The trellis and the vine
Colin Marshall & Tony Payne
Matthias Media; 196 pages; ISBN: 978-1-921441585
This is a book that will challenge the reader to examine seriously the methods his or her church is following as it makes disciples of Christ in obedience to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19.
The thrust of the book is relevant, particularly when so much emphasis is being placed on methods, schemes and programmes to help Christians grow in their faith.
The authors use the analogy of growing a vine on a trellis to that of making disciples of Christ. Just as a vine needs the support of a trellis in its growth, so the believer needs the help and support of ministry programmes and other schemes in his or her spiritual development.
The punch comes, however, when the writers point out that so often today vine growing is superseded, almost eclipsed, by the care and maintenance of the trellis. Running programmes can be demanding and time consuming. The aim of the writers is not to neglect or ignore the trellis, but to re-emphasise the priority of the vine, that is, the making of disciples.
The book is divided up into twelve chapters. Basically, they are an exposition of the Great Commission given by the Lord in Matthew 28, and how this may be worked out in practice. The first five chapters lay out the biblical reasons for a radical rethink of the way in which churches seek to implement the Lord’s command. They show how easy it is to slip from vine care to trellis maintenance.
The next seven chapters describe how this is to be carried out, in terms of training Christians in discipleship. Chapter eight is of particular interest because it discusses the place of the sermon in vine-growing ministry and the work of the pastor as a trainer. This chapter draws helpfully on the example of Richard Baxter in Kidderminster.
The book is balanced and makes helpful suggestions as to how best to enable believers to be faithful disciples of Christ. Its teaching is rooted in Scripture. It comes with the recommendations of a number of highly respected church leaders who recognise the value and importance of its message. I have no hesitation in recommending it.
R. J. Johnston