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 past generation? • 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 3 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 TVP-2016-txt-ART.indd 15 15 16/03/2016 6:46 PM