When Greg Knapper saw a church group of about six people walking up the driveway to his home, he told his wife, “You can deal with them.”
Little did Knapper know, the Lord was just beginning to deal with him.
Knapper, who grew up as a Catholic, said he “hid in the bedroom” as the pastor of a Kentucky Baptist church stood on the porch with his wife. Together the group prayed for his salvation. “They stood there together as I was looking through the blinds.”
A short time later, Knapper became ill with a condition causing him to pass out almost without warning. When he was in the hospital, Leon Boyd, the interim pastor at Elk Creek Baptist, Taylorsville, came to visit him.
It wasn’t long until he made a profession of faith and was baptized. And God was just getting warmed up.
Tug toward ministry
Knapper had been attending Elk Creek Baptist Church at the urging of his wife, Shawn. They came there after attending an Easter egg hunt where their daughter, Sierra, participated. They ended up leaving Elk Creek and started attending Bethlehem Baptist Church, which was pastored by Greg Taylor – the same preacher who had come with that church group to his home to pray for him as he stowed away in the bedroom.
He had already started to feel a tug toward ministry which eventually became an unquenchable urge. “I remember the day I had my calling very vividly,” he said. “The vision hit me, and I thought, ‘Oh no!’ Then I started the ‘You don’t want me process.’ I didn’t tell my wife and didn’t tell my pastor. Finally, I succumbed to it.”
Knapper shared God’s calling on his life and then acted on it by serving as an associate pastor, alongside Taylor, that same pastor who prayed for him on his front porch and visited him in the hospital.
He was ordained into the ministry at Bethlehem and served as an associate pastor for eight years. When the lead pastor left the church, all on good terms, the door was opened for Knapper. He was the interim pastor for three months and in October became the new pastor after a unanimous vote during a business meeting where a motion had been made to see if he would accept a nomination. Knapper was on vacation with his family when he received a phone call telling him the outcome of the business meeting.
Reaching into the community
“Right now, we’re in like a church plant or reinvention phase,” said Knapper, who also works full-time in the IT department for Norton Healthcare. “We’re looking at what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Anything we do, we want to do well.”
The church has had an online presence only since the start of COVID-19 and is still not back to its pre-COVID attendance numbers. Knapper said they have 67 members and an average of about 40 in Sunday worship. However, the Spirit is moving, he said. Three young people have been baptized since Oct. 3.
“We’re trying to move ourselves forward in a way that we can reach into the community,” he said. “That’s probably been our biggest push.”
They’ve hosted a drive-in movie night and planned to be part of the FCA Fields of Faith event at Spencer County High School.
“I look forward to everything God has for us,” he said. “I knew this was my calling.”
Of course, his family is 100 percent behind the move to the senior pastorate, which he said was a 24/7 job despite his secular full-time job. “There aren’t any part-time preachers,” he said. His daughter attends Campbellsville University and leads a worship team there. She helps lead the worship at Bethlehem when she comes home.
Knapper, 48, said he plans to be more active in the Kentucky Baptist Convention to utilize the resources that are available. “I plan on going to the Convention (Annual Meeting) in November.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — This story originally appeared in Kentucky Today, the newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.