One of my biggest goals for the next 5 years with the Bricks is to see God develop men as leaders (see these posts). An excellent summary of this approach can be found in The Trellis and the Vine. It isn’t so much that this book changed my thinking, as that I found myself agreeing with it. It did help me organize my thinking and brought my thoughts into clear focus in many areas. It is an excellent book.
I won’t take the time to write a proper review, but Tim Challies has already given an excellent overview on his blog.
The Trellis and the Vine is a metaphor Colin Marshall and Tony Payne use to introduce a mind-shift in ministry that they insist will change everything. That is no small claim. A trellis, of course, is a structure that is used to support, to hold up, a vine. In this metaphor the trellis refers to the administrative work within a church, those tasks that, though important, are not actually directly related to discipling people. Vine work, on the other hand, is those tasks of working with the vine, drawing people into the kingdom through evangelism and then training them to grow in their knowledge of God and their obedience to him. As the authors say, “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.” The problem, though, is that trellis work tends to take over from vine work. Perhaps it’s because trellis work is easier and less threatening; perhaps the trellis work looks more impressive. But for one reason or another, many Christians, and pastors in particular, soon find themselves consumed with trellis work, leaving them little time and attention for the vine. “Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that in many churches, maintaining and improving the trellis constantly takes over from tending the vine.”
What Marshall and Payne suggest in this book is that most Christian churches need to undergo a radical re-evaluation of what Christian ministry really is. They need to go back to the very basics to understand the aims and goals of ministry, to learn how it proceeds and to see afresh the part we play in it.