People today are hungry for God’s sure guidance in their churches. But how do they find it? One of the strongest prophetic voices to the church today, Henry Blackaby, helps Christians grasp God's pattern for strengthening their churches, rather than relying on human ideas and methods that leave God on the periphery. They’ll learn how to be sensitive individually and corporately to the effort of the Spirit, exploring the trustworthy principles by which the Lord longs to guide each congregation toward its own distinctive mission.

Crosswalk.com: Wanting to talk about your new book, What the Spirit is Saying to Churches, What is it that typically keeps church congregations from hearing what the Spirit has to say to them?

Blackaby: As I have observed it, and the Lord put his hand on me 50 years ago, so I have a long look at it - Primarily, if I were to evaluate it, it's that God's people have moved from a relationship to religion. So we faithfully practice religious activities, and we perfect it and keep it, but the relationship with God is like it was in Israel and Judah in Jesus time. They were not getting the message. But we think that we're in touch with God because we're doing religious activity, -- cannot remember the last time that God clearly spoke to us.
 

Crosswalk.com: You write about the Lord's examining presence in your book. What do you mean by this?

Blackaby: The phrase, "what the spirit is saying to churches," you can find in Chapters 2 & 3 of Revelation. Basically, he says several things in that. Number one, he comes to the church and speaks to the pastor, or the angel. He says, "I know your works." And before every church, he also gives something of a characteristic of his nature. Each one of them is different. For instance, Ephesus says that it's the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven. Well, each of them is different. So God comes to the church and each individual congregation. And he says, "I know your works." Then he describes them. And if there's anything that's not right, he immediately calls for repentance. As he comes to the end of every one of these, he says, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches." God walks in the midst of the churches, and of course, if Christ is the head of every local church, then He is present and active and involved. He will speak to the churches. If they won't hear, He just says, then, "I'm sorry, I withdraw." We can go on practicing religion and never know that He has left. In too many of the churches, what we're doing and what we're planning to do, we can do without Him.

Crosswalk.com: What makes the world of churches respond to the Spirit?

Blackaby: I'm convinced that God's eternal purpose to change the world is through His churches. They're not an accident of history. They were planned and purposed by God.  When He created in the beginning, He created a family, so every newborn would be in the family, could grow normally and then function fully. Every person born into his kingdom, God eternally purposed they should become a part of the spiritual family called a church. Then, through that congregation, there's no limit to what God can do to touch and change the world.

Crosswalk.com: You mentioned that church leaders are often (I couldn't understand this word) to respond to the Spirit's calling. Why do you think that is so?

Blackaby: Well, again, Biblically, that is true.When God was about to judge Israel in the Old Testament, it was the spiritual leaders who never got the message. And when He was about to judge Jerusalem and Judah, it was the spiritual leaders who never got the message. In Jesus' day, God sent His son, and it was the religious leaders who not only did not get the message, did not listen, but they crucified the Son of God. Every person God sent to them -- the prophets -- They killed almost every one of the prophets. And my heart says, "Human nature has not changed." I don't know that the spiritual leaders of our day would be any more sensitive. Some of them are, but too many are busily practicing religion and trying to be successful and make a name. But what the Spirit is saying to the churches which he does through the pastor, so often, they miss the message.