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From the Introduction:
The image of the trellis and the vine raises all the fundamental questions of Christian ministry:
What is the vine for?
How does the vine grow?
How does the vine relate to my church?
What is vine work and what is trellis work, and how can we tell the difference?
What part do different people play in growing the vine?
How can we get more people involved in vine work?
What is the right relationship between the trellis and the vine?
In the following chapters, we will be suggesting that there is an urgent need to answer these questions afresh. Confusion reigns. Everyone wants their churches to grow, but most are unsure how and where to start. Church growth gurus come and go. Ministry methods fall in and out of favour like women’s fashion. We troop from one new technique to the next, hoping that this one (at last!) may be the secret to success.
Even among those godly, faithful pastors who avoid the trendsetting fads of Christian marketing, there is confusion— most especially between what Christian ministry is in the Bible, and what Christian ministry has become in the particular tradition or denomination of which they are part. We are all captive to our traditions and influenced by them more than we realize. And the effect of tradition and long practice is not always that some terrible error becomes entrenched; more often it is that our focus shifts away from our main task and agenda, which is disciple-making. We become so used to doing things one way (often for good reason at first) that important elements are neglected and forgotten, to our cost. We become imbalanced, and then wonder why we go in circles.