Book samples The Vine Project (Contents and Introduction) | Page 14

church is at a different point on the spectrum, has different strengths and weaknesses, faces different obstacles, and, crucially, has different people whom God has blessed it with. Some of you may look at your church and see the need for root-and-branch reform; others may feel that you’re broadly heading in the right direction but need an injection of growth and change. Some of you may even be at the point of planting a brand new church, and be in a position to start shaping the culture from scratch. And yet despite our different starting points, the essential process of change, the tools of change, and the desired outcomes for change are common across all churches, because they have their roots not only in the way that groups of people (like churches) function and grow, but in the character and purposes and acts of God for his people. That’s why (somewhat unusually) we’ve called this book 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 likeminded fellow workers—starting from wherever you happen to be, with whatever strengths and weaknesses you happen to have. This means that The Vine Project is not a book just to read, like all those other ministry books that you buy at conferences and read and feel mildly enthused by for a time, but which ultimately go to their home on the shelf with all the others. It’s a project. It outlines a process to work through and talk over. It’s a book that should lead to a plan and to actions taking place over time. This is why it’s a book that is likely to take you several years to finish—not, we hasten to add, because the content is vastly long or complex, but because the process it guides you through is not a quick fix. Church growth and change, like all Christian growth and change, takes time. It takes real-world implementation and patience. It is liable to false starts and hiccups. It needs constant monitoring and review and changes of direction to account for new or unexpected circumstances. At regular points in what follows, you’ll be prompted to talk things over, evaluate your current circumstances, devise plans, take action, work on mini-projects, 18 TVP-2016-txt-ART.indd 18 Review copy—not for distribution. SETTING THE SCENE 16/03/2016 6:46 PM