Combining Scholarship and Ministry in Reno

For recent Northern graduate Brandon Evans, being a student and scholar of the Word is a lifelong endeavor. When Evans first enrolled in seminary, his goal was to enter the academy as a scholar. Instead, he says, “I had a growing call to the local church and opted to pursue pastoral ministry.” During his first year of vocational ministry, he discovered Northern Seminary’s DMin in New Testament Context program. “It was the perfect bridge between scholarship and ministry—academically rigorous and applicable for my local congregation. I applied as soon as I could.”

The church context where Evans serves is not short on challenges. After six years in vocational ministry, he is currently the lead pastor of Reno Christian Fellowship in Reno, Nevada. “Despite its sordid reputation, Reno is a fast-growing high desert gem nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains,” he says. “Yet the spiritual climate in Northern Nevada is a cold one.” According to Barna research, Reno is currently the second most unchurched city, the eighth most dechurched city, and the 18th most “post-Christian” city in the U.S. “However,” Evans says, “in the face of these statistics, the opportunities for revival are endless.”

As he leads Reno Christian Fellowship, Evans has found his DMin studies extremely practical. “Honestly, everything I’ve learned at Northern has factored into my ministry in one way, shape, or form. I did my thesis in apocalyptic literature, which has enabled me to teach Daniel and Revelation with more clarity and understanding. During the DMin seminars at Northern, we covered topics like hell, sexuality, and race, each of which has translated into a greater depth of teaching in my ministry. On top of this, we explored hermeneutical and theological methods, which have affected every aspect of my teaching ministry.”

A few other highlights from the program also stand out for Evans. “The first that comes to mind is the late-night discussions with my DMin cohort about life and ministry. Second, the focused time in our seminars learning from our brilliant and passionate scholars. And third, exploring Chicago with my cohort certainly was a treat.”

Another feature, which Evans calls “an unexpected blessing,” is that his cohort has been made up of people from various traditions, each representing a different denomination or church network. “As a result, my appreciation for both the diversity and unity of our faith has widened.”

Following his completion of the program, Evans says he plans to “continue teaching the Word with the posture of a student.” As he continues to apply what he’s learned, it will benefit his congregation and beyond. “My degree may have been terminal, but my education is not. I also hope to publish sometime in the future. For now, I’m soaking in my experience at Northern and enjoying the fruits of my studies.”


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