The main idea: while the formal realities of organization, systems, and institution are important and even essential in church life, they all serve the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ work in people’s lives through the gospel. The running metaphor is the trellis (formal structures) and the vine (people). The trellis is important but only exists to serve the healthy growth of the vine. This may seem pretty no-brainer for our church. But, it is interesting when you really look at things you will find that at times and places we have made more of the trellis than the vine, even in an organic, relational community like ours. This book is a great reminder of keeping the focus on Jesus’ work for people, and that the vision, mission, and systems of a church should serve that in all they do.
One suggestion the authors give is that ministry is an every person thing. It is not a clergy thing. And, the most significant ministry, where the gospel grows the most, is not necessarily the big programs, run by staff, that require funding, but rather the every day moments of intentional spiritual investment that we make into peoples lives. It might be a note. A lunch where we encourage someone in the Word. A mentoring relationship. A serendipitous conversation where Jesus is promoted. A bedtime devotion with a child. An encouraging conversation focused on a Biblical truth with our spouse. These moments are where the Spirit does his greatest work at times.
My prayer is that we grow as a church where all our people are developing their belief in the every day ministry of the Word. It will be evangelistic and discipleship. It will be scheduled and impromptu. My hope, my prayer is that the vine just takes off this year in such a way that our trellis is running to catch up with it and that it takes its cues from the vine. But, I really believe this will only happen if we sincerely believe ministry is about all of us and based in the little and daily events of Word-ministry. The staff need to lead well. Our services will be thoughtful and excellent. We still want programs and events. Someone needs to administrate and to do so well. But, those supplement the everyday and every-person ministry of the Bible church. Not the other way around. I am praying for that. Will you, too?