Monday, 20 December 2010

the trellis and the vine

I thought I'd take a brief break from the 'engaging with popular culture' series that I've been posting on recently.

I was meant to be heading home to Hartlepool last night but due to the slightly chilly(!) weather conditions I've decided to stay here. As a result I'm doing a few extra days work, and this morning was spent reading the excellent book 'The Trellis and the Vine' by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne.

This book seemed to take the blogging world by storm a few months back, when everyone seemed to be blogging on it. I must admit that when I was reading the reviews I was intrigued by what it seemed the book had to say and really looked forward to reading it.

I wasn't disappointed.

The premise of the book is basically this: churches today can often seem preoccupied with maintenance and upkeep of the structures and programmes that they have in place (the trellis) rather than doing the much more important work of nurturing and encouraging growth of the vine.

The authors push for a model of church in which each of the congregation are 'disciple-making-disciples'. The pastor is (rather than a preacher and service-provider or preacher and manager) a preacher and a trainer, and he undertakes the slow but fruitful task of investing time in people to help them grow in conviction, character and competence. They then do the work of word ministry in getting alongside fellow Christians and helping them to grow (making disciples!), and getting alongside non-Christians and sharing the gospel with them (making disciples!). The way that each individual does this and their main focus will depend on their particular gifting. Some will be trained to be trainers, and thus multiply the ministry.

They concede that this may be more messy, having a less neat and obvious structure. They confess that it takes time and may mean significant cut backs in the organised ministry of the church initially. But they argue (and I think I agree) that in doing this you enable a whole host of people to be doing important kingdom work, and the long term result for the kingdom is worth it.

Have you read this? What are your thoughts? If not, I recommend it - let me know what you think!

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