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73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Mark Dever has put this book in the top ten reads of 2009. He says "This is the best book I've read on the nature of church ministry."

Possibly.

My first impression was "Welcome to the conversation - a little late, but welcome nonetheless." What Marshall and Payne have written about here has been written about many, many times in the past 10 years or so, mainly by Emergent type folk.

A lot of their suggestions and conclusions have already been suggested and concluded in various books about church ministry. What Marshall and Payne do here is articulate it through a very biblical framework - more so than other books - as well as offer a concrete way of doing church differently, and that is what makes the book good.

Their fundamental point is simple - yet transformational if churches understood it - Disciple making should be the normal agenda and priority of every church AND every Christian disciple.

EVERY Christian's focus should be to BE a disciple and to MAKE disciples and Churches and pastors are meant to be facilitating that process.

This requires a shift of focus for churches and ministries. Early on in the book they give 11 such shifts that must take place:

1. From running programs to building people
2. From running events to training people
3. From using people to growing people (huge shift away from church `volunteers')
4. From filling gaps to training new workers
5. From solving problems to helping people make progress
6. From clinging to ordained ministry to developing team leadership
7. From Focusing on Church polity to forging ministry partnerships
8. From relying on training institutions to establishing local training
9. From focusing on immediate pressures to aiming for longterm expansion
10. From engaging in management to engaging in ministry
11. From seeking church growth to desiring gospel growth.

This cannot be achieved through superficial change, or implementing small groups. In fact, for Marshall and Payne the issue goes far deeper than just starting small groups. In fact, they argue that small groups are not the issue. The small groups need to be TRAINING groups; trained on how to read the Bible, pray with each other, work on spiritual growth. Without this drive and focus small groups are useless. Even preaching is not sufficient. Yes, you heard that right; Tony Payne and Colin Marshall say on pg 102 that, Sunday sermons are necessary but not sufficient. Preaching is ONE form of the ministry of the word - not THE form.

It is always coming back to the issue of ongoing, continuous training and discipling of ALL members of the church.

One of the most interesting discussions in the book revolves around calling. How does one know that they are called to ministry, The current model is to wait for someone to say `I feel called to ministry" and then the process begins.

This is not a biblical approach for the authors. They say that pastors and elders should be talent scouts. Scripture suggests that people are called and set apart by others (see Timothy). Pastors should be actively recruiting suitable people within their churches and challenging them to expend their lives for the work of the gospel.

They write:

"When we try and discern what it is that makes that role special [the one called out for ministry] in the New Testament it's not full time verses part time or paid verses unpaid. It's not that some belong to a special priestly class and others don't. It's not even that some are gifted and others aren't because all have gifts to contribute to the building of Christ's congregation. The key thing seems to be that some are set apart or recognized or chosen, because of their convictions, character and competency and entrusted with the responsibility under God for particular ministries."

Their summary proposals are:

Summary Propositions

1. Our goal is to make disciples
2. Churches tend towards institutionalism as sparks fly upwards
3. The heart of disciple-making is prayerful teaching
4. The goal of all ministry - not just one-to-one work - is to nurture disciples
5. To be a disciple is to be a disciple-maker
6. Disciple-makers need to be trained and equipped in conviction, character and competence
7. There is only one class of disciples, regardless of different roles or responsibilities
8. The Great Commission, and its disciple-making imperative, needs to drive fresh thinking about our Sunday meetings and the place of training in congregational life
9. Training almost always starts small and grows by multiplying workers
10. We need to challenge and recruit the next generation of pastors, teachers and evangelists

As I have said, while the main content and issues have been raised many times, what makes this book special is the solutions and suggested models which the authors put forward as a way forward. Too many books in the past have raised the problems but have never given substantial proposals or suggestions for a way forward. This book gives a biblically focused framework to allow you to work through the 11 required shifts thus becoming a church which trains disciples to be disciple-making disciples.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The Trellis and the Vine focuses on doing the hard work of gospel living. That is, Christians giving of themselves through personal discipleship creating gospel growth.

The trellis represents the structure of a church including "management, finances, infrastructure, organization, governance." The vine represents gospel growth that grows around the trellis such as "planting, watering, fertilizing, and tending." (8) Very often trellis work can take over vine work since it tends to be easier see and to figure out what needs to be done. Vine work can be tougher to discern just what needs to be done and exactly how to do it.

This book tackles the aspect of vine work. The reader is moved from thinking of the church as an institution into a personal, intentional and relational understanding. The barriers of trellis thinking are broached and broken down without being dismissed. The authors attempt to get the readers thinking about vine work.

