About three years ago, we as the elders at our church read Colin Mar­shall and Tony Payne’s The Trel­lis and the VineI’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.

Trellis and the VineChap­ter 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:

  1. From run­ning pro­grams to build­ing people
  2. From run­ning events to train­ing people
  3. From using peo­ple to grow­ing people
  4. From fill­ing gaps to train­ing new workers
  5. From solv­ing prob­lems to help­ing peo­ple make progress
  6. From cling­ing to ordained min­istry to devel­op­ing team leadership
  7. From focus­ing on church polity to forg­ing min­istry partnerships
  8. From rely­ing on train­ing insti­tu­tions to estab­lish­ing local training
  9. From focus­ing on imme­di­ate pres­sures to aim­ing for long-term expansion
  10. From engag­ing in man­age­ment to engag­ing in ministry
  11. 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.