The Trellis and the Vine: Discussion Questions

The Trellis and the Vine

By Colin Marshall and Tony Payne


Chapter 1 – The Trellis and the Vine

·       Can you clearly identify the ministries in our church that are “trellis” building and those that are “vine” tending?

·       Honestly, do you spend more time on building the trellis or tending the vine in your ministry?


Chapter 2 – Ministry Mind-Shifts

·       Which ministry mind-shift was most compelling for you to consider?

·       Do these mind-shifts make you feel overwhelmed considering what you already do in the ministry? Did you have the same reaction that the pastor on the bottom of page 27 has?


Chapter 3 – What in the world is God doing?

·       Do you agree with the distinction between “church growth” and “Gospel growth” that the authors make? If so, how can your ministry focus more on Gospel growth than it is?

·       How could you abandon yourself to the cause of Christ and His Gospel more than you already are?


Chapter 4 – Is Every Christian a Vine-Worker?

·       Do you agree that every Christian should have a “vine tending” ministry of speaking the Word?

·       Do you have more “Bible studies” in your church than you do “book studies”? Is there a difference?

·       What kind of ministries are sprouting up in your church that reflect this kind of priority?


Chapter 5 – Guilt or Grace?

·       What does this chapter have to do with guilt or grace?

·       How are church leaders/officers leaders and officers?

·       How are they “just partners” (p.67)?


Chapter 6 – The Heart of Training

·       What do the authors mean by “relational training”? Do you agree that is what the Bible primarily means when it speaks of training?

·       They use the analogy of parenthood to describe what they mean by training. Can you think of any other analogies that might help clarify the issue?

·       Are the “three Cs” (p.78) similar to “head, heart and hands” training?


Chapter 7 – Training and Gospel Growth

·       What are the pros and cons of programs?

·       Is your ministry more program driven or people driven? How can you tell? Did the diagnostic tool help you come to any conclusions about your ministry?

·       How does 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14 support the idea that it is not just those in local church leadership who should be vine tenders?


Chapter 8 – Why Sunday Sermons are Necessary but not Sufficient

·       Is the pastoral ministry of our church more typified by the clergyman or the CEO?

·       What plan do you have in mind to encourage your church to move more toward the “pastor as trainer” model?

·       Do you agree that the sermon is necessary but insufficient? What should we do outside the public preaching and teaching ministries of your church to equip the saints?


Chapter 9 – Multiplying Gospel Growth through Training Co-workers

·       Do you find it counter-intuitive to spend most of your time ministering to people who are in need of “training” as opposed to those who are in need of “help”?

·       Is the authors’ recommendation of training a small group of people who can train others a realistic paradigm for ministry in your church? Do you see any weaknesses inherent in this paradigm based on what you’ve already accomplished and the expectations you’ve already built in people’s minds?


Chapter 10 – People worth Watching

·       Do you believe that God must “call” people to the ministry before they serve? Why or why not?

·       What are the two errors we fall into when challenging people about gospel ministry according to the authors on p.138? Do you agree?


Chapter 11 – Ministry Apprenticeship

·       What particular benefits of an apprenticeship have you experienced as noted in this chapter?

·       What particular mistakes have no made that the authors have listed on p.148-149?


Chapter 12 – Making a Start

·       Why do “churches tend toward institutionalism as sparks fly upward”?

·       Do you prefer “conviction, character and competence” or “head, heart and hands”?

·       What are the biggest obstacles to you “making a start” on some vine work?