Helping Others Fulfill the Great Commission: An Interview with Keelan Cook

by CGCS Staff

Fourth up for our introductions is Keelan Cook. Professor Cook serves alongside our Director and Associate Director as the Coordinator of Diaspora Missions and Evangelism. He also serves as the Senior Church Consultant with the Union Baptist Association in Houston, TX. Professor Cook’s primary focus is challenging students to see the unprecedented Great Commission opportunities in North American missions today. Keep reading below to learn more.

If we’re the Great Commission seminary, and every classroom is a Great Commission classroom, then it just makes sense for every student to supplement their equipping by taking part in mission trips and the many training opportunities provided.
— Keelan Cook

How did God call you into ministry and into the vocation of teaching?

Leaving college, I did not intend on serving in vocational ministry. However, shortly after college I really rooted into a local church that changed my whole understanding of ministry. The Spirit worked through that church family to shape me into a minister for our college students and eventually into an international missionary, serving with the IMB to help facilitate our church's engagement with an unreached people group in West Africa. Overseas, I developed a love for church planting and taking the gospel to people who have not yet heard it. God eventually brought me to Southeastern to receive further theological equipping, and it was here that I developed a love for teaching and equipping potential ministers. 

How did you arrive at SEBTS?

I decided to attend Southeastern to complete a PhD while I was serving with the IMB in West Africa. After my time there, I moved to campus and stumbled into a journey that would change my trajectory in ministry. Before long, I was working in the CGCS and learning everything I could about the significance of urban and diaspora missions for the North American church. Southeastern's emphasis on the Great Commission shaped my overall direction in studies and also led to my current service in Houston. Now,  I help a whole network of churches work to fulfill the Great Commission together through sending and multiplication.

What excites you most about the CGCS?

The CGCS is one of my favorite things about Southeastern, and it’s one that I think every student at the school should utilize. I think a lot of students assume the CGCS is only for people getting some form of missions degree, but that's not true at all. Every, single student, whether on campus or at a distance, can take advantage of the resources offered by the CGCS. If we're the Great Commission seminary, and every classroom is a Great Commission classroom, then it just makes sense for every student to supplement their equipping by taking part in mission trips and the many training opportunities provided.

What advice would you give to new students at SEBTS?

Christ died for the church, not the seminary. That may sound like too sharp a distinction, but I would hope to impress upon students that seminary is in no way a replacement for the local church, even while you are studying. Seminary is best when it is a supplement to your discipleship and ministry in the local church. If you're not actively applying what you learn in the classroom to service in a local church while you're here, you're missing the most significant equipping you can receive. That's the beauty of this new emphasis on distance education. I'm thankful that students now have the ability to stay in their mission or ministry context in the local church and still receive quality equipping. And for those students moving to campus for a residential experience, landing in and covenanting with a local church while in the Wake Forest area is just as important.

Who's your favorite missionary and/or favorite missions quote?

I'll leave you with three quotes. It's so hard to choose.

  • “The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” — Samuel Zwemer

  • “The Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time." — Carl F. H. Henry

  • “The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.” — Henry Martyn