ATHENS – In May 2015, Mark Clifton, senior director of replanting at the North American Mission Board, asked Henry and Richard Blackaby if they would write a book to encourage and challenge struggling churches and base the book on Henry’s experience at Faith Baptist Church in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada in the 1970s.
The Blackabys were responsive to the urging of the NAMB leaders and wrote the book Flickering Lamps: Christ and His Church. The book is the story of what happened when Christ took control of a little church that was about to die.
When the senior Blackaby went to Faith Baptist Church, there were ten members remaining in the fellowship and the church had a “For Sale” sign in the front yard. It would be an understatement to say the situation looked less than promising.
Blackaby served the church for 12 years, overseeing remarkable transformation and growth. “I had friends and fellow pastors insist I would be wasting my life and condemning my ministry to irrelevance if I left my thriving California congregation and migrated to a small, isolated community on the Canadian prairies,” Henry testified. “But, that was not the way God viewed it.”
A resource for all churches
Under Blackaby’s leadership God’s presence was evident in the worship services and the church began to experience phenomenal growth. One of the most remarkable evidences of God’s favor upon the church can be seen in the 100 people called into Christian ministry during Blackaby’s 12 years as pastor.
Blackaby’s ministry at Faith Baptist served as the foundation of the book and study entitled “Experiencing God.” Clifton believed the story of what God did at Faith Baptist Church could be used to inspire, encourage, and challenge current churches and leaders struggling, plateaued, and on the verge of decline.
Flickering Lamps is not only a book for churches that are plateaued or in decline, but a great resource for any pastor or church, whether they are struggling or healthy.
When published in August 2015, the book found widespread acceptance among Associational Directors of Missions and pastors in numerous states. A DVD released in September 2016 included sessions on each chapter featuring Henry and Richard Blackaby.
Lex Bowen, director of missions for Sarepta Association, is planning to host what he is calling a “REVIVE” conference at Prince Avenue Baptist Church in Athens Sept. 26 that will focus on the material in Flickering Lamps. Richard Blackaby and Mark Clifton will provide practical, biblical encouragement for how church leaders can align their congregation with Christ’s rule and power. Often churches are only a few adjustments away from thriving once more.
Bowen commented, “Sarepta is not unlike other associations all across our state in that we have over 80 percent of our churches plateaued or declining. In our efforts to address this major issue, we formed a Church Growth Resource Team to assist our churches. After reading Flickering Lamps by Henry and Richard Blackaby, it dawned on me that we had focused on the mechanics of revitalization and not nearly enough on the spiritual element.
“We are thrilled to be hosting the Revive conference with Richard Blackaby and John Mark Clifton in which the spiritual dimension of revitalization will be addressed. It is a great opportunity for pastors, staff and church leaders to come to an event that could provide the spark needed to genuinely bring about a spiritual awakening to reverse the decline of our churches.”
Richard Blackaby commented, “Everywhere we have shared this material, pastors and church leaders have been greatly encouraged. Once people gain a clear view of the risen Christ standing in the midst of their church, hope is restored, and a bright future appears possible once again!”
For more information on “Revive” go to: http://www.cvent.com/d/55qj85.