do you do at SEBTS?

My title is “Urban Resource Coordinator” in the Center for Great Commission studies here at the seminary. But if someone asks me what I do at Southeastern, I typically tell them I do research about missions, and that I teach and train students and local churches how to be effective at reaching the nations, specifically people from other nations in their communities. 

4. On what are you currently working?

I’ve got two or three projects going on right now. The big one I’m working on right now is the Peoples Next Door project. It is an ongoing research project we’ve been working on for four or five years now. The whole purpose of it is to research the migration of different people groups to the U.S. so we can equip the church to minister to them.

5. What have you been reading recently?

I’ve been reading through Dr. Russell Moore’s “Onward” bit by bit. I’m also reading Ed Stetzer’s updated “Planting Missional Churches” book and J.D. Payne’s “Apostolic Church Planting.”

6. When you get home from work, what do you look forward to doing? (What are your other passions?)

I really enjoy kayaking or hiking. I’m a pretty outdoorsy-type of person. My fiancée and I also enjoy the occasional TV show on Netflix. 

7. Who are your role models?

My parents for sure. I have really godly parents, and they have just been a gift from the Lord my whole life. They are how I learned how to be a Christian and all that that means. I consistently look at my dad. He’s a factory worker, and has been for the last 25 years. He teaches Sunday school, organizes the bus ministry at the church and more. 

Also, a role model for me is Paul Orin. He is hands-down the best missionary I have ever met in my life. We worked together in Africa. He and his wife just retired from the mission field after being in Africa for 25 years. I got to watch him and learn a lot from him while I was there. 

8. What has God been teaching you lately? 

As I get closer to marriage, I’ve learned the importance of being selfless, for sure. Also, the Lord taught me a lot through attending the Southern Baptist Convention this year, just about church cooperation. Finally, the Lord has been teaching me a lot about the mission of God in Scripture. 

9. If a prospective student asked you, “Why Southeastern?” what would you say? 

I truly believe it’s the best seminary in the country. Our “slogan” is that every classroom is a Great Commission classroom, but these people on campus really mean it.  That’s encouraging to see. This seminary equips people for the Great Commission. 

10. How does your position fit into the mission of Southeastern to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission?

I just equip students and local churches to be disciple-makers and fulfill the Great Commission in their everyday lives.

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