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,
Review copy—not for distribution.
SETTING THE SCENE
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