The authors explain the reasons for vine work and gives examples of how it can be done. They explain what vine work training might look like and encourage every church member to be involved. A chart of "gospel growth stages" is given using seven example people that one might find in their church. Those stages consist of outreach, follow-up, growth and training. (86-87) This is an example of one of the tools offered.

A particularly interesting chapter is Why Sunday sermons are necessary but not sufficient. The authors lay out two stereotypes of church ministry - Pastor as clergyman and Pastor as CEO. (98) Every person will probably be able to see some aspect of these stereotypes in their churches. The authors offer a another way which is the pastor as trainer. (99) This is the position the authors have been pressing in the book. The authors' position makes sense and is argued for biblically. This chapter could be a wake-up call for pastors and church members alike. Churches are challenged to evaluate a their programs, activities and structures against the gospel growth criteria presented. (108)

The book gives some very practical advice on growing a vine type of ministry in a church. The authors give examples of how it is done, where to start and some resources for training. Part of this is included in the three appendices including a helpful FAQ.

This book is a great ministry resources. It answers questions that pastoral staff may have as to how to get members intentionally involved each others lives for the gospel. Church members, both new and old, ask who are anxious to be involved in church life yet are unsure how will benefit. This book will guide them and help them ask the right questions of their pastor(s). Some long-time church members will be challenged if they are overly focused on particular programs, activities, etc. It may encroach on traditions for some though in a healthy, gospel-centered way.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This book was recommended to me by two of the other Pastors at our church. I was very encouraged as I read. I think that Marshall and Payne have done a great job of articulating what we as "the church" should be about. As a mission pastor and someone who has taught on the subject of missions often I was very encouraged by their view of the Great Commission from Matthew 28. They looked at the commission not from the aspect of "GO" as many people do, but they looked at the Great Commission from the aspect of "training". We are called not just to spread the Gospel, but to train up those that we share the Gospel with.

My favorite chapter was chapter 6. Here they clarified their concept of training. They took a compare and contrast concept of what does our culture or the English language say "training" is verses what does the Bible say that "training" is. It is different. I very much appreciated their concept of relational training verses technical or formal training. Here are some of their thoughts from the chapter that really stood out to me;

1. The heart of training is not to impart a skill, but to impart sound doctrine.
2. The apostle Paul wanted his students to imitate not only his doctrine but his way of life. Paul never abstracts ethics from doctrine, because a right understanding of the gospel always leads to a changed life.
3. The Pauline model of ministry training is that it looks a lot like parenthood. It begins as someone is instrumental in bringing someone else to new birth. It is long term and loving. It includes passing on knowledge, wisdom and practical instruction. It involves modeling and imitation. It forms not only beliefs and abilities, but also character and lifestyle.

These are just a few of their thoughts. I could go on and on, but I will just say that I highly recommend this book as a great reminder of what discipleship was meant to be, how we should function as Christians and the church and how our impact on the culture will be enhanced if we take time to "Train" up the body of Christ.

This book is not a book about "what programs work" but about "why relationships and training trump programs every time". Don't get me wrong or the author's wrong. Programs are not bad, it's just that we as the church have push programs so hard that our scales dip very strongly towards programs and very weakly towards training in discipleship.

Enjoy reading, you will be renewed and challenged.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Reformation is good. By that, I mean the continual God-glorifying re-evaluation of your ministry in light of what the scripture says. We need to ask the really hard questions. Ligon Duncan asks these types of questions as he writes his endorsement on the back of this book, "Why are we doing what we are doing? Are we focusing on the right things? Is the gospel central? Are we making disciples? Has `administry' trumped ministry? Is our corporate life and mission biblically shaped?"

In this book, Marshall and Payne draw upon an illustration of trellis-work and vine-work to point ministry leaders back to basic point of ministry - building and nurturing disciples of Jesus Christ. "Trellis work", such a meetings, finances, buildings, infrastructure, organization, etc are helpful but they can take over from "vine-work" of building into people.

The biblical basis for such a mind shift is drawn from Ephesians 4, Colossians 1:5-6, 1 Peter, Acts, and Matthew 16. The scriptures thus speak of gospel growth and increase of the word of God, bearing fruit in the lives of believers as they grow in the knowledge and love of God (pg 37). These scriptures require that we must "abandon ourselves to Christ and His gospel" realizing that God is focused on people-growth by the power of His Spirit (pg 38-39).

We need a mind shift...
1. From running programs to building people
2. From running events to training people. This will be inherently more chaotic and it takes time, but we will have to "relinquish control of our programs for, as the gospel is preached, Christ will gather His people..."(pg 19).
3. From using people to growing people.
4. From filling gaps to training new workers. Instead of asking, "who can fill this gap in our personnel?" to "What ministry could this member exercise?"
5. From solving problems to helping people make progress
6. From clinging to ordained ministry to developing team leadership.
7. From focusing on church polity to forging ministry partnerships
8. From relying on training institutions to establishing local training
9. From focusing on immediate pressures to training for long-term expansion
10. From engaging in management to engaging in ministry
11. From seeking church growth to desiring gospel growth

A proper understanding of ministry occurs as we view one another as partners in the Gospel of grace, living as citizens of heaven (Philippians1:7, 27-30), contending side-by-side, suffering for the sake of the Gospel (pg 66-67).

