We asked 35 Christian leaders, “Who is the influencer with the biggest impact on your life and ministry?” Most of these leaders listed several influential thinkers, writers, innovators, and leaders more of us should get to know. This response is from Mike Baker, senior pastor with Eastview Christian Church, Normal, Illinois.
Two men have helped me think both as a Christian and a pastor for nearly 25 years. Both Cal Jernigan, senior pastor at Central Christian Church of Mesa, Arizona, and J.K. Jones, pastor of spiritual formation at Eastview Christian Church, Normal, Illinois, have impacted my thinking in great ways.
J.K. Jones has been a friend, mentor, teacher, and now a member of the staff God has blessed me with at Eastview. He has a unique way of asking questions that get to the spiritual reality deep in my heart. Mostly, we laugh, pray, and trash talk both theology and baseball. I owe much of my spirituality and preaching to my friend Dr. Jones.
Cal Jernigan has also been crucial in helping me become a better thinker as a pastor. Our ministry journeys have mirrored each other from a distance over the last quarter century, taking us from youth ministry novices to our current roles as senior pastors. We, along with our wives, have traveled many miles together (both literally and spiritually) and Cal has always challenged my thinking by refreshingly disagreeing with me.
Truthfully, our personalities, upbringing, and experiences couldn’t be more opposite, which means we often see ministry differently. But many intense, friendly debates over the years have challenged me to think better and have sharpened me greatly.
In short, these two men make me think: one about who I am spiritually and the other about who I am pastorally.