This post is part 3 in a series where I post excerpts from the book Old Paths, New Power written by Daniel Henderson. I resist making a commentary on the book. Rather, I pull out excerpts that caught my attention at this stage of my pastoral journey.
Chapter 3. Vision: Received or Achieved?
Of course, my mind was surging with the reality that a simple sailboat does not bring glory to itself but the power of an unseen force propelling it along. It is dead in the water unless the wind blows. I knew the course might be a little unpredictable because of the nature of the “wind”, but I was tired of trying hard to be a high-impact leader. I knew the depth of my soul that God is revealing to me a better and fruitful way. Page 60
They were resolute to receive ministry, from Christ, by His Spirit, in the environment of “prayer and the ministry of the word.” What he imparted to them, to the church, and to then to the community, was truly transformational and undeniably divine. This seems so counterintuitive for us in today’s “get’r done” culture. Page 61
Notably the Acts 6:4 commitment – and conviction – does not refer to the apostles’ personal prayer lives, although we could assume this. Rather it refers to their collective focus as a team of leaders, and among the people. We see the culture of the leadership team, which overflowed into the life of the church. Page 62
That is why the Acts 6 moment is not the exception but the rule. We should remind ourselves that this is the same resolve that heralded the day of Pentecost as they waited to receive ministry through the Holy Spirit’s arrival and empowerment (Luke 24:49; acts 1:8). They stayed in that receiving position consistently as they embedded patterns of discipleship in the early believers (Acts 2:42). When they encounter persecution they did not try to design a strategy to ensure their equal rights but, through prayer, looked to God to receive a refill of courage (Acts 4:23 – 30). When Peter was in prison, the church did not hire a lawyer but sought the Lord for his deliverance (12:5). The second half of Acts was launched from Antioch as the leaders fasted and ministered to the Lord then received fresh instructions and a missionary calling from the Holy Spirit (13:1 – 3). When tortured and jailed Paul and Silas sang and prayed and received miraculous deliverance in a new powerful witnessing (16:25). Page 63
Ministry can actually be achieved quite impressively in today’s society. But the old paths that lead to new power compel us to embrace Ministry is something to be received. Page 65
In our environment of accomplishment, we feel driven to come up with a vision, a compelling picture of the future that will rally the troops, raise the funds, and grow the numbers. Page 65
Vision is something people produce; revelation is something people receive. Page 66
In 2014, Cymbala wrote, “In the last 20 years there have been more conferences and more books published on church growth than all the prior history of our country. As new models of how to grow your church have increased in popularity, we’ve actually witnessed a precipitous decline of Christians in America. The numbers are irrefutable.” Page 68
Zachariah’s words are just as rich with relevance as they were the day they were pinned thousands of years ago; “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zachariah 4:6 close parentheses. The wind of the Spirit is still sufficient but he cannot propel a sophisticated, self-sufficient powerboat. Page 69