Experiencing God - Thirty Years Later

Horizon Weekly | 24 September 2020

By Richard Blackaby

No one could have foreseen what God would do when Henry Blackaby arrived at Faith Baptist Church in Saskatoon in April 1970. He and his wife, Marilyn, and their four boys had driven 1,700 miles from Los Angeles. Their daughter, Carrie, would be born that December. Henry, a Canadian, grew up in British Columbia. He pastored two churches in California and experienced significant success. People urged him not to leave his growing church to go to a congregation of ten people. Henry not only went but he brought his worship leader and his family of five with him.

Henry Blackaby preaching at Faith Baptist in Saskatoon, SK, in the early 1970s

For the next twelve years, God blessed Faith Baptist Church immensely. Faith and its missions started dozens of churches across Saskatchewan. A Bible college was founded. More than 100 young adults felt called into ministry, including Gerry Taillon, the current National Ministry Leader. Then Henry was called to Capilano Association in British Columbia to be an associational missionary for the next six years. Once again, God blessed his work. Henry then moved to Atlanta where he ultimately served as the special assistant to the presidents of the North American Mission Board, the International Mission Board, and Lifeway Christian Resources in the area of Prayer and Spiritual Awakening. He was also asked to write a book: Experiencing God.

People had heard Henry speak about knowing God’s will for years. Having followed God’s lead in Canada for eighteen years, Henry had learned that God was looking for people who would recognize His voice and obey His will, no matter the cost or how impossible it appeared. The workbook taught people what Blackaby had discovered while serving among Canadian National Baptists.

The response to the book exceeded the publisher’s wildest expectations. Countless readers claimed they had attended church all their life, but, for the first time, they were experiencing God personally. The publisher could not print the workbooks fast enough. At its peak, it was selling more than 500,000 copies a year. It has now sold more than eight million copies and been translated into dozens of languages. Blackaby has received hundreds of letters thanking him for the life-changing material. One woman told Henry that Experiencing God transformed her life. She wondered if he ever thought about writing a workbook focused on women, as women desperately needed one. Henry replied that he did not feel God’s leading personally, but perhaps God wanted her to write one. Her name was Beth Moore. Countless ministries, churches, and books have been inspired by Experiencing God.

Henry Blackaby, Jack Conner and Allen Schmidt at the CNBC Annual Convention in 1990 in Calgary, AB

Numerous churches and denominations have expressed that God used Experiencing God to bring revival. Blackaby spoke in 115 countries. He mentored Christian CEOs of Fortune 500 Companies. He met four American presidents and many world leaders. He spoke in the White House, the Pentagon, and the United Nations. He founded Blackaby Ministries International (www.blackaby.org) which continues to carry on his work.

Henry and his son Richard, celebrating Henry’s 83rd birthday (Photo taken from Richard’s Twitter)

Last year, Ben Mandrell, CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, asked his staff to review the publisher’s greatest highlights since its founding in 1891. They identified publishing Experiencing God as one of their most important achievements. In developing a new mission statement for Lifeway, Mandrell inserted the word “experiences.” He explained that if Henry Blackaby recognized how important experiencing God was, Lifeway Christian Resources should make it a part of their mission focus for years to come. 

November 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of Experiencing God’s release. It remains one of Lifeway’s all-time bestsellers. Blackaby, now 85, is retired, but all five of his children are in full-time ministry and two of his grandchildren work for Blackaby Ministries. Henry’s oldest grandson, Mike, moved to Victoria, British Columbia, to plant a church. When asked why he left a good church in Georgia to plant a church in Canada, Mike recalled his family legacy. His great-grandfather planted churches in British Columbia. His grandfather Henry returned to Canada to plant churches. Mike’s father served nineteen years in Canada. Now it was his turn.

A revised edition of Experiencing God will be released in 2021. Richard and Mike Blackaby will do the teaching videos. Henry’s oldest grandsons, Mike and Daniel, are writing and filming the youth edition of Experiencing God. Henry and his family will help people experience God for many years to come.

Do you have a story you would like to share? Please contact Lynda Blazina and let her know. We would love to share your stories with our CNBC family of churches.

CNBC Weekly Horizon
National Ministry Leader: Gerry Taillon 
Editor: Lynda Blazina
French Translation: Baker Hill    


CNBC Mission: We are churches in covenant giving ourselves away to advance the Kingdom.

CNBC Vision: 1000 healthy, Kingdom-focused churches.