You probably think many DTS students come to study God’s Word to go into ministry. But what about those who God has already placed in leadership and who are looking to expand their knowledge so they can effectively do what God has called them to do? For some of the students who study at DTS’s mobile sites, learning God’s Word looks different. Some have a family to take care of, many work full-time jobs, and they do all of it while they study at DTS.
Kevin Perry is the worship arts pastor at Fellowship Bible Church of Rutherford County in Tennessee. He is also part of the worship team for Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live events that travels all over the country.
Ten years ago, Kevin began transitioning out of a vocation in the music business to full-time ministry. He desired more equipping and training for the new direction in his life, and it so happened that the DTS-Nashville mobile site was starting up just thirty minutes from where he lives. “I have so many friends in ministry who had a positive experience attending DTS—it made it an easy decision.”
One of the things he has learned about studying at DTS-Nashville is that it’s more than just watching a video class on a computer. From the Superweeks to the hybrid classes to the impromptu dinners with staff, “DTS has done a great job of connecting relationally with me as a mobile student. I have grown to feel like I’m part of the DTS community.”
For Kevin, the hardest part about being in seminary involves balancing his studies with home and family life. Two years ago his four-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. “That was an incredibly difficult season learning to live and cope with the disease. Then one year ago our third daughter was born, which was a wonderful surprise. I never thought I would be changing diapers and doing homework at forty-three years old! When I graduate, I will most likely sit in the audience and let my wife and daughters walk across the stage. It is truly a family effort—going back to school. Through the years, they have worked together to allow me to take the extra time to study during the week.”
We spoke with Kevin to learn a little about how he manages his home, his musical career, and his spiritual walk. Here’s how Kevin studies at DTS.
One word that best describes how you regularly study: Frantically
Current mobile device: iPhone
Current computer: MacBook Pro
What apps, software, tools can’t you study without? I love the Logos Bible Software. I had been building a library for many years and was ecstatic when DTS announced they would be giving students the Logos resources. I take class notes right in Logos, and I will have those notes forever attached to my commentaries and Bible references.
What’s your study space setup like? Coffee shop with laptop and headphones? Home office with a desk? Or the library? I like to write papers in my church office at my desk. But oddly enough, I like watching class videos in public places, like coffee shops or libraries.
What’s your best time-saving shortcut or study hack? I have often stood on the shoulders of those who have gone before me with some of the online study apps like Studyblue or Quizlet. For most classes at DTS, you can find study guides already inputted and formatted by former students. I have contributed and tweaked a few myself, but it is always helpful to get a head start on some of the lengthier exam guides.
What’s your favorite commentary that you constantly use for your papers at DTS? The Bible Knowledge Commentary usually shows up somewhere in my papers.
Besides your phone and computer, what gadget or tool can’t you live without and why? I love my Bose noise canceling headphones! No matter where I am, I can have a quiet and peaceful study space. They are incredible for getting work done on an airplane.
How do you really feel about Turabian? It isn’t as scary as I thought it would be when I first started seminary. I confess to some “footnote pride” these days, especially after I finish formatting a well-crafted paper.
What class have you enjoyed the most? Why? I have enjoyed them all, but my first theology class with Dr. Kreider and first Bible exposition class with Dr. Allman were so impactful. After being out of school for seventeen years, I was beyond grateful to have the opportunity to be in seminary. Those first classes “blew my mind” and left me excited for what was to come.
What do you listen to while you study? Got a favorite playlist? Maybe talk radio? Or do you prefer silence? I need silence.
What are you currently reading? The Church by Edmund Clowney, Mixed Ministry by Sue Edwards, Possessed by God by David Peterson, Extreme Leadership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, Life Together by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and The Myth of Uncertainty by Daniel Taylor.
What’s a book you might recommend for those who are beginning their studies at DTS? I think a helpful book would be one that helps think through and refine your productivity, such as Getting Things Done by David Allen.
What is the most important thing you do to strengthen your Christian faith? For me, it is constantly examining my boundaries between work and rest. I can tend to be a workaholic, so I need to be aware of how the healthy rhythms of life are doing and how that is affecting both my family and me. If I am overdoing it, that usually says something about the state of my heart and my relationship with God.
How do you recharge? As an introvert who recharges on alone time, I actually get energized having time to study. But I desperately need date nights with my wife! I also love unwinding at home wrestling or just being goofy with my three girls.
What’s your sleep routine like? Are you a night owl or early-riser? I used to be a night owl, but children changed that. With an 11-month old, I sleep whenever I can get it. Ha!
What is the most important thing you do to develop yourself as a leader? I find it most important to remind myself that leadership is about service. I try and approach my leadership in the church as always serving the body of Christ. I also have been learning the importance of serving in ways that are not in the norm for me. Whether it is a prison ministry or serving at a local school, I am finding how healthy and helpful it is for me to lead things outside of my usual music ministry within the church.
Who is the best leader (or mentor) you have ever sat under and why? I would have to say my father. He is a retired pastor who ministered for over 50 years. At 83 years old, he is incredibly prayerful. He was recently telling me how he has enjoyed waking at 4 am just to pray. He is also very even keel. He has no doubt through many hard things in a life of ministry, but seems to remain so steady and unflappable. He also happens to be the most generous person I have ever known.
The best advice you received about studying at DTS? When I began reading my very first theology textbook, I was outlining like crazy thinking I was ahead of the game on what would be “on the test.” Two hours later, I was still in chapter one and ready to put my head down on my desk and weep. One of my professors advised me not to try and read all the books assigned the same way. There is so much reading in seminary, it is helpful to discern what books you need to “skim” and what books you need to take your time and drink deeply.
Is there anything else you would like to add that might be interesting to those thinking about studying at DTS (Nashville)? One of my biggest fears entering any seminary was that it would try and cram me into a narrow and claustrophobic “box of belief.” That fear has been completely unfounded during my time at DTS. Come to find out, I was the narrow and dogmatic one. I so much appreciate the knowledge and humility exhibited by so many DTS professors.
The How I... series asks students, alumni, staff, and professors to share their spaces, shortcuts, struggles, routines, helpful resources, and more. Do you have someone you want to see featured, or have questions you think we should ask? Email us your suggestions.