The book Old Paths, New Power: Awakening Your Church through Prayer and the Ministry of the Word was written by Daniel Henderson with a publication date of 2016. Much has been revealed about our culture in the mere four years since the book was written. The emphasis of Daniels’ insights proves just as true, if not more so, today as when they were written.
I have gotten the chance to get to know Daniel and have walked through the concepts of this book in a prayer cohort of Pastors associated with the ministry, Strategic Renewal. I am thankful for those men and their heart for God and his people. I am encouraged by the many churches who have embraced the centrality of prayer and the proclamation of the Word. Through Strategic Renewal and The 6:4 Fellowship of Pastors, I and have had the privilege to interact with many of them and see the fruit of their ministries. In many ways, I find this book and the interactions with these men resonating with my core values and the beliefs that launched me into ministry back 30 years ago. I find keeping prayer and the ministry of the Word central in my ministry as a Pastor a constant challenge both from external hostile forces and well-meaning church-goers and leaders. I am thankful for faithful brothers who call me and all Pastors to strengthen these Scriptural foundations.
I will resist making these writings a commentary on the book. Rather, I will pull out excerpts that caught my attention. You will notice some chapters have more excerpts than others. This is not a commentary on the importance of any particular chapter over another but simply a result of what grabbed my attention at this stage of my pastoral journey.
I will be posting one blog a day covering one chapter a day coinciding with the first 13 days of January. This first blog covers the introduction and chapter 1.
Excerpts from the Intro (p. 13-31)
Today’s pastors face pressing dilemmas that can easily derail spiritual focus. Trying to breathe life into dying programs or driving the creation of new initiatives can consume every ounce of energy of the pastoral team. Page 19
These early church leaders knew that ministry was received, not achieved. Their understanding was not that they had to reach the world for Christ but that Christ was ready to reach the world through them. Page 19
We pray in the context of ministry, but Jesus ministered in the context of prayer. Page 20
In this moment it’s apparent that the American church is drifting. All indicators would also point to an impending sifting. There is not been a more critical moment in recent history. It is a moment that calls us to the core supernatural realities of ministry. Page 21
On the Path to Power: Revival or Recession? By John Dickerson
Question: why is the wealthiest church in world history declining in both size and cultural influence? I believe the answer lies in this simple statement: in the midst of these developments, the great strength in the American church has become its greatest weakness. Somewhere along the way, unintentionally and gradually, we moved our feet of faith away from desperate dependence on the resurrection of Christ, away from the Holy Spirit as our only source of power, away from desperate times of prayer. Page 25
Slowly, unintentionally, our feet of faith have shifted away from prayer is the only means of siphoning supernatural strength through the dimensions of the universe, into our human world. Page 26
How do we return to sowing seeds of faith desperately depend on God’s Word, His Spirit, and Himself? Scripture answers that question: “humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that the proper time he may exalt you” (1 Peter 5:6). Page 26
Faced with such facts, we can choose one of three responses: 1. Ignore the evidence and continue with business as usual. Continue losing our own young people, declining as a percentage of the population, and failing to be ambassadors who bring good news to pagan culture. 2. Acknowledge the facts but despair and bemoan our sad state, for lack of faith. 3. Acknowledge the facts and return to God in desperate faith. Page 27
It does not require a dynamic human leader to launch such a prayer movement, because the dynamic leader already exists, in the Holy Spirit. God is searching for servants who will be humbly bold enough to invite the Spirit’s leadership into times of corporate prayer.
The hope of the church has never been its cultural footing; the hope of the church is always been the resurrection power of Christ. The power of the church has never been within its measure of people, but always in his measure of the Holy Spirit. Page 28
Excerpts from Chapter 1: Current Drift – Future Sift (p.33-43)
I believe we can conclude that the revival of Acts 6 was the impetus to the increased persecution. Page 35
Without question, we too are in need of momentous Acts 6 movement of prayer and proclamation of the Word. I also cannot help but wonder if this will be the ultimate preparation for an upcoming sifting of the church. In all likelihood, a revival will advance the supernatural spread of the gospel will also fast-track the inevitable showdown between an intolerant culture in the truth of Jesus Christ. Page 35
As I often heard Jim Cymbala say, “It is hard for me to be clever and make Jesus beautiful at the same time.” Page 36
Ministry as a showcase for “leadership” is creating some rock stars but not anchoring our souls in the Rock of Ages. Page 36
Based on four different studies, each with unique and verifiable research approaches, Dickerson reports that the number of evangelical Christians is actually between 7 and 9 percent of the US population. Page 36
Our need is to be revived in the New Testament essence of church leadership that will answer a hostile and wary culture with the display of all the akes Christianity unique and triumphant-power of the gospel, lived and proclaimed and supernatural power. Page 38
Already, Christian schools are being threatened to comply with the normalization of unbiblical lifestyles in the official documents of the institution or risk losing accreditation and government-sponsored loans for their students. Many leaders are convinced that the day is approaching quickly when tax-deductible giving to gospel-rooted churches and Christian organizations will be taken away. When the government decides to tax churches for their land and buildings, the large facility-dependent, program-driven mega ministries will likely falter. Page 40
We may be like the church of Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6 – living in the false reality of a former glory, still believing we are full of life, effective, and fruitful – when we are really comatose. Could it be that our reputation has far exceeded our spiritual reality? Recall Christ’s words of warning to his followers in Sardis: “I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.” (Revelation. 3:1-3) Page 42
We must honestly assess the level of life transformation, extraordinary prayer, Spirit-empowered preaching, authentic evangelistic living, and fruitful disciple-making. Page 42