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The Trellis and the Vine

The Trellis and the Vine

Product Review (submitted on 8 December 2011):

Books on church ministry and leadership abound. It seems that everyone wants to be a mega-church and every mega-church pastor has a book describing how to become one. But, instead of the pastor as chaplain or the pastor as CEO we need a biblically faithful model which also equips the whole church and releases them into ministry. That's exactly what Colin Marshall and Tony Payne offer in The Trellis and the Vine.

Here they offer the image of a garden trellis and the vine which grows on it as a model for ministry. Without the trellis (structure) the vine cannot grow to its fullest extent. A trellis without a vine is a meaningless accessory to a life-less garden. The trellis grows as the vine grows. But, working on the trellis does not make the vine grow. Only tending to the vine will cause it to grow.

I believe that this is an incredibly helpful metaphor for pastoral ministry and the life of the church. The two prevailing patterns of church life (pastor as chaplain & pastor as CEO) are healthy or entirely biblical. They may work, but pragmatism can't be the ultimate guide to health and truth.

The beauty of this book and their vision is that while they care about building structures and leadership, they understand that ministry is ultimately about people. It's the people who matter. It's the people about whom pastors will be called to give an account. If we focus only on building structures but do not tend to the people we have not fulfilled our duty as pastors. Conversely, if we only focus on meeting peoples needs but we do not lead them, equip them and release them to do ministry alongside their pastor-coaches, then we fail to follow the biblical command (Eph. 4).

Marshall and Payne offer a refreshing model for healthy pastoral ministry. This is a well-written and helpful book that explores both the theological and the practical. They provide an image, a foundation and a plan for this vision of ministry. This is an excellent book and I plan to share it with all those who minister alongside me.


 

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