Church in a Pandemic
I was reminded of the ending of a book I read nearly 10 years ago when we planted The Fields and thought it would be good for us to consider during the growing pandemic we call Covid 19! The book is The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. And no, it's NOT about gardening!
The book addresses the fact that many churches have HUGE trellises, but very small vines in comparison. They have huge buildings, budgets, staff, programs, etc., but not as much spiritual life, growth, or fruit. The challenge of the book was to focus more on vine work than trellis work. In other words, focus more on making disciples with the gospel of Jesus rather than building buildings and programs. This is obviously very pertinent as all church buildings are empty and all of the programs are canceled. This book was pretty impactful on me and our early leaders at The Fields. We have strived to spend our time, resources, and money on vine work, rather than trellis if at all possible.
Well, the book ended with a "made up" scenario about a potential world wide pandemic which would shut down large gatherings all around the world, including churches. I'm serious! Read quickly here. They asked, "How would you continue to do ministry?" Many churches are now moving to online church services and online classes to weather the storm. That's all fine and dandy and can be really helpful, but what if there was another way? What if we all took up the call to make disciples seriously instead of relying upon the "called" to do it. If we were regularly trained and challenged to make disciples before the pandemic, couldn't we all just be sent out into the world to faithfully make disciples of our family in our home and those we are able to have contact with? We wouldn't need pastors trying to figure out all this online church stuff, but instead spend their time reminding, equipping, and encouraging the disciple makers to keep making disciples.
Well, this is the time to put Jesus' strategy into action. This is the time for you to take responsibility for growing in Christlikeness, discipling your family, and loving one another! This is the time for you to share the gospel with the lost and needy nearest you in creative ways rather than waiting for the church to do it! This is the time to focus on vine work rather than building a different trellis. If we all did this individually, we may actually bear more fruit during this pandemic and comeback together healthier and larger in the end! We may even need to do a bit more trellis work when we get back!
Please take a few minutes to read the short 3 page ending of The Trellis and the Vine and consider how you might better focus on the task of vine work and disciple making in your home and oikos during this pandemic!