According to Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, all churches have Trellis work and Vine work.  The struggle that every church (and I would also include para-church ministries) faces is prioritizing and balancing the two different kinds of work.  
Trellis work involves administrative work – paying the bills, writing letters, planning out schedules, running events and programs.  It is often work that must be done.  But, it often becomes overwhelming and burdensome.  On the other hand, “The basic work of any Christian ministry is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of God’s Spirit, and to see people converted, changed and grow to maturity in that gospel.”  (p. 8)  This is the Vine work.
In their book, the authors encourage church leaders to focus more on Vine work and less on Trellis work.  Tending the vine must be the priority. 

Ministry Mind-Shifts
The authors begin chapter 2 with the following statement, “Over the course of this book, we are going to suggest that most Christian churches today need to undertake a radical re-evaluation of what Christian ministry really is.”  (p. 17)  They then proceed to list 11 mind-shifts that churches need to make:

  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 minstry
  11. From seeking church growth to desiring gospel growth

The book challenges church leaders to be ‘talent scouts.’ (p. 139)  We should be looking for the next generation of christian leaders.  They are the ones that should be our summer interns.  We should be giving them ample ministry opportunities such as preaching, leading the choir & congregational music, directing VBS, teaching Sunday School & Junior Church, etc.  Here at FBC, we should be actively looking for the next Jerry Smith, Dorothy Malcolm, or Mary Pence.  We should be coming alongside our young people to disciple them and encourage them to pursue christian ministry.  In fact, the authors would argue that investing time and energy into one or two individuals is more important than starting a new program or ministry. 

The authors also accurately realize that “recruiting people for ministry, training them as apprentices, and sending them off to Bible college will result in a steady departure of your best and most gifted church members.”  (p. 149)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it.  I was amazed at how quickly and easily I was able to read the book.  It is not overly scholarly, but is an accessible read.  I have already promoted to others and given away several copies.  It has challenged my thinking regarding my ministry here at FBC.  I challenge you to get a copy and read it today.  The book is available through Westminster Bookstore or Amazon.


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