Key Questions for Growing the Vine

Col began the second session of today’s workshop with a story of a young cricket player who embraced the gospel after two years of intentional ministry of the Word. In summary, Col said that the careful, personal proclamation of the gospel, alongside the public, is being used by God to call people to himself.

Why Do We Do Small Groups?

The session then moved into the subject of small group ministry within the local church. The pace of the sessions are helpful, weaving the teaching by Col and Tony with focused discussion by the pastors gathered. The first question posed to elicit discussion was simply, “Why do we have small groups?”

The 100 pastors huddled into groups of two or three and began to express their vision behind what has become ordinary for evangelical churches since the 1980s. The answers exchanged sounded positive. Repeated words that I heard tossed around were “accountability,” “community,” “discipleship,” “gospel growth,” “prayer together.”

Col quickly flashed a picture on the screen of a family that he introduced hypothetically as “visitors to your church this past Sunday.” He followed this with another discussion-inducing question: “What happened to these people who visited your church?”

A Community of Vine-Growers

After the conversations settled, the meat of the teaching got fully underway.

Commenting on the metaphor—"the trellis and the vine"—the trellis is the structure that is intended to support the work of the vine, never take it over. While trellis work is important, the aim is the vine. They encapsulate this idea in their book:

The basic work of any Christian ministry is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in the power of God’s Spirit, and to see people converted, changed and grow to maturity in that gospel. That’s the work of planting, watering, fertilizing and tending the vine (8).

In the effort to do this we must create as many contexts as possible in which Christians are prayerfully reading the Bible with other people. We want our people to be vine-growers. This led to the next question for discussion: “What would our Sunday services look like if our members were vine-growers?”

After responses were offered, Col summarized the difference of Sunday.

  • He mentioned the training of disciple-makers and using preaching to model for our people how to interpret and apply the Bible.
  • He mentioned the importance of music, not for performance but for catechesis. The main thing about music in the church is the voices that sing. We are to hear one another—“addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.”
  • Lastly, Sundays should become accessible for unbelievers. The church service should be a place where people bring their friends and neighbors.


Notes from Other Sessions