The Trellis and the Vine:The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. Matthias Media, 2009. 196 pages.
The Trellis and the Vine focuses on doing the hard work of gospel living. That is, Christians giving of themselves through personal discipleship creating gospel growth.
The trellis represents the structure of a church including “management, finances, infrastructure, organization, governance.” The vine represents gospel growth that grows around the trellis such as “planting, watering, fertilizing, and tending.” (8) Very often trellis work can take over vine work since it tends to be easier see and to figure out what needs to be done. Vine work can be tougher to discern just what needs to be done and exactly how to do it.
This book tackles the aspect of vine work. The reader is moved from thinking of the church as an institution into a personal, intentional and relational understanding. The barriers of trellis thinking are broached and broken down without being dismissed. The authors attempt to get the readers thinking about vine work.
The authors explain the reasons for vine work and gives examples of how it can be done. They explain what vine work training might look like and encourage every church member to be involved. A chart of “gospel growth stages” is given using seven example people that one might find in their church. Those stages consist of outreach, follow-up, growth and training. (86-87) This is an example of one of the tools offered.
A particularly interesting chapter is Why Sunday sermons are necessary but not sufficient. The authors lay out two stereotypes of church ministry – Pastor as clergyman and Pastor as CEO. (98) Every person will probably be able to see some aspect of these stereotypes in their churches. The authors offer a another way which is the pastor as trainer. (99) This is the position the authors have been pressing in the book. The authors’ position makes sense and is argued for biblically. This chapter could be a wake-up call for pastors and church members alike. Churches are challenged to evaluate a their programs, activities and structures against the gospel growth criteria presented. (108)
The book gives some very practical advice on growing a vine type of ministry in a church. The authors give examples of how it is done, where to start and some resources for training. Part of this is included in the three appendices including a helpful FAQ.
This book is a great ministry resources. It answers questions that pastoral staff may have as to how to get members intentionally involved each others lives for the gospel. Church members, both new and old, ask who are anxious to be involved in church life yet are unsure how will benefit. This book will guide them and help them ask the right questions of their pastor(s). Some long-time church members will be challenged if they are overly focused on particular programs, activities, etc. It may encroach on traditions for some though in a healthy, gospel-centered way.