Love the People, Love the Mission: Carrying the Southeastern DNA to New England
Chad Burchett | June 06, 2022
Originally from Athens, Georgia, Lauren Pratt chose to study at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) because she desired to better communicate the gospel cross-culturally and because she was confident she would receive that kind of training at SEBTS. To develop these skills, Pratt enrolled in the Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies program in 2017 and recently graduated on May 13, 2022.
During her time at SEBTS, Pratt worked as the News and Information Specialist in the Office of Marketing and Communications, curating SEBTS events and stories to retell how the SEBTS community is pursuing faithfulness to the Great Commission. Pratt now works for a public relations firm based in Boston, MA. As she plans to move to Boston, Pratt hopes to apply her SEBTS training through missional living in one of the least churched cities in America.
In the following Q&A, Pratt takes time to share her Southeastern story:
Why did you decide to come to Southeastern?
I decided to pursue a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies because I’ve always been drawn to learning how to better communicate the gospel in diverse contexts. As I’ve continued to pursue this degree, the Lord has shown me how helpful building a theological foundation is for my faith. In pursuing this degree, the Lord has continued to draw my heart to live in an urban, North American context. Classes like Cross Cultural Communication, Anthropology, and Contextualization were important classes that shaped how I viewed ministry in a diverse context like this where so many nations are represented.
What aspects of working, studying, and living at Southeastern were particularly formative or encouraging to you?
My favorite parts of working and studying at Southeastern have been building community with coworkers and classmates. Living and working at Southeastern solidified for me that its mission and its message match. I’ve also been deeply encouraged by the way my professors have taken theological concepts and brought them down to real life. I can think of many professors who would share stories from their time in pastoral ministry or as a missionary in the U.S., sometimes with tears in their eyes, recounting the challenges and triumphs they’d experienced in real ministry with real people. I’ve seen professors get choked up as they teach on a theological concept or biblical insight because it was so real to them.
How did your time at Southeastern shape your view of the Great Commission?
Southeastern helped me to pursue the Great Commission with my head, heart, and hands. While taking classes, I appreciated the way I learned theories and biblical principles but then was challenged to make application of those ideas. My classmates and I often had to work through case studies and come up with our own solutions, which was extremely practical for me. Southeastern also encouraged me to internalize the Great Commission for myself through going on mission trips and serving in my local church. I also feel like some of the best times of spiritual formation for me was when my friends and I could talk though the concepts we were learning in class and how the Lord was teaching us through this unique seminary season.
Southeastern helped me to pursue the Great Commission with my head, heart, and hands.
In what ways have you seen theological education and ministry preparation go hand in hand while a student?
When I first moved to the RDU area, I had the privilege of spending time every week with a refugee family from Afghanistan. A friend and I would spend 2-3 hours a week chatting over piping hot tea and cookies, helping with English lessons, playing with the kids, and learning about the family’s life back in Central Asia. We even had a couple of opportunities to share meals for Ramadan with a couple families in the neighborhood. It was in those moments that I most tangibly saw why what I learned in seminary mattered. The academic journey grew me in my knowledge of God through his word and then gave me the practical tools to apply it in real life with real people.
I’ve also seen this play out in how my theological education has challenged my thinking about the local church — in structure and practice. I remember my Theology II professor helping me to think critically about what I really believed the Bible said about the church’s identity and practice — essentially, what it means to be a healthy church. Taking the time to critically think through doctrines like ecclesiology has shaped me as I plan on moving to Boston to join a church plant this summer.
Where do you hope to work/serve now that you have graduated?
Recently, the Lord opened up an opportunity to work for a public relations firm based in Boston. This was a huge answer to prayer as I was praying through what it would look like for me to live and do ministry in Boston. Not only is the Lord providing a platform for me to come alongside the local church in Boston, but also he’s allowing me to have a position within the city that provides opportunities to work alongside people who may not have a relationship with Christ. In regard to church ministry, I want to disciple college students and send them out to be on mission wherever God calls them. College is such a critical period for students to figure out who they are and what they want to be, and it’s a time where the Lord can literally redefine the direction of their lives. I want to be able to walk with students through that critical time of life.
Not only is the Lord providing a platform for me to come alongside the local church in Boston, but also he’s allowing me to have a position within the city that provides opportunities to work alongside people who may not have a relationship with Christ.
How has Southeastern informed the way you think about writing and marketing?
One thing I loved about working in Southeastern’s Office of Marketing and Communications was the way it taught me to view marketing and copywriting through a ministry lens. Everything I wrote — whether it was copy for an ad, a story about one of our graduates, or a press release about the school — everything pointed to training students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission. Southeastern challenged me to think critically about what I believed and be able to articulate my arguments more clearly though writing position papers and expositions of Bible passages. Researching and writing for my classes exposed some of the weaknesses in my positions and strengthened my understanding of theological issues. Assignments like that have set me up well for future ministry, and I’m so grateful.
What excites you about living “on mission” and serving alongside a church plant in Boston?
I’m just really excited to join this new church family and live on mission in Boston. I’m excited for the opportunity to disciple the next generation of believers, and I’m excited to be able to work in a job that allows me to regularly interact with people who don’t think like me. I just want to build genuine friendships that point people to Christ. Boston is one of the least churched cities in the country, and I want to move to the city expecting the Lord to do some incredible work, not only in others but also in my own heart as he challenges me to trust him in new ways. I remember asking a church planter in Boston, “How do you know if someone is a good fit for this city?” His answer was simple: “You’ll do well in Boston if you learn to love this city and the people who live here.” That’s the kind of person I want to be — not someone going in with an agenda but someone who just genuinely loves people and wants them to know the joy and hope that come from knowing Christ.
That’s the kind of person I want to be — not someone going in with an agenda but someone who just genuinely loves people and wants them to know the joy and hope that come from knowing Christ.
How can the Southeastern community be praying for you?
At a very basic level, I have some fears about living in a city. I’m a girl who grew up in the southern suburbs, so living in a city like Boston will be different for me on several levels. I would appreciate prayer that the Lord would grow my love for the city and the people of Boston. Please pray that I will establish deep relationships in a new local church family. Pray also that the Lord would give me friendships at work and open doors to talk about what I believe genuinely and unashamedly.