Dr. Kelly Larson (M.A. ’08) serves as the lead pastor of Bishop Creek Community Church in Bishop, California. He received his doctorate in systematic theology from South African Theological Seminary. He is married to his lovely wife, Suzanne. He is also the author of the book, Anthem of the Flock: Life in the 23rd Psalm.

Share briefly about your upbringing, family, and place you grew up.
I was raised in Orange County, in a “Christian” home, so to speak; we were churchgoers, we prayed, had devotions, yet, there was quite a bit of marital tension from the earliest of my memories. Yet, I accepted Christ at the age of 7 — night service — halfway back in the pew on the right-hand side. My parents divorced a year or so later and life became more confusing. Church attendance was sporadic, though after some chaotic teen years the Lord had called me back to him.

How did you hear about Talbot/Biola? What led you to come to the school?
Though I felt that I had been called to ministry in the early ‘80s, I took the road through “Tarsus,” and didn’t consider seminary in earnest until I did so in midlife after a first career in contracting. I had been contemplating attending seminary in the Midwest when I spoke to a friend at church who challenged me, “Why would you go back there when one of the top three seminaries is only 8 miles away?” As God would have it, there was an orientation the following week which I attended; I applied, was accepted, and attended the following semester.

Share some of your favorite memories from Talbot. What did you gain the most from your time at Talbot?
My years on campus were some of the best — I was sorry in many ways to move beyond that experience. One of the first things that impacted me was opening with prayer in my first class; what a breath of fresh air for someone coming from secular education! I had been out of academia for 25 years, but I appreciated the blend between the academic rigor and the pastoral graces in the importance of ministry — Talbot captured that correct balance.

Talbot revealed to me that I didn’t know all that much. Still, I realized that God could still work through me, and, over time, equip this vessel for service. I learned to thirst for the Word, to love reading, to appreciate writing, and gain some element of confidence—most of all, to love God more, and love people.

Share some of your favorite memories from Talbot. What did you gain the most from your time at Talbot?
Since graduating I have had the privilege of pastoring Bishop Creek Community Church in Bishop, California. Coming from a church that was larger in population than the town to which I was relocating required some adjustments, but I have acquired quite an appreciation for small church ministry, which I believe is able to instill a greater sense of community, oversight, and thus, accountability. No seminary can truly prepare anyone for every element which awaits the new minister, but Talbot, with a broad spectrum of classes, did equip me with the right tools to hit the ground running, and work through various challenges.

As a solo pastor I have had the opportunity to preach, disciple, equip others, and I take time to write, doing a blog (TheShepherdsPen.com), and dabbling with a couple of books.

What advice would you give to current Talbot students?
I would counsel people that real-life ministry will more often test you in regards to what you do not yet know. You will be caught off guard. These are the times to be leaning heavily on the Holy Spirit, and wise counsel. The teaching only begins at graduation, so never quit learning.

There are going to be times you feel alone. Keep showing up! For the person who is called to this blessed vocation, there is no greater privilege than serving the Lord in full-time pastoral ministry. Colossians 1:28–29: “Him we proclaim, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose I also labor, striving according to His working, which He works in me in power.”

– Interview by Ben Shin

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Have you published a book? Completed doctoral work? Started a new job? Welcomed a child into your home through birth or adoption? We want to know what you're up to and how the kingdom of God is advancing through your personal and professional lives. Send us your update and include your year(s) of graduation.

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