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What’s growing at your church?

The vine or the size of the trellis?

Many books quickly flash with excitement and then pass into the waste bin of history when they no longer speak to the time at hand. And then there are books like The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne.

For those who didn’t pick it up when it was published more than 10 years ago, or have been unable to read it since, a quick primer may be needed. In short, the “trellis” is the administrative apparatus of the church, and the “vine” refers to the actual work of evangelism and discipleship. The latter produce fruit, while the former, though necessary, may actually just be a distraction from the true goal.

Vines need a trellis to grow well, but the question asked while reading this book is: How much time are we spending focused on beautifying and strengthening inanimate objects and processes versus living, breathing, fruit-bearing vines?

As the hands and feet of the local church, are we people-focused or systems-focused? Neither can be ignored, but in the end, our aim needs to be training up disciples who go and make disciples. Any book, resource, or ministry that points our attention to that goal is to be commended.

It’s books like The Trellis and the Vine that encourage us to press on in our mission at Baptist Church Planters. When a church needs to be planted, a leader needs to be helped, or a discipleship needs to be fostered, begin with the focus on people. The ministries, processes, and building strategy are nice to think about, but they can never take the place of prominence that people have in God’s plan for His Church.

May we all abide in the True Vine as we care for the vines He’s given us to tend.

To God be the glory now and forevermore.


Our team at Baptist Church Planters exists to care for churches and church leaders looking to grow healthy vines in their churches for fruit in their communities and around the world. If you would like help leading your church toward God-glorifying growth, reach out to us today and Get a Partner.

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