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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Trellis and the Vine

A trellis is a frame of light wooden or metal bars used as a support for fruit trees or climbing plants. The point of a trellis is to have adequate strength to hold the plant. It’s appearance doesn’t matter much as long as it has the strength to hold what will grow on it. But it is important. If it’s not strong enough it will hinder the growth of the plant.

This image illustrates a danger. I’m stealing this idea from a book by called, The Trellis and The Vine. Vine work represents disciple making. Trellis work represents the organizational structure of a church. God has called us to, “make disciples that make disciples.” Here’s how Jesus said it, “Therefore go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age.” That last phrase is how we know this applies to all believers. If Jesus had not said, “I will be with you to the end of the age,” we might have thought he was only talking to those who initially heard this. But he clearly pointed beyond them to you and me. “Make disciples,” is a specific charge from Jesus to every believer and each has a role to play.

Making disciples begins by sharing the good news which can be as brief as “Jesus came to the earth to save sinners,” or as long as a bible study in any book of the bible showing how it points to Jesus. (Yes, that can and should be done from every book in the bible, not just the gospels.) Here’s a book to help you see what that means. Here’s a great book to use with children. 

Jesus then instructed us to baptize them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Everyone has a role in that too, but that’s another subject for another day.

Finally, Jesus says we are to, “teach them everything that he has commanded.” This also is not just for the well trained. Any Christ follower can read scripture with another person and discuss it. That simple act is vine work. We say we value this book. How can we value something we never talk about?

So regarding that image of the Trellis and the Vine; the longer a church is in existence, the greater the danger that its members spend more time on trellis work and less time on vine work. Since Bethany Place has been around for quite a while, we need to be vigilant to be sure spend our best effort on vine work and not get too distracted with painting the trellis.


  1. Making disciples is intimidating because we selfishly fear what others may think. But if we truly value the work that God has done in our lives, we should want to share it. I have a friend from high school who is really giving me a tremendously hard time about being a believer right now. How could I have done the things I did then and be a self-righteous believer now? Apparently I've lost my mind. Reminds me of the massive work Christ has done in my life. My daughter tonight asked for one of our Bibles to give to a friend who isn't a Christian, so she can start to teach her about Jesus. Why is it "harder" the "older" we get, when it should be easier the longer we know and love God and know that He knows and loves us? When will the end of the age be? 2000 years and no end in sight. I can't think about that too much or I start to really doubt hard. Jesus on Every Page is a great book for beginners to show how the gospel is literally the foundation for every book of scripture....even the OT, sometimes especially the OT. Trellis work is important but often becomes a lazy excuse for not doing vine work. good post.

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  3. I think that the concept of mentoring may be more intelligible than the idea of discipling and perhaps less intimidating. I think disicpling is often view as finding a book to work through with another person. That may be a good idea in some cases, but just reading and discussing a passage of scripture over coffee with another person is an act of discipleship.