Thursday 4 March 2010

Colin Marshall and Tony Payne on the Trellis and the Vine

Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift That Changes Everything (Kingsford: St Matthias Press, 2009), ISBN 9781921441585.

This book sold out fast and was ‘unavailable’ for a while in the UK. I’ve now got a copy, I’m four chapters in, and am enjoying it so far.

Church ministry, the authors say, is a mixture of trellis work and vine work. There is the basic ministry – of preaching the gospel, of seeing people come to Christ, and growing to maturity. That’s the work of planting, watering, fertilising, and tending the vine. But vines need a framework to help them grow, some kind of structure and support. Vines need a trellis.

And churches too have some kind of trellis that gives shape and support to the work – leadership, finances, organisation, refreshment and welcome and cleaning rotas, CRB checks, etc. Churches need good trellis workers. In fact, the trellis is essential to the proper growth of the vine.

But the danger is that trellis work takes over vine work. So much effort goes into keeping the trellis in shape that the actual work of growing the vine gets left to a few people, or gets neglected altogether.

I’ve used the analogy in a number of contexts already – at my own church and for a church weekend elsewhere – to encourage the whole church to tend and nourish the vine – with the gospel of the kingdom.

There is a short sample of the book here, and a discussion guide available here.

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