Colin Marshall and Tony Payne provide a necessary and convicting challenge regarding Christian ministry in their new book The Trellis and the Vine. One thing against which they rightly warn is what several friends and I refer to as “Maintenance Mode,” something which can be a particular danger to fundamental churches and institutions (as well as to others, obviously). Hear this:
“The concentration on trellis work [structure and programs vs. “vine work”—people-building ministry] that is so common in many churches derives from an institutional view of Christian ministry. It is very possible for churches, Christian organizations and whole denominations to be given over totally to maintaining their institution.” (p. 10)
They go on to criticize the program and methodology obsession of the church growth movement (lulling most “Amen”-shouting readers into a false security) before turning their sights back on the sorts of ministries of which most of us are a part:
“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.” (p. 15)
Ouch. Is it possible the many fundamental churches and institutions (a) are more concerned with self-preservation than their God-given mission of disciple making, and (b) are distracted by maintaining traditions so that weightier matters are neglected and forgotten? I think it is. And both errors are deadening.
A fresh look at “why we do what we do” is in order, and from what I can tell thus far, The Trellis and the Vine could be a helpful part of that process. I commend it to you.
Questions? Comments? Discuss.
Filed under: Biblical Leadership, Book Reviews & Discussions, Church Marketing, Evangelism, Fundamentalism, Ministry Musings, Notable Quotes, The Local Church, What I'm Reading | Tagged: Colin Marshall, philosophy of ministry, The Trellis and the Vine, Tony Payne |