Training, as the authors define it, is at the heart of ministry. It is "much more about Christian thinking and living than about particular skills and competencies" (pg 70). It I about "...quality of character and behavior based on the sound doctrine of the Scriptures." (pg 71) 1 Tim 4:7 says, "...train yourself for godliness." (c.f. Heb 5:14 2 Tim 2:16-17). We are to model such that others imitate our "Gospel way of living" (pg 72-76). "Our goal should not simple be to `get people into small groups.". Unless Christians are taught and trained to meet with each other to read the Bible and pray with each other, and to urge and spur one another on to love and good works, the small group structure will not be effective for spiritual growth" (pg 100). As Paul did, A Christian leader should be about looking for a small band co-workers (2 Tim 2:2), those that will labor with him and "multiply themselves" to the larger fellowship.

There is so much more in this book than I can cover here. Read it for yourself. Don't simply rely on a book review like this. You will find yourself mulling about in the Scriptures and thinking through the faces and names within your own ministry circles. Who knows? This may cause a fundamental re-evaluation and excitement about your ministry so that you return to the basics of ministry - building disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Two different traditions may define the role of the pastor. The older, more traditional view is that the pastor is a clergyman. He carries out religious services and ministers personally to the congregation. A newer approach suggests that the pastor is a CEO of sorts. He manages and leads an organization to accomplish its goals.

I personally feel the tension between these two approaches all the time. The expectation of many church members is for the former, but every exciting book and speaker suggests the latter.

In The Trellis and the Vine, Colin Marshal and Tony Payne suggest a new approach: The pastor as "trainer." In actuality, all disciples are called to be disciple-makers. In this approach, the role of the pastor is to train disciples, who will in turn make disciples and train disciples. The pastor serves as more of a player-captain to the team rather than clergy to the parishioner or managing director to the organization.

This approach means a lot to me. After a very negative experience in ministry, I came to the realization that ministry must be about people rather than programs. For me, the traditional approach had a sort of emptiness to it. The pastor-clergyman would visit, teach, counsel, and pray, but all that he did seemed to only carry as much weight as his title. His words didn't matter, nor his advice, and for that matter, his theology, only his title. I didn't find the answer in the contemporary model. The pastor-CEO has so much invested in programs that they must be carried out, often at the expense of people. This was contrary to ministry and seemed to drive further and further from the Gospel all the while seeking to draw people to it. The concept of the pastor as a member of the team, training people for ministry is simple, biblical, and exciting.

However, it isn't that simple. Marshal and Payne cast a big vision. They suggest a church that is made up of people following Christ and leading others to follow Christ. They desire to see disciples making disciples, with the pastor and elders training more and more "vineworkers." Their vision expands all the way to practical advice on how to encourage more church members into the gospel ministry.

I recommend this book as it does propose a necessary shift in thinking. I would love to see what a church with so much invested in people would look like. I want to see the church where everyone works to further the purposes of God; where disciples are made and taught to make more disciples; where leaders emerge and plant entirely new works. That's the vision cast in this book, and its one I long to see.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 21, 2013
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
The premise of the book . . . that over time structure will trump the organic, living aspects of community (church) . . . has application to any number of organizations, and to top it off, it's well written, simple but not simplistic and filled with practical insights that are easily applied. A good read for anyone interested in organization dynamics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This is an outstanding book on the nature of Christian ministry. The book is centered around a metaphor for two types of ministry work: "trellis work" and "vine work". Just as a trellis is a support structure upon which a vine grows, trellis work in the church deals with administration, infrastructure, and various programs, while vine work is anything dealing with drawing people into the kingdom and discipling them so that they will grow in the Lord.

This is an extension of a metaphor used frequently in Scripture. In the Old Testament, Israel is referred to as a vine which is tended by God (Ps. 80:8-15; Jer. 2:21; Is. 5:1-7; Ez. 15:1-8). He plants the vine, He causes it to grow, He chooses the direction in which it will grow, and He prunes it when it gets wild. In the New Testament, Jesus takes the metaphor further, claiming in John 15 that He IS the true vine (notice that the Father is still the vinedresser). The only way for a person to grow and to bear fruit is to be in Him.

