Layman, Community of Hope UMC, Royal Palm Beach, FL
What the Spirit is Saying to the Churches
In this short volume (easily readable in less than two hours) Henry Blackaby outlines a portion of the life of Faith Baptist Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. What makes this an important resource on the subject of Congregational Transformation is that Faith Church finds itself in each of the five categories that we are currently considering. The story begins with Faith as a Maintaining congregation, having existed for a number of years ministering to the membership but not attracting any new people. By late in 1969, Faiths membership had dwindled to a membership of ten people and had clearly crossed over into being a Dying congregation, no longer able to afford a pastor and actively seeking to sell the building. The ten gathered to pray, seeking confirmation from God that they should disband. As they knelt before God in prayer, He touched their hearts and told them to try one more time. They proceeded to call Henry Blackaby as pastor and he accepted, making the unlikely move from ministering in Southern California in an area with many thousands of unchurched people to return to his native Canada in relatively sparsely populated Saskatchewan.
The very first day the Blackabys arrived in Saskatoon, five (lay) men arrived in town from a city 90 miles to the north who had been convinced by God to start several ministry efforts in their city and also in other towns, villages and North American Native reserves in their region. They sensed God was leading them to Saskatoon to seek pastoral support for their ministry calling. By virtue of the decision Faith Church made to accept this spiritual challenge, they moved from Dying to Beginning as they re-launched their ministry by calling a pastor (although they passed through the Beginning category almost immediately to become both a Transforming and a Reproducing congregation virtually simultaneously.)
The congregation accepted the opportunity as a clear indication that God was obviously at work among them despite their feelings of being helpless, alone and weak. Pastor Blackaby knew that to open the eyes of his peoples to the ways of God required leading them into His Word. The people of Faith Church had to decide if they believed that God was inviting them to join Him in His work, if they were willing to adjust their lives to Him and trust God to guide and provide for them as they obeyed His call. The right question to ask is "Had God revealed His will and, if so, would we believe, obey and trust Him?"
The following is a brief summary of the books content using excerpts from each chapter:
Preface When God Works
Introduction God Speaks to His People
Chapter One God Takes the Initiative
Chapter Two What Only God Can Do
Chapter Three Seeing God Work
Chapter Four Hearing Him
Chapter Five Believing Him
Chapter Six Adjusting to Him
Chapter Seven Obeying Him And Seeing the Results
The book is available at www.henryblackaby.com for $9.99 plus shipping.