Book samples The Vine Project (Contents and Introduction) | Page 11
• Where does preaching fit into what you’re saying? Won’t
your emphasis on ‘training disciples’ lead to a devaluing of
expository preaching ministry—which is something we’ve
been fighting so hard to defend and strengthen over the
• Have you ended up making ‘trellises’ (i.e. ministry structures and supports) the bad guys of church life? Is it possible
you have underplayed the systemic importance of how
church life is structured and organized? And does prioritizing ‘vine work’ over ‘trellis work’ lead to a demeaning of the
many people who spend so many hours faithfully working
on the ‘trellis’?3
We’ve been enormously blessed by the iron-sharpens-iron effect
of talking through these questions repeatedly with many different
brothers and sisters. In the chapters that follow we hope the fruit
of these conversations is seen in an improved and sharpened
presentation of the essential ministry principles first enunciated
in The Trellis and the Vine.
However, the overwhelming reason that people came to talk
with us over the past six years was to grapple with the dilemma
raised by the pastor from Chicago. In many churches around the
world, there is an immensely dissatisfying gap between what we
hope and expect the gospel will produce as it bears fruit among
us, and what we actually see day to day and Sunday to Sunday. To
put it in the terms that we argued for in The Trellis and the Vine, we
long for Great-Commission style ‘vine work’ to be the normal
agenda and priority within our churches. We yearn for every member of our congregation to grasp this and to live it—to pray for and
reach out to those around them to make new disciples, and to nurture and edify and encourage one another to maturity in Christ.
And yet, when we look at the gap between this exciting biblical
vision and the reality of church life, our hearts sometimes sink.
Our local congregations seem so complex, and so stuck in existing
habits and ways of doing things. The existing structures and
Again, for a quick summary of what we mean by ‘trellis work’ and ‘vine work’ see appendix i.
Review copy—not for distribution.
THE BI G Q U EST ION
16/03/2016 6:46 PM