A Place at the Table: Gospel Intentionality in the Southeastern Community
Chad Burchett | February 03, 2023
Before Jesus ascended to the Father, he gave his newly united and redeemed people a mission that would require his presence, the power of his Spirit, and the prayer and participation of the whole Church. Jesus’s Great Commission is a mission for all his disciples, who labor side by side in loving, sacrificial community. That is why Southeastern is committed to training Great Commission students in a vibrant community marked by Christ-like love, service, and mission.
Southeastern’s students not only share this common mission but also share the rhythms of everyday life, praying for, supporting, and discipling one another toward Christ and his mission. This semester, Southeastern will be telling their stories, sharing how they have been shaped by and are shaping Southeastern’s Great Commission community.
In 2015, Devin Moncada and his wife Evan moved from Pineville, Louisiana, to Wake Forest, North Carolina, for Devin to finish his Advanced Master of Divinity degree. Shaped by professors, neighbors, and classmates, the Moncadas decided for Devin to continue his studies at Southeastern and is currently pursuing a PhD in Old Testament while working on campus and pastoring locally. Committed to live on mission in all of life, Devin and Evan and their two kids have made their home a hub for discipling community. For the Moncadas, Great Commission community begins with everyday gospel intentionality.
When the Moncadas moved into Southeastern housing, they did not realize just how much a small front yard, an open door, and a dinner table would create a vibrant space for discipleship and community in their neighborhood. What they did know was that God had called them to live life on mission and to steward even the smallest blessings to encourage others toward Christ.
When they got married, Devin and Evan began to develop a vision of life in Christ that focused on leveraging everyday things — like a yard, a home, and a table — with gospel intentionality. They brought this mindset to their campus community and found more opportunities than they had imagined to integrate others into their daily rhythms of discipleship.
“We believe that everything we do with gospel intentionality has a ripple effect,” shared Evan. “That’s why this home and our dinner table have been some of the most effective tools for loving our Southeastern neighbors, facilitating gospel conversations with our Wake Forest neighbors, and building relationships with people who aren’t believers.”
We believe that everything we do with gospel intentionality has a ripple effect.
“We really try to use our home as a space where people can consistently come over and where we are able to just be a part of one another’s lives, talking about what is going on in our lives and what struggles and joys we are experiencing,” shared Devin. “The proximity to neighbors, to many families from church, and to people in the community has been so helpful for ministry during this season of training.”
For the Moncadas, being intentional with their interactions and opening their home has enabled them to build gospel friendships and tangibly love others.
“Broader community involvement for us looks like having gospel conversations as we meet and befriend people in the community — often through our children — whether it’s at the park or the public library,” noted Evan. “As we develop friendships, we invite people over because our home is a tool that the Lord has given us to show people that they matter.”
“We have also reestablished the concept of just ‘dropping in’ in our neighborhood,” added Evan. “People know that if they see our door open on good weather days, they can just come in. We love inviting people in and building relationships.”
This organic approach to ministry has been reinforced throughout the Moncada’s time at Southeastern as they have experienced life in a sacrificial community of fellow students and families.
“What we have seen here at Southeastern is that community involvement doesn’t have to be programmatic,” noted Evan. “Every one of our neighbors has something going on, and being aware of people, looking out the window, and knocking on doors have been the best and most organic ways we’ve been involved in our Southeastern community.”
In many ways, the Moncada’s intentional gospel community is a reflection of the love they have received from Devin’s Southeastern professors, who have modeled a similar kind of organic everyday investment in others.
“Dr. Hardy and his family have brought us meals when we’ve been sick,” shared Evan. “He’s driven out to the hospital when we’ve been there, and he’s brought us food and just been there to talk with and encourage Devin. That wasn’t our expectation for a professor, but he and others have just gone above and beyond to show our whole family care in different ways, which is an amazing testament to the culture here at Southeastern.”
“This culture of loving community is evident from the top down,” added Evan. “Even the Akins have been so intentional and kind to us with Mrs. Akin constantly asking about our kids, bringing us meals, and going out of the way to care for us.”
For Devin, professors like Chip Hardy have also mentored him and shown him that academic formation must be wed with spiritual formation that expresses itself in love.
“My professors like Dr. Hardy have shown me that love will help you be a good teacher, and it is what Christ has called us to,” commented Devin. “If you love students, you will not only care for them enough to design and teach your class well and ensure they feel seen and understood but also care for their whole person by praying for them, walking with them through different situations, and valuing them as disciples of Christ and not as a report in your grading system.”
My professors like Dr. Hardy have shown me that love will help you be a good teacher, and it is what Christ has called us to.
This approach to education as an experience of Christ-like love has also created a close-knit community in Devin’s doctoral seminars at Southeastern.
“I have found some of my best friends in the PhD program at Southeastern,” noted Devin. “We have a really tight group of guys who are studying with Dr. Hardy and who get together often. They push me to do better, they encourage me when I feel like an imposter, and they pray for me and what I have going on even as we confess sin to one another. The camaraderie in the doctoral program is intimate and a lot of fun.”
In recent years, the Moncadas have begun to see the global impact of their relationships in the Southeastern community. Through Southeastern’s Great Commission community, Devin has been able to travel on mission with his classmates, and now many of the Moncada’s friends have moved overseas to share the gospel around the world.
“Through Southeastern one of my friends in the PhD program and I had the opportunity to go to Columbia in 2019 to teach the Old Testament and partner with a local church to train pastors and the local congregation,” recalled Devin. “We’ve also built relationships with so many people at Southeastern who are now overseas on mission in Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Africa, and India. We get to pray for our Southeastern friends around the world, pray for their people groups, and even partner with them.”
“Southeastern has been formative in helping us see what it looks like to be in partnership with churches overseas and what it looks like to invest in your local church,” added Devin.
Southeastern has been formative in helping us see what it looks like to be in partnership with churches overseas and what it looks like to invest in your local church.
In 2021, Devin became a pastor at Imago Dei Church in Raleigh; however, not much changed about the Moncada’s practice of community and everyday ministry. Because they were already living in a community marked by gospel intentionality, Devin’s new responsibilities often simply meant more people to love across the table in their home.
“We follow exactly the same model of ministry for much of our church involvement: We do all of our membership interviews, premarital counseling, and discipleship here at our dinner table,” added Devin. “We are uniquely accessible to many in our church family because we live at Southeastern. So many church members under our care go to Southeastern or live in Wake Forest, and I even get to work and connect with some of them around campus.”
Integrating their work life, ministry life, student life, and home life has proven to be an unlooked-for blessing of being involved in the Southeastern community. Because they live in a Great Commission community that places a premium on caring and loving others toward Christ, the Moncadas have each been uniquely shaped by Southeastern.
“It can be easy to compartmentalize your education if you do seminary at a distance, but when you live and study and even work in and around a community like this one, your whole life is shaped and changed,” observed Evan. “You can’t compartmentalize your whole life. That’s why our children and I have been so blessed and shaped by Southeastern even though we aren’t students.”
“We would not be changed into the type of people we are today without the Southeastern community,” reflected Devin.