About three years ago, we as the elders at our church read Colin Marshall and Tony Payne’s The Trellis and the Vine. I’m revisiting it now as I’m reading it with one of the new deacons in some trellis-and-vine style discipleship.
I’m saddened to see how poorly we’ve adopted what the authors recommend.
Chapter one provides a beautiful parable comparing the work done in churches to a vine growing on a trellis. The authors ask us, are we putting our effort into building a trellis (creating programs) or cultivating the vine (growing people.) The argue — and I agree — that way too much goes into creating structure and force-fitting people into that structure, rather than building, training and growing people for ministry.
Chapter two of the book outlines the “Ministry Mind-Shifts” that the writers recommend and which they flesh out in detail in later chapters. They say we need to transform:
- From running programs to building people
- From running events to training people
- From using people to growing people
- From filling gaps to training new workers
- From solving problems to helping people make progress
- From clinging to ordained ministry to developing team leadership
- From focusing on church polity to forging ministry partnerships
- From relying on training institutions to establishing local training
- From focusing on immediate pressures to aiming for long-term expansion
- From engaging in management to engaging in ministry
- From seeking church growth to desiring gospel growth
Getting buy-in on these as principles is not the difficult part. Getting buy-in on these as actions? That’s where the work is.