Alumni Profile: Jared Baker S’08 G’08
Reflecting on his time at North Park Theological Seminary, Jared Baker S’08 G’08 values the foundational teaching he received in theology, the Bible, leadership, business practices, and ministry skills. These are the things he applies in daily ministry, both in front of a congregation and behind the scenes. Jared completed a dual degree program with a master of arts in Christian formation (MACF) and a master of business administration (MBA). He now serves with his wife, Hannah, as a full-time missionary in Europe through the Evangelical Covenant Church’s World Mission.
“I chose the Christian formation degree because I felt that it covered a wide range of ministry classes. I found the MACF helpful in discerning what realms of ministry I enjoyed and felt engaged with,” Jared said.
“As for the MBA, I believe that, as leaders, pastors should be familiar with some basic business concepts,” he added. “In my experience, there are people in church leadership who speak the 'business' language and others who speak the 'ministry' language—and they do not always understand one another. Yet both have a place and are important in the life of the church, and I think it is advantageous for a pastor to be able to help facilitate communication.”
Following seminary, Jared and Hannah spent three-and-a-half years in Antwerp, Belgium, at the Antwerp International Protestant Church, where Jared first served as the pastor to youth and families. In their final year there, Jared was the interim senior pastor for the congregation.
Jared’s dual-degree program provided a foundation from which he was able to address both the joys and challenges of full-time ministry, and also gave him the skills he needs to be able to keep building on that foundation as he progresses in his vocation.
“In seminary, I learned how to read Scripture exegetically and responsibly, I learned how to really think theologically, and I learned some practical skills like conflict mediation and how to lead a Bible study,” he said.
“As far as challenges go, I am not sure that any classroom setting can fully prepare a person for the challenges in ministry,” Jared added. “There are some things that help, like taking a leadership class that specifically addresses things like conflict in the church. I think that the internship experience can give a glimpse into the reality of the challenges of ministry. Many pastors learn to deal with challenges on the job, while using the foundational skills learned in seminary.”
North Park Theological Seminary also helped Jared to develop a community of friends and colleagues that have continued to support each other through their various calls to ministry. “One of the most important things that happened outside the classroom was getting to know my future colleagues in ministry,” he said. “I am very fortunate to be a part of a group of guys who have kept up with each other after seminary. Even though we are miles apart we try to be intentional about praying for one another and sharing both the joys and difficulties in our personal lives and in ministry.”
“I firmly believe that you need colleagues in ministry who you can be open and honest with, people who will celebrate when something awesome happens and who will help and support you when things are not going well,” Jared said. “Seminary gave me those colleagues and friends.”
Following a time of home assignment, the Bakers are heading back to Europe in August 2014 to serve in Marseille, France, at a French Evangelical Covenant Church. Jared will also use his MBA skills to take on administrative and bookkeeping tasks for Covenant World Mission’s regional coordinators for Europe and Africa.
“I learned a lot at North Park, and I have learned a lot in the mission field,” Jared said. “Both of these experiences have been vital and important to my development as a pastor.”