Henry Blackaby, a pastor who wrote the bestselling book Experiencing God and who launched a ministry that impacted the world, died Saturday. He was 88.
In 1990, Blackaby released Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, a book that sold 8 million copies and helped countless Christians deepen their walk with the Lord. Blackaby said the book was based on what he learned during 18 years as a pastor in Canada, where he saw God work in miraculous ways as he planted churches alongside his wife, Marilynn. Blackaby was born in Canada, though his ministry was known throughout the world.
He founded Blackaby Ministries International, which is currently headed by his son, Richard. All five of Blackaby’s children entered the ministry.
“Experiencing God is my life message,” he once said. “It describes the way I have always understood and walked with God. I had shared these truths in many places before writing the book. People repeatedly asked, ‘Have you ever written down the material you are teaching? God’s people need to hear these truths.’ I eventually put that material into the book. … God has used the study to change millions of lives and thousands of churches around the world.”
He added, “I am amazed that God, in His mercy and grace, used such a modest work by ordinary people.”
A graduate of the University of British Columbia and Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now Gateway Seminary), Blackaby wrote other books, too, including Holiness: God's Plan for Fullness of Life, Created to Be God's Friend: How God Shapes Those He Loves, Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God's Agenda, Fresh Encounter and A God-Centered Church.
The popularity of Experiencing God led to devotionals, workbooks, small group lessons, study Bibles, and conferences.
“Early this morning, our dad went to be with his Lord,” Richard Blackaby wrote on social media Saturday. “He helped countless people experience God. Now he is experiencing God in ways that surely surpass even his most cherished dreams. We were privileged to have a spiritual giant for a father.”
Early this morning, our dad went to be with his Lord. He helped countless people experience God. Now he is experiencing God in ways that surely surpass even his most cherished dreams. We were privileged to have a spiritual giant for a father. Funeral arrangements forthcoming. pic.twitter.com/SJUdqZF5ux— Richard Blackaby (@richardblackaby) February 10, 2024
Evangelical leaders said Henry Blackaby’s ministry had a major impact on the church.
“We are deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of Henry Blackaby,” Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of Lifeway, told Baptist Press. “He was a great man of God and minister to the body of Christ, beginning with his time as a local church pastor and continuing through his ministry as an author and Bible teacher.
“Millions of people around the globe have been impacted by his Bible study Experiencing God. He loved his Lord, his family, and his local church. Lifeway sends the Blackaby family our sincere condolences as they remember the life and ministry of this godly man.”
Jimmy Draper, who served as Lifeway’s president during the 1990s and 2000s when Experiencing God was rising in prominence, said, “only eternity will reveal the extent of Henry’s impact on the church.”
“I know of no published material that has impacted more churches in more ways than Experiencing God,” Draper told Baptist Press. “Though Henry wrote more materials after Experiencing God, that book became the foundation upon which his entire ministry was built. It was obviously the hand of God upon Henry and his message. He will be forever remembered for his passion for spiritual awakening and for the practical working of the Holy Spirit in believers’ lives. The impact on the church will continue until the Lord returns!”
Blackaby was preceded in death by his wife, Marilynn.
PODCAST: Authors Jennifer Slattery & Ava Pennington Share How the 'Experiencing God' Book Helps You Build A Life That Stands Strong in Difficult Times
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/wmaster890
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.