A native of British Columbia, Dr. Henry Blackaby has been a Baptist pastor, evangelist, and denominational leader for more than 40 years. He is best known to Christians the world over as the author of the 1990 book Experiencing God, which has sold seven million copies and been translated into more than 45 languages. Two other books, Experiencing God Together and Experiencing God Day-by-Day, both won the Gold Medallion Award. He is founder and president emeritus of Blackaby Ministries International. Though officially retired, Dr. Blackaby still travels the world offering counsel, support, and inspiration to Christian pastors, business leaders, and missionaries. He and his wife, Marilynn, reside near Atlanta, Georgia.
Opening Doors With ‘The Keys of the Kingdom’
How have cultural attitudes toward Christianity changed in America over your lifetime?
History is always changing. It’s never static. There are some who are trying to remove the Christian influence from everything – that seems to have gone wild, and in almost every direction. Wherever the Christian influence is exerted, there’s always, in our day, going to be some individual or group that’s going to rise up against it.
But, as a Christian, you have the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. So you have the opportunity to open doors that have been closed and locked to the Gospel. Those may be the doors of a nation, a business, a part of the community. But God’s people have been given by God the keys to the Kingdom … and those keys will set people free, wherever you use them. Do you think most pastors are using those keys effectively?
Churches and denominations have an opportunity to shape the nation, but how they do it is critical. You need to follow biblical principles. Some key people, like James Dobson, are working to enlist pastors to influence their communities, but in a biblical way. But you don’t have many pastors attuned to that. Most pastors are evangelism-oriented, not transformation-oriented. They’ll go to meetings about evangelism, but not about transformation.
That’s why, everywhere I go, I’ll nearly always have a gathering of pastors, and try to lay on their heart what they could become, if they would only look at Scripture, and the way Christ wants to change the world. And I say to them: you need to be alert, and be aware, and be involved. Listen to groups like the Alliance Defense Fund, and let them tell you what’s going on where you are, so that you can have the most effective legal involvement in transforming society, and know how to respond. What advice would you offer to pastors who are looking to lead their churches to greater involvement in confronting the issues that impact their community?
Jesus said we, and we alone, are the salt and the light in the community. So if there’s something that’s decaying – we’re the salt. If there’s darkness that seems to be increasing – we’re the light. I feel that if there’s a time when we need to be the salt and the light, it’s now.
"Jesus said we, and we alone, are the salt and the light in the community.” Dr. Henry Blackaby
Be very alert. As a pastor, encourage and instruct your people to be very alert. Have gatherings together where you discuss the issues that are being faced in the school system, the textbooks in the school system, the legal decisions being made, or the moral issues that are being faced. The Alliance Defense Fund is a very, very helpful resource for a pastor.
God has put people in your church who can help address the issues of your community. He’s also put organizations like the Alliance Defense Fund alongside of the church and the pastors. So I’d encourage you to be the shepherds over the people of God, to guide them to green pastures, still waters … and the paths of righteousness, for His name’s sake. Why do you stress the importance of pastors working together across denominational lines?
I feel the pastors need to be alerted to what’s happening, and to have their spiritual antennas out, and to become involved with their local ministerial alliance. When that alliance speaks with a corporate voice, it is very strong. In my years as a pastor, I was part of a ministerial alliance that did that. We were not just evangelical churches, but the United Methodist Church, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians – the whole bunch. When we spoke, we had a huge influence … because you put all the members of all those churches together, and you touch the whole city. How would you describe the work of the Alliance Defense Fund?
The Alliance Defense Fund is a seismograph, to catch the first trembling and movement against the Christian faith in our society, and to do it with a unique legal perspective. It’s a very quiet, but a very effective movement. They have Christ at the center of what they’re doing, and they want to help God’s people to understand and adjust to the anti-Christian approach that seems so rampant in our day. If you’re a pastor, ADF is a great partner with you. I’ve known them from the beginning, I know them now, and I believe that God would have us link our lives together.