This chapter lists specific areas where the change from trellis to vine will occur. Without covering each particular element (buy the book), I wish to consider three general themes to the approach. These themes are present in the list provided within T&V – and these will apply to other circumstances not specifically addressed in the chapter.
Start with the Holy Spirit’s Gifts, Given by the Grace of Christ
In Ephesians 4, Paul explains that Jesus obtained gifts of ministry for the church:
7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” 9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Ephesians 4:7–16 (ESV)
Christ came to the earth and through his death, burial, resurrection and ascension became the one to distribute gifts to men. These gifts have been distributed to and within the church:
But to every-one. He now describes the manner in which God establishes and preserves among us a mutual relation. No member of the body of Christ is endowed with such perfection as to be able, without the assistance of others, to supply his own necessities. A certain proportion is allotted to each; and it is only by communicating with each other, that all enjoy what is sufficient for maintaining their respective places in the body.
John Calvin, Ephesians, electronic ed., Calvin’s Commentaries (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998), Eph 4:7. 1 Corinthians 12 adds:
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. 1 Corinthians 12:4–11 (ESV)
Take these two passages together: The church is a place in which Christ gives gifts which are apportioned by the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit wills. Thus, a particular congregation is a particular assemblage of gifts given and arranged for the purpose of making those people in-that-congregation disciples of Jesus Christ.
Thus, when working through the matters of ministry, it would be wisest to start with the Holy Spirit’s gifts – not the ministry structure we have maintained for 20 years. Trellis work starts with the structure and looks for people to keep the trellis aloft.
Train the Workers for the Work
The gifts of the Holy Spirit take development and training. Consider this: Jesus sent the disciples to Jerusalem where they remained awaiting the gift of the Spirit. And while they waited, they “devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). In those days Peter also instructed the disciples (Acts 1:15, et seq.). They prepared for ministry by choosing Matthias. When Paul gives instructions to Timothy on deacons and elders, he cautions against recent converts and those who are untested. Paul specifically instructs Timothy to “teach and urge these things” (1 Tim. 6:2). Paul tells Timothy to follow a pattern of sound words, i.e., a body of knowledge in which Timothy was trained (2 Tim. 1:13). Paul tells Timothy to “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and to teaching”.
In short, ministry work requires preparation:
1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. 2 Timothy 2:1–2 (ESV)
An interesting note from T&V on the failure to train:
Volunteers are the ones who maintain and expand church programs. …The danger of having such willing volunteers is that we use them, exploit them and forget to train them. They burn out and their ministry is curtailed, and we find that we have failed to develop their Christian life and ministry potential (T&V 19-20).
The Church is Local and Global
Sometimes we can become so chauvinistic regarding our personal congregation that we resent or do not seek to train those who will or may not stay within our own congregation:
Once we’ve spent time and resources training our leaders, we soon fear losing them. …We must be exporters of train people instance of hoarders of trained people (T&V, 25).
The work of ministry primarily takes place within local congregations. I love the local congregation and I love the local congregation where I attend and serve. However, this local congregation is little more than a tiny fort of a great army spread out over time and across the earth. When a trained ministry is transferred to another different fort, the work still goes to the same army even if it does not go to the same fort. The analogy works as well with hospital and medical workers (another image of the church – both are true, it is an army and a hospital).