Canadian pastor Henry Blackaby wrote Experiencing God, a 13-week interactive discipleship workbook, for use in the Southern Baptist Convention. Yet the 224-page course about knowing and doing the will of God is now being used in at least 17 other denominations, including Church of God, Assemblies of God, Roman Catholic, Vineyard, Mennonite, and Episcopal churches.
Blackaby, 63, says Christians often ask the wrong question: "What is God's will for my life?" What they should be asking, he says, is, "What is God's will?"
Blackaby developed the material through years of serving as a pastor in rural Canada. Often he had no resources and had to wait on God's provision. The workbook, which emphasizes a deeper relationship with God, teaches that to know God intimately requires knowing his Word.
The Experiencing God (LifeWay Christian Resources) workbook has sold more than 2 million copies, plus another 2.5 million ancillary products, including a specialized Bible.
"It's popular because it's interactive and meets people where they are," LifeWay's Sam House says of the workbook. "Rather than emphasizing a process, Experiencing God emphasizes a relationship with God. Some people go through it two or three times and they get something new every time."
Lutheran pastor Warren D. Freiheit of Peoria, Illinois, says those in his church who have gone through the study have developed a deeper appreciation and understanding of God's work.
"They're also much more active," he says. Freiheit first heard about the study from Kristie Toniny, a layperson in his church who had studied Experiencing God at a local Presbyterian church.
"I had been churched all of my life, but I never truly understood what it meant to have a personal relationship with God until ...1