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.
Buy it here.