Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Book Review: The Trellis and the Vine

If there's one book that should be read by all in ministry (apart from the Bible, of course), it is definitely this book. Drawing on thirty years of ministry and training gospel workers, Colin Marshall (affectionately known as Col Marshall) and Tony Payne, present a parable of church life in The Trellis and the Vine.

Drawing on John 15, the vine is the church, the people of God. Jesus, the vine, is growing his church, as more people are drawn into relationship with him, and they become fruitful in the kingdom. Vine work is to preach the gospel and bring the people of God to maturity. Vital stuff - there's something wrong if churches and ministers in particular aren't doing this.

But at the same time, the vine needs to be supported. This is where the trellis comes in - the trellis supports the vine, and so we have the necessary factors of finance, organisation, a meeting place, leadership, denominational structures etc. Yet it's so easy to get diverted away from Vine work into Trellis work - to be very busy, yes, but to completely neglect the very purpose the church exists for: vine work.

Having identified the 'root' problem, Marshall and Payne help ministers to work out their working out, and how to get the church back on track to the primacy of vine work. To get there, we need a change in ministry mindset, as well as identifying the leaders to train up, and help others get involved in vine work (which is for all Christians, not just 'ordained' people).

As I've said, this book is vital for church leaders to consider their priorities and to help them get back to vine work, which is the reason we're in church leadership in the first place. Lots of challenges in the book, but that's no bad thing, so there's plenty to think through and work through both now, and in the next x years of ministry. This might even be a good book for church committees / elderships / Select Vestries to work through together, discussing the issues that are raised. Get it from the Good Book Company. Check out the recommendation by Mark Dever:

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