Prior to joining Emmanuel Reformed Church in Lincolnton last month as head pastor, Dr. Keith Brown toured the country performing a combination of comedy and magic.
The Wilmington native served as a Christian illusionist.
While his hobbies took him away from his church role for several years, he never stopped incorporating his faith into his acts.
For most shows, whether it was for a group of church teens or a ticketed performance for the community, Brown concluded with a Gospel-centered lesson.
He said he decided to go the magic route since it was an interest since childhood and could easily be woven into his already planned speaking engagements for his ministry role.
In April, Emmanuel church officials called him and asked if he would consider joining the worship facility as pastor.
“I am excited to be back in this role again to help (Emmanuel) move forward,” he said.
He said he welcomes the opportunity to again lead a church after being absent from the pulpit for so long.
With a current membership of around 40 people, Emmanuel has much room for growth.
Brown said he has always known ministry would be his future. He “first felt the tug of God” to pursue vocational ministry during his days as a church youth.
While he ignored the call at first and went to work in the finance field following college, it wasn’t long before he was reminded of his life’s primary purpose.
“God once again clearly spoke to my heart,” Brown said, “and this time, God would not take no for an answer.”
With much uncertainty about how God would fulfill such a plan for his life, Brown trusted his faith, certain he would be used to inspire others’ lives.
He soon pursued his Masters of Divinity from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, the same school as Dr. Billy Graham. Brown also obtained a doctorate in both apologetics and magic at two other institutions.
Regardless of Brown’s audience, he said his main goal has been to connect with people in a personal way, as though speaking directly to each person.
“I love to entertain audiences of all ages,” he said.
However, Brown said that children have been his most intriguing crowd thus far and even plans to host a magic show for them at Emmanuel’s Family Fun Fest next month.
“God has gifted me with an ability to connect with young ones,” he said.
Even with his part-time position as Emmanuel pastor, he doesn’t plan to give up his love for either magic tricks or the pen, having also authored fiction and non-fiction works throughout his lifetime.
Through all of his dabblings, whether for his career in ministry or entertainment work, he has made it a point to illustrate Christian-based themes, always pointing back to the One whom he believed ordained his life’s path.
He noted the most priceless part of his work has been teaching and developing various relationships with those around him.
“I love teaching, and it is always a joy building personal relationships with members of the local church and community,” he said.
Brown’s life has always been about living as though he were “Jesus with skin on” — a phrase he said he heard long ago but will never forget.
Emmanuel Reformed Church is located at 329 East Main Street in Lincolnton. For questions about service times or any other church activities, call (704) 736-8486.