“Brooklyn Museum – The Vineyards at Cagnes (Les Vignes à Cagnes) – Pierre-Auguste Renoir” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 51.219_colorcorrected_SL1.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –
An agenda is one of the items on a list up for discussion in a meeting. It is not the primary reason for the existence of the organization. An agenda is also an underlying motive or a scheme. Is Jesus the Christian agenda?
The Trellis, the Branches and the Vine
You probably have not heard about Marshall and Payne. I only learned about the two, three days ago from Tim Challies’ blog. Thanks Tim. Of course, their names sound like the latest rock band touring America. No, they are two guys from down under, Australia, who joined hands and wrote The Trellis and The Vine. I have not read the book yet, but from the premise alone, I look forward to reading it soon.
Good Job Marshall and Payne.
To me it always felt like a very ordinary and unremarkable statement of the patently obvious: that our main focus in ministry ought to be on growing people as disciples of Christ (‘the vine’), not on running church programs and structures (‘the trellis’).
Tony Payne, Doing the Obvious
I did not know they have the problem in Australia, too. Three weeks after arriving in the US, I walked through the doors of a church. It was obvious, this small church’s main focus was people. There were no fancy programs, people just met and minister to each other. There was one problem. I was an outlier, not because of my skin color, but my age. At only 26, I was half the age of the youngest person in the church. My youthful desire led me to a young vibrant church. And the tables turned, the focus was the program and the church structures.
The new church was awesome. The lighting, stage work, music, video system and coffee bar were out of this world. The membership was beyond 4,000 mark, but that was all. Through my naivety, I made church home. Well, until trouble knocked on my door. At that time, all I needed was a church that considered me the branches of the vine. Of course, not that church, they had the fog system to take care of.
The church spammed my inbox with reminders of programs, but when, in dire straits, I sent a plea for help, to more than five staff members, including two pastors, no one responded. Except one pastor, “Can you please provide additional info/details…”. Excited I detailed the help (just a letter saying the church would be there for me when I needed help), that was the last I heard from him. The next time I heard from him, he was teaching on the importance of love among believers.
Sir, we wish to see Jesus
Reading Payne’s thoughts on challies.com, I remembered the words of Christ, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). Although the trellis is required to help the branches spread and grow well, it does not affect the vine at all. Jesus never said, the person who sticks to the trellis will bear much fruit, but the one who abides in Him. No amount of trellising, pruning or vine training will make a branch produce fruit, as long as it is detached from the vine.
If we make our church comfortable, our music good, give to the community, feed the homeless, then people will know about our church and come to our church. When they come they will hear about Jesus.”
When we shift our paradigm from the trellis to the branches we become aware of one of the most obvious things we are quick to forget. The branches cannot survive without the vine. The more the church focus on the branches, its weakness and insufficiency becomes more obvious creating a shift in paradigm toward Jesus. No minister can sufficiently serve the needs of the congregation, and they are not supposed to. We all need each other, unfortunately, most churches have a subtle message that we all need the pastor, and Jesus is one of the agendas on his to talk about list. Please, stop making Jesus an agenda!
How can we move from the trellis to the vine?
So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”
I present posts about God's Word, with a personal focus on how God's grace is received through saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ... Sinners must understand and obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ... See this link for more...