Book Review: The Trellis and the Vine By Payne and Marshall

Vine Work & Trellis Work

Thousands of books are published every year.  Some are good; most are not. However, in every great novel, one distinguishing mark will be found.  There will inevitably be a protagonist—or rather a defining character that makes the book.

The Trellis and the Vine is not a novel, but it similarly grabs the reader’s attention with a defining analogy.  The analogy is in the title: The Trellis and the Vine.  Payne and Marshall use a simple garden trellis to describe the infrastructure and organization of gospel ministry, and the vine as the actual gospel ministry.  For example, a Sunday night service is trellis; the work done in organizing it is trellis work.  The gospel ministry done at the Sunday night service is vine and the preaching of God’s Word in the power of God’s Spirit that saves and matures is vine work.

Gospel Growth

The book then goes on to describe a different way of doing ministry.  Marshall and Payne lay out eleven mind-shifts which are simple but life-changing.  Marshall and Payne do not say that trellis work is useless but suggest that vine work is the point of ministry.  The heart of gospel ministry it is not making programs, it is not sitting on budget meetings, it is not even Sunday morning services; it is disciple-making.  Disciple-making happens on Sunday mornings but is not the only context disciple-making happens.  Marshall and Payne suggest that we need disciple-making disciples in our churches.  Furthermore, disciple-making or vine work happens everywhere—not just in church buildings.

Training Co-laborers

The end of the book focuses on how all believers need to be disciple-making disciples.  Gospel ministry is not just for pastors and leaders, but it is for every believer.  Marshall and Payne take it a little further with the focus on leaders training leaders.  I can do vine work with everyone I know but I cannot do vine work with everyone you know.  Therefore, it is imperative that leaders share the load with the whole congregation.  They need to train people in conviction (what we believe), character (how we live) and competence (how to disciple people in those first two categories).

Where You Fit In

Are you a believer?  Do you want to know what the Bible says about the Church?  Do you want to know what the Bible says about your local church?  Do you want to know how you fit in your local church?  If you answered, “yes” to any of those questions then take the next step and read.

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