Book samples The Vine Project (Contents and Introduction) | Page 12

‘trellises’ of our church almost seem to have a life of their own. They absorb or assimilate or repel our attempts at reform and change. Maybe this talk of ‘vine work’ and of every disciple being a disciple-maker works somewhere else (on university campuses maybe) but it doesn’t seem to be catching on here. And if we’re honest about the numbers, we aren’t seeing much growth; and what little growth we see is largely the result of transfers rather than conversions. We could multiply the examples, or tease out this sort of scenario at more length, but it would only inflame the sense of unease that many pastors, elders and core church members already feel. When we work hard but don’t see growth, it hurts. It leads us to grapple with God’s sovereignty (Why isn’t he giving the growth?), to compare ourselves with others (What’s wrong with me? Why they are doing so well?), and often to hop on the latest bandwagon program or ministry model hoping for success and growth at last. 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 that the Baptist pastor from Chicago asked on behalf of nearly every evangelical church in the Western world: How can we shi