Authors: Colin Marshall & Tony Payne Reviewed by Author/Blogger Tim Challies
The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne was a surprise bestseller. Coming from a small Australian publisher, it made its way into Mark Dever’s hands and he declared it “the best book I’ve read on the nature of church ministry.” The rest, as they say, is history. Pastors and church leaders were introduced to its helpful illustration of the vine and the trellis: the vine representing gospel ministry that reaches and nourishes people, and the trellis representing the framework or structure necessary to support and sustain such ministry.
“The problem which T&V tried to name, and which struck a chord with many of its readers, is that it is very possible for a church to be busy and active, and to have all the usual programs and apparatus of church life in place, but for the basic common task of disciple-making through the prayerful speaking of the word of God to have drifted to the margins. It is very possible to have a well-built, well-maintained trellis on which a bedraggled vine is struggling to grow.”
This is the background to The Vine Project. The Vine Project is a kind of implementation guide for the principles of The Trellis and the Vine. “As we’ve talked and thought constantly about these issues over the past six years, we’ve become convinced of the need to answer the question … How can we shift the whole culture of our church in the direction of disciple-making?” To see the kind of church described in The Trellis and the Vine, it is not enough to make small, cosmetic changes. It is not enough to adapt a ministry here and there. It requires a complete change of culture. This is why the authors chose to speak of their book as a “project.” “It’s not a set of detailed answers or prescriptions delivered from on high to solve your problems. It’s a set of processes, tools and guidelines for you to work through with a small team of like-minded fellow workers—starting from wherever you happen to be, with whatever strengths and weaknesses you happen to have.”
This makes The Vine Project a book that is not just meant to be read, but a book that is meant to be done. Read more…