By: Keelan Cook
I work with the Union Baptist Association (UBA) in Houston as a consultant with an emphasis on urban mission strategy. This is a brand new position for me. Prior to this, I served at Southeastern in the Center for Great Commission Studies where I coordinated urban missions research. Now, I get the opportunity to practice urban missions in one of the most diverse settings on the planet. My wife and I packed up and moved out here four months ago, and so far the experience has been a testimony to God's grace.
I have known the team at UBA for a long time now and am thankful for their labor here in Houston. My role is a work in progress, but I will be aiding in a number of initiatives in Houston that are very close to my heart. A portion of my work will be dedicated to urban research and the development of healthy missiological methods and tools for church planting and revitalization in Houston’s diverse urban areas. I will be training and consulting churches for this unique task, helping them think through church health, local planting and global sending.
From my perspective, Houston is one of the most strategic cities for urban missions in the United States. First, it is growing rapidly. In fact, it is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. and will most likely pass Chicago in coming years as our third largest city. Second, that growth is not just any growth. Much of Houston’s growth is made up of radically diverse populations of peoples from all over the world. Hundreds of people groups call this one metro area home, making it one of the most diverse cities in the U.S. The nations are living in Houston. Finally, Houston does have healthy churches. Of course, no one church can reach a city. And when it is a city the size of Houston, the effort is magnified exponentially. For the church universal to make a dent in Houston’s lostness, it will take a cooperative effort of local churches working together to plant more churches in a diverse cross-section of cultural manifestations. Houston needs churches in dozens of languages with dozens of cultural expressions of the gospel.
I am especially excited about the opportunity to help local churches in Houston think about what it means to find and engage unreached people groups in their own city. There may be no better place than Houston for local churches to take the gospel to the nations and their neighbors at the same time.
Pray with us that God’s name will be known, his grace accepted and his will obeyed among the multitudes of Houston and to the ends of the earth.
Encouragement for students and alumni:
● Go. If I only had one piece of advice for students and alumni alike, it would be that. Going is hard, especially when it means leaving the kind of setting that Southeastern provides, but it is what we are called to do. Those of us blessed to be part of the Southeastern family have been given a rare gift from God. Few pastors, missionaries and church leaders in the two-thousand-year history of the church have benefited from the wealth of training we have received. We have been given much, and that comes with a weighty stewardship. Do not settle for comfort. Aim for God’s glory.
● And as you are going, love the church along the way. That means being involved now in committed service to your church. Learn more from your local church than you do your classes. When you leave, leave well. Your church should be a part of your going. In fact, they should be sending you. That means they should have say in where and how you go. Finally, love the church wherever you go. God gave the Great Commission to the church, not to individuals. You can serve Christ in no better way than serving his church in her mission.