Monday, December 07, 2009

"The Best Book on the Nature of Church Ministry," says Mark Dever

I remember a couple months back sitting in Mark Dever's study as he was reading the manuscript for a new book, The Trellis and the Vine. I can only think of a couple books that provoked so much enthusiasm from Mark. He doesn't normally do superlatives, as he alludes to in this video. Here's his plug for "the best book on the nature of church ministry," The Trellis and the Vine.

Here are some of the endorsements for the book from the Matthias Media website:

Commendations for 'The Trellis and the Vine'

What Col and Tony have described here is exactly what I've been trying to do in my own life and in our congregation for years. According to this book, Christians are to be disciple-making disciples and pastors are to be trainers. Superb! This book sets out a crucial shift that is needed in the mindset of many pastors. The authors have carefully listened to the Bible. And they've worked on this book. The result is a book that is well-written and well- illustrated, but even more, a book that is full of biblical wisdom and practical advice. This is the best book I've read on the nature of church ministry.
Mark Dever, Senior Pastor, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington DC, USA

I am thrilled that this book has been written! What God has done in Sydney over the last few decades is nothing less than supernatural?-and we in South Africa have long been the beneficiaries. The model of ministry presented in this book has left an indelible mark on my own ministry and been of inestimable value to the denomination I belong to. The mindsets put forth in this book have not only impacted many of our churches, but have changed our regional thinking, planning and strategy. We are indebted to Col and Tony for putting into words a culture of ministry that is biblically pragmatic, deeply theological and, above all, passionately concerned for the lost.
Grant Retief, Rector, Christ Church, Umhlanga, South Africa

This is a simple, beautiful book that I plan to have every pastor and elder at The Village Church read. It quietly and calmly beckons us back to biblical, hands-on shepherding and is a book desperately needed among large churches in the West.
Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas, USA

Gospel ministry is about God's glory and God's people! This excellent book takes us right to the heart of authentic Christian ministry. Any church will benefit hugely from studying and acting on it.
William Taylor, Rector, St Helen's Bishopsgate, London, UK

For over twenty years, I have seen the ideas in this excellent book developed, tested and improved in the active ministry of the gospel. They are the kind of counter-intuitive ideas that, once encountered and embraced, make you wonder why you did not always think this way.
Phillip D. Jensen, Dean, St Andrew's Cathedral, Sydney, Australia

If I could put only one new book into the hands of every person preparing for ministry today, The Trellis and the Vine would be it. Marshall and Payne leverage decades of experience in one of the world's great cities with the hope of stimulating gospel growth around the globe. This book will also refresh every pastor who has ever asked, "What in the world am I supposed to be doing?" I came away energized, strengthened in my core calling and better prepared to bear fruit for Christ. In fact, it's so good that I want every leader and pastoral intern in our church to read it!
David Helm, Pastor, Holy Trinity Church, Chicago, Illinois, USA

It is impossible to read The Trellis and the Vine without having your cherished ministry assumptions profoundly challenged. In your hands is a God-glorifying, scripturally-soaked re-evaluation of Christian ministry. It will untangle the anomaly of being a Christian without a radical missionary heart. It will identify the plethora of ministry structures that owe more to cultural pragmatism than the Bible. And above all, it will inspire us to serve the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
Richard Chin, National Director, Australian Fellowship of Evangelical Students, Sydney, Australia

God makes ministers in the midst of his church. It is in the context of the faithful local church that ministers are best taught, shaped and equipped. The Trellis and the Vine is a superb guide to preparing pastors and ministers for Christ's church. It comes from a ministry so deeply committed to the recovery of biblical truth and the cause of the gospel. The wisdom in this little book is invaluable. My advice: Keep a good stack on hand at all times, and put this book to good use.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

This book empathizes with the confusion that many pastors have when they allow themselves to lose focus on Jesus' goal for ministry, namely, to make disciple-makers. But it doesn't leave the pastor there in the cloud of desperation; it gives him the courage to trust in his Master's strategy again. And take courage: Jesus' strategy was able to reach countries as far as my own.
Cristóbal Cerón, General Coordinator, Gimnasio (MTS), Chile

There is no need greater (in the happy resurgence of robust, gospel-centred churches in the English-speaking world) than for us to think biblically and wisely about how we live and minister together in our congregations. All manner of folk are offering us their opinions as to how we ought to do this in this reforming era (in which some, if not many, rightly see the weaknesses of the ministry and methodology of the last fifty years, but whose prescriptions for remedy fall short of the standards of Scripture and wisdom). Yes, let's rethink what we are to do and be together as the church, but let's do it biblically, and with the wisdom of biblical discernment and pastoral experience. So I announce with joy that I have new conversation partners as I am asking myself, under the authority of God and Scripture, questions about the structure and ministry of my congregation: "Why are we doing what we are doing? Are we focusing on the right things? Is the gospel central? Are we making disciples? Has 'administry' trumped ministry? Is our corporate life and mission biblically shaped?" And more. As I ask these things, I am so deeply helped and heartened and humbled and corrected by the fidelity and wisdom of Colin Marshall and Tony Payne's profound little book that I can't but commend it to you.
Ligon Duncan, Senior Minister, First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi, USA (Past Moderator, General Assembly, Presbyterian Church in America)

This book is the perfect example of good theology driving practice. Col's many years of experience in recruiting and training pastors shines through on every page. Scattered with helpful personal examples, this book is a crucial read for people seeking to grapple with the biblical principles of gospel growth.
Paul Dale, Senior Pastor, Church by the Bridge, Sydney, Australia

The Trellis and the Vine is a must-read for every minister of the gospel. The principles in this book will revolutionize the way many of us do ministry, and help us to encourage and grow the next generation of gospel workers. So often we are caught up in building and maintaining our 'trellis' (ministry structure), and we forget that Christian ministry is all about the 'vine'?-the people. Thank you for this clear, Bible-centred approach to the most important task in the world.
Ainsley Poulos, Equip Women Ministries, Sydney, Australia

The Trellis and the Vine is a dangerous book to read. It demolishes precious and much-loved idols like these: "If we just have the right vision and mission statement, they will come ... If we just have the right vibe, they will come ... If we just have the right speaker ... the right band ... the right building ..." The Trellis and the Vine reminds the church that Jesus says the exact opposite. Jesus tells us to be great commission-aries and to "Go ... make disciples of all nations". The Trellis and the Vine is the best book I have read about mobilizing all Christians to be great commission-aries. It will turn church-shoppers into servants, consumers into producers, and disciples into disciple-makers.
Ben Pfahlert Director, Ministry Training Strategy (MTS), Sydney, Australia

This stimulating new book on biblical training will challenge some cherished methodologies. Tony and Col, though, are able to unsettle and critique with sympathy and understanding. Their observations are always judicious and never judgemental. Every page pulsates with a desire for the growth of the gospel and the maturing of the church. This is not the work of quick-fix pragmatists or armchair theologians, but the product of thirty years of effective ministry practice and reflection. It deserves to be widely read and discussed by all who are serious about every-person ministry in the church. It will be a set text at BCV!
Michael Raiter Principal, The Bible College of Victoria, Australia


mdever said...

Best book on the nature of church ministry!
Hope you're well, brother.

Ian Carmichael said...

Thanks for mentioning the book. For the benefit of readers who are interested in getting hold of a copy, "The Trellis and the Vine" (in hardback format) will be launching with a half-price special in our online store from 8am Tuesday Dec 8 to 3pm Thurs Dec 10 (Eastern time).

Greetings from your friends 'downunder' in Sydney.