I have just returned from a holiday in a well-known wine-growing region of France, but that is not why I am enthusiastic about vine-work. Rather, it is because I have just finished reading The Trellis and the Vine.
Others are far more able to give comprehensive reviews than I am, but a few summary observations:
- I love the focus on people and gospel growth (=maturity as well as conversion) rather than structures
- I love the emphasis on the ‘team’ nature of ministry – the role of the whole body of Christ to be involved in disciple-making – though using different gifts and with certain individuals particularly set apart for the work of teaching
- I am challenged by the changes which would need to take place in order to effectively disciple the few (and the reactions that might be provoked)
- I was helped to re-consider Matt 28:19-20 as a commission to disciple more than a commission to go (though the former may involved the latter in certain contexts – not least the context in which it was originally given)
- I was reminded of the need to be a ‘talent-spotter’ – in terms of those with the gifting and character to be fellow vine-workers
I was also profoundly thankful for the way in which some of these principles have been modelled and taught to me as I have worked in various churches. I can still hear a former colleague encouraging me to “Feed the hungry” which is a very T&V injunction. I am thankful for the gospel-heartedness of the church where I was an apprentice who not only invested in me for the 4 years I was with them, but were prepared to contribute towards the funding of my training even though I was heading into ministry in a different denomination. And of course, I am thankful for my current minister who encouraged me to read the book.
So the bottom line – definitely worth a read if you invovled in paid Christian ministry, and also worth a read if you aren’t!