The book's ultimate purpose is to help churches to grow "disciple-making disciples". This is done by finding the proper balance between trellis work and vine work. While most churches seem to over-emphasize trellis work, I was glad to see that the authors did not over-react (as others have done) by suggesting that churches neglect administrative work altogether. Rather, trellis work should be done with the focus being on how best to cultivate the growth of the vine -- both in the "going forth" of the Gospel (evangelism) and the "bearing fruit" of individual Christians (discipleship).

This is primarily accomplished through 11 specific mindset changes which the authors say will "change everything": (1) from running programs to building people; (2) from running events to training people; (3) from using people to growing people; (4) from filling gaps to training new workers; (5) from solving problems to helping people make progress; (6) from clinging to ordained ministry to developing leadership teams; (7) from focusing on church polity to forging ministry partnerships; (8) from relying on training institutions to establishing local training; (9) from focusing on immediate pressures to aiming for long-term expansion; (10) from engaging in management to engaging in ministry; and (11) from seeking church growth to desiring gospel growth.
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on June 14, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Our pastors recommended this book to me! They are contemplating making major changes in our church so that many more of us can become "disciple-making disciples." The title put me off at first--the word "trellis" doesn't seem very masculine to me. But the analogy is right on! If you're like me, you know that something is significantly wrong with most of our churches. AND you know that the never-ending stream of faddish books and suggested changes have all fallen far short of expectations! This book takes a hard look at the discipleship Jesus modelled and taught, as well as our major distortions. Informative and transformational--highest recommendations!
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on January 29, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
It's easy for churches to end up on one of two ministry philosophy poles. One end is the idea that the pastor and elders are responsible for ministry inside and outside the church. The other end says we just need small groups to grow and loving on people will win and build Christians.

This book does a fantastic job of balancing the importance of pastoral gifts and ministry with the flocks' responsibility to be at work making disciples as well. It's a very practical book that was helpful for a PCA ruling elder whose church needs to remember that all o us should be at work tending the vine.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Books on pastoral leadership, organization, and church growth proliferate with astonishing rapidity these days, and few have a truly meaningful impact on ministry. Fewer still derive their ideas from Scripture and build a ministry model on faithful exposition rather than cultural trends, personal experience, or rehashing of conventional wisdom.

Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, two Australian Christian leaders, have broken that mold with their insightful, Gospel-centric book, The Trellis and the Vine. The title flows from the book's central metaphor of the vine (i.e. the work of the Gospel through preaching and discipleship) supported by the trellis (i.e. the administrative and support structures that facilitate the key functions of the Body of Christ). Both are crucial to the mission of the Church, but the trellis only exists to support the vine.

Marshall and Payne argue that the Western Church is often so preoccupied with "trellis work" in the form of programs, buildings, and member care that the "vine work" to which we are actually called suffers. They remind readers that Christ is the one at work in growing the vine, and that expanding the trellis follows growth of the vine rather than driving it. They call church leaders to take stock of where their congregations are spending time and resources and refocus on the Word and helping people be shaped into Christlikeness through discipleship.

After building a solid, scriptural foundation, the authors outline the practical side of the "mind-shift" they advocate. They propose that churches pursue a philosophy of training that steers everything they are involved in toward the growth of the vine. This training encompasses pulpit ministry (which is the training of the whole congregation in the Word), but extends to faithful exhortation of church members one-on-one to grow deeper in relationship with Christ and fulfill their calling.

Obviously, the commitment to individual discipleship is a responsibility that a single pastor (or even a pastoral team) cannot fulfill. To that end, Marshall and Payne recommend ministry apprenticeship by which members of the congregation who are strong in their faith be trained to walk with seekers and newer believers and to extend pastoral care to the whole body. They encourage leaders not to hoard talent, but to be constantly training individuals and be thankful, rather than discouraged, when some are called to move to other churches or to the mission field--this replication and movement of disciples is exactly how the early Church spread all over the known world in just a few decades.

Throughout the book, the authors attempt to ground all their recommendations in Scripture. They draw heavily on the ministry of Christ (and His focus on training a few core followers in the midst of His public ministry) and point out that even a strong personality like the Apostle Paul relied heavily on a vast network of co-laborers to do the work of the Gospel. Their ideas are sound, and their passion for drawing churches back to the biblical model of God-centered, God-driven spiritual growth oozes from every page.

If you are stuck wondering why your church is struggling and your ministry is stagnating, read this book. If your church is flourishing, growing by leaps and bounds, and blessing its members and surrounding community in astonishing ways, read this book. It presents a truly a one-size-fits-all model for ministry because it presents a clearly biblical picture of what church ministry should be. The last thing the Church needs is someone else telling us how to "do church," and The Trellis and the Vine rightly tells us who we are as the Church, and lets the "doing" flow from God's call on the lives of His followers.
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