Old Paths, New Power, Pt 12

This post is part 12 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 12: A New Unleashing of Missional Agents

Based on the story of Acts 6:1 -7, I reminded these intercessors that “prayer and the ministry of the Word” are the foremost priorities of the pastoral leaders. Page 203

My friend Leith Anderson, pastor for over three decades with their church at Wooddale in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, believes churches do more to help pastors succeed than pastors do to help churches succeed. This seems counterintuitive, as we tend to place such great emphasis on the leadership role of the senior pastor. Page 204

No doubt, life-giving congregational environments are the result of both godly guidance and gracious people working together for God’s glory. Page 204

Could it be that our confidence in the tangible direction of the Holy Spirit has been eclipsed by human leadership strategies? Page 205

When leaders pray openly and honestly with their people in pursuit of the face of God, hearts are united with spirit-imparted affection and understanding. Health overflows. Page 205

It has been said bylaws, constitutions, committees, voting, and Roberts Rules of Order have one thing in common: They are not the Bible. I can’t help but wonder if they become artificial replacements for the real work of united prayer and practical reliance on the leadership and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Page 205 – 06

Jesus assumed his disciples would fast after his ascension (Matthew 9:15). Yet, there are only two instances of corporate fasting in the New Testament. Both are connected to the selection and appointment of leaders. Page 206

Sadly, today we tend to select pastors, elders, deacons, and others to serve in other vital roles based upon superficial human indicators…I can’t help but wonder if this is at the core of why so many churches are dysfunctional, divided, and directionless. Page 207

Any pastor would be ecstatic to have an army of “6:3 ” mission agents. Page 207

Here’s the point: who knows if there is a “Stephen” or a “Philip” sitting in the pews of your services this Sunday? Answer: the Holy Spirit knows. This compels us to create an environment of empowerment… Perhaps we would be compelled to call the church to extraordinary prayer. Even a congregational fast would facilitate a fresh discovery of the Spirit’s sufficiency and fruitful plans though his choice of missional agents. Page 210

These [points below] could serve as vital prayer targets for pastors as they surveyed the sea of faces on Sunday morning. These also serve as a standard for every believer in the body of Christ. Page 211

One. A heartfelt commitment to exemplary living. The first description of the seven was that they were “of good reputation.” Proverbs 22:1 says, “Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold” (NLT). Page 211

Two. A humble submission to the Holy Spirit. The seven were also “full Holy Spirit.” Their character was marked by extraordinary submission to the Holy Spirit. Page 212

Three. A hunger for Godly wisdom. Wisdom is the power of truth applied to the practice of life. Page 212

Four. A humane understanding of the needs. Each of the seven men had Greek names, indicating they were Jews with Greek background and language…There existed then, and is now considerable value in assigning people to tasks for which they are a natural understanding and genuine concern. Page 213

Five. Healthy view of their spiritual potential. Too often, Christians today view themselves as mere “laymen.” I often joke that I did not call the people in our church “Lay-men” because they would take it as a command and just lay around… Believers are all set apart by God for unofficial, kingdom oriented service… When the members of our churches since our genuine confidence in the Spirit’s work in and through them, the environment is marked by optimism, joy, and fruitfulness. Page 213

Six. A helpful participation in ministry. These seven were eager to take the administrative and operational burden off the apostles…I believe this kind of movement of extraordinary leadership and service transform the church and empower pastors like never before. Page 213

Seven. A holy expectation of supernatural results. As we’ve already noted, the outcomes of this arrangement in Acts 6 spawned a powerful spiritual advancement; I’ve already described it as one of the greatest “revival” moments of the New Testament. “The word of God continued to increase and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many the priest became obedient to the faith” (v. 7). No Christian is just filling a mundane spot of service in the church. Page 215

Remember that praying pastors pave the way for an awakening of worship, leading to an awakening of witness and awakening of workers as mission agents. This leads to an awakening of wonder at the power of Christ in the church and through the church in supernatural impact on a lost society. Page 215 – 216.