Keith Kannenberg shares his spiritual journey

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 20, 2011

By Katie Scarvey
Keith Kannenberg has been a pastor for about 17 years now, and over that time, some things have become clear to him.
“People don’t know who they are,” he says.
He believes that many people “don’t really know how to connect with God.”
With his new book, “Soul Talk: A Spiritual Walk through a Physical World,” Kannenberg wants to help people figure out a holistic approach that takes into account body, soul and spirit.
Kannenberg will sign copies of his book during an author meet-and-greet today from noon to 2 p.m. at Literary Bookpost
He wants to help people on their Christian walk, he says.
“The book is about finding who God created you to be. He is the architect of our life, and he created us by specifications. There are certain things we have to do as Christians.”
Living too much in any one of the three areas — spirit, body or soul — can lead to problems, he believes.
Kannenberg believes that people aren’t always able to distinguish God’s voice. It frustrates him when people say to others, “God told me to tell you (fill in the blank).”
“Just because a thought comes into our head doesn’t mean God put it there,” he says. “People need to discern the voice of God from the voice of their own soul.”
Kannenberg sees himself as a bit of a radical.
For one thing, although he’s the pastor of Blackwelder Park Baptist Church in Kannapolis, don’t label him a Baptist minister.
“I don’t really consider myself any denomination,” he says. “I don’t think denominations mean a lot.
“I think Christianity is a movement, a life, a discipline, but not a religion,” he says. “Religion is manmade.”
When Jesus talked about how you’ve got to give your life away, Kannenberg says, “that means your soul, the identity of who you are.”
It’s about figuring out that life is not about what you want, he says, but about what God wants for you.
Kannenberg was raised in New York as a Catholic, which meant going to Mass at Christmas, he says. Church wasn’t a big part of his life.
As a teenager, he began to drink and do drugs. “I got involved in some pretty wicked stuff,” he says. He moved out of his parents’ home at 16 and moved into his own apartment. After his father was transferred out of state, Kanneberg reconciled with his parents and made the move to North Carolina with them.
He continued on the same questionable path, however.
As a young adult, throughout his 20s, he worked as a truck driver. During that time, Kannenberg says, he began to learn how to listen to God’s voice.
“Every spare minute I’d read the Word,” he says. “I’d read the Bible at stoplights.
“My salvation has been a working out process, realizing that God has a plan and I want to be a part of it.”
Part of the motivation to change happened when his first daughter was born when he was 25. “I knew I had to raise her right,” he says. He began visiting some churches and one day, it hit him: “I needed the Lord.
“So I gave my life to him. I said, ‘I don’t want to be in charge of this anymore.’”
As he was baptized, he began feeling a strong urge to preach. It was not an audible voice, he says, but something he “knew.”
“This thing inside of me came alive. I knew it was all that I could do. I had to preach the Gospel.”
His wife, however, was not feeling the same call to be a preacher’s wife and wasn’t convinced they needed to sell everything they had so her husband could study to become a pastor.
It caused them much strife for several years, he says. Finally, after praying about it, he relinquished the dream.
Feeling broken, he says, he decided that if God wanted him to simply continue to preach in rest homes, he would be satisfied with that.
A few days later, he says, his wife came home with a “for sale by owner” sign for their home. They sold it two weeks later.
Kannenberg began as an associate pastor in Concord and later served as a youth pastor in Winston-Salem. He then served his first senior pastorate in Kannapolis. That was followed by a position in Phoenix for four years. Three years ago, he moved back to Kannapolis, where he became pastor of Blackwelder Park Baptist Church.
Kannenberg created his own publishing company to publish “Soul Talk, which is available at Literary Bookpost, Footsteps in Concord, Christian Supply in Kannapolis and Corner Book and More in China Grove.
It is also available at his website, and will soon be available on