This week, we’ll be preaching the first of four sermons on a series called The Trellis and the Vine. It’s the second iteration of the series, as we preached through the series in January last year as well.
The Trellis and the Vine articulates a ministry mindset that we hope to inculcate in every Hermonite. Thus, we thought it good to kick off the new year by getting everyone to understand its concept together, and to apply it in the church throughout the year. A new mindset takes time to develop, which is why the series bears repeating.
The Trellis and the Vine is a way of describing what the church does. As authors Colin Marshall and Tony Payne note1:
All Christian ministry is a mixture of trellis and vine. There is vine work: the prayerful preaching and teaching of the word of God to see people converted and grow to maturity as disciples of Christ. Vine work is the Great Commission. And there is trellis work: creating and maintaining the physical and organisational structures and programmes that support vine work and its growth.
The work of the church is to bear fruit, which comes from the vine, so we need to tend to the vine. But the vine requires a trellis to grow, so we need to build a sturdy trellis as well. Both the trellis and the vine are good and essential.
The problem arises when we focus on the Trellis and neglect the Vine, which is a common tendency amongst churches. There is so much Trellis work to be done, especially with a Singaporean mindset that values efficiency, clarity and pragmatism. Typical Trellis work includes planning and scheduling events, ordering resources and booking rooms, keeping receipts and attendance lists, organising meetings and covering agenda items, recruiting personnel and creating publicity — the list goes on and on.
Unique to Hermon @ Henderson, maintaining a sturdy Trellis also means partnering with The Dew of Hermon Pte Ltd and their clients, working with the MCST of the Henderson Industrial Park and complying with the regulations set by URA.
All these are real and necessary work, but they are not vine work – they do not inherently bring people closer to Jesus through the Gospel. We call this “moving people to the right”.
So, if we’re not mindful, Trellis work has a way of dominating the resources and energies of the church, to the neglect of the Vine.
At the end of the day, our job as Hermonites is not to construct the best Trellis ever, but to grow the Vine and be fruitful for the kingdom of Christ.
So, how do we keep our focus on tending and growing the Vine? There are four elements to fruitful vine work – the 4 Ps – with each P being the topic of each of the sermons in the series:
1. Proclamation of the Word
2. Prayer – dependence on the Spirit
3. People – every member participating
4. Perseverance in the task
With these four elements, we’ll engage and evangelise the non-believers, as well as equip and establish the saints. In so doing, we shall grow the Vine by moving people to the right – that is, bring people closer to Jesus Christ.
I hope this brief overview excites you for the sermon series, where we will learn more about the 4 Ps, deepen our biblical convictions for a common ministry mindset and grow the vine together for the glory of God!
1. Marshall, C., & Payne, T. (2021). The trellis and the vine: The ministry mind-shift that changes everything. Matthias Media. - PASTOR LUWIN WONG