Seasoned missionary J. Keith McKinley joins Southern Seminary faculty

Communications Staff — May 30, 2019

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has hired J. Keith McKinley, a seasoned missionary and veteran of the International Mission Board to its faculty, announced President R. Albert Mohler Jr. today. McKinley has been involved with missions with the IMB for more than 20 years, and he joins the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry as Associate Professor of Christian Missions. McKinley comes from a rich family heritage of missions. His father, Jim McKinley, was an IMB missionary in Bangladesh for 34 years.

“I am really pleased that we were able to announce the appointment of Keith McKinley to our faculty. Keith is a veteran missionary and a scholarly missiologist,” Mohler said. “His decades of service on the mission field will be invaluable as he teaches a new generation of students and both prepares and inspires them for courageous Great Commission service around the world. This continues Southern Seminary’s long tradition and historic role in the worldwide missionary effort. Keith McKinley comes from a famous family of missionaries in Southern Baptist life. He is truly a son of the mission field. I had the honor of knowing his father, the late Jim McKinley, who was one of the iconic missionaries among Southern Baptists in the 20th century. I am very excited that Keith McKinley will be in the classroom, and he comes directly from his many years of distinguished service on the mission field. This is a great day for Southern Seminary, Southern Baptists, and the cause of missions in the next generation.”

McKinley is returning to the city of Louisville, where he earned a bachelor of health science at the University of Louisville in 1993, followed by a master of divinity (1999) and a doctor of philosophy (2015) from Southern Seminary.

“My wife, Gail, and I are excited to be part of the Southern community,” McKinley said. “Southern has always held a special place in our hearts. My father was a Southern graduate and our good friends, Dr. John Polhill, Dr. Phillip Landgrave, and Dr. Bryant Hicks, all taught here for many years. Joining Southern feels like coming home to us. Our desire is to kindle and nurture an abiding passion for missions among all members of the Southern Seminary community and beyond.”

McKinley brings with him an expert-level understanding of strategic missiological thinking. He spent his first five years with the IMB as a church planter before transitioning to missions strategy. As of 2017, he was an innovation specialist with the IMB, a leadership role unique to Southeast Asia that allowed McKinley to advise team leaders on the field. Previously, he was a cluster strategy leader, which meant he was responsible for 15-20 missionary units. Before joining the IMB in 1998, McKinley was a pastor at First Baptist Church in Eastwood, Kentucky.

He has also contributed articles on leadership and church planting to various overseas publications. Provost Matthew J. Hall said McKinley’s life on the mission field has uniquely prepared him for his new role training the next wave of missionaries and overseas church planters.

“Southern Seminary has, since its founding, been a Great Commission seminary, committed to the task of equipping and mobilizing those God would call for global mission. Dr. Keith McKinley’s appointment to this faculty underscores the high stewardship of that calling and our ambition of leveraging all we can so that the nations would hear and be glad,” said Hall.

“Dr. McKinley has spent most of his life on the mission field and one has only to spend a short time with him to tell that he is passionate about the missiological task and its urgency. I am so pleased that he is coming home to Louisville, and to Southern Seminary, to teach and train the next generation of pastors, missionaries, and ministers for faithfulness to Christ’s charge.”

Timothy K. Beougher, the acting dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, echoed Hall’s enthusiasm for the hire.

“Keith McKinley knows missions, both in theory and practice,” Beougher said. “He has served as a missionary and team leader for others. His leadership skills are exemplary. He also knows Southern Seminary as a two-time graduate. We are thrilled to have him in the classroom training the next generation of missionaries and missions-minded pastors.”

Paul Akin, the new dean of the Billy Graham School, highlighted McKinley’s extensive experience working with Muslims as a unique feature of his teaching ministry.

“I’m so excited for Dr. McKinley to be joining the missions faculty in the Graham School. He brings more than 20 years of experience with the IMB across Southeast Asia where he worked planting churches and training leaders in predominantly Muslim contexts. The fact that he is coming directly from the mission field will be a tremendous asset in helping train the next generation of Southern Baptists missionaries.”

McKinley has been married to his wife, Gail, for nearly 30 years, and they have four children together.

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