A disciple-making agenda in the engine room

  • Ian Carmichael
  • 27 February 2019

Believe it or not, 2019 marks the ten-year anniversary of the publishing of perhaps our most influential book.

Of course, we didn’t expect The Trellis and the Vine to be particularly influential at the time. But our friend Mark Dever sent it a bit viral by memorably referring to it as “the best book I’ve read on the nature of church ministry”. (Perhaps you saw the video at the time?)

But it soon became obvious that giving people the principles wasn’t necessarily sufficient. We needed to provide some guidance on how to change a church culture to reflect those principles throughout all that churches do.

So, in 2017, Tony Payne and Col Marshall published the ‘sequel’: The Vine Project. This book provided a road map for achieving a disciple-making culture and laid out a clear process for implementing church-wide change.

Together, these two books (along with The Vine Project Workshop) provide the basis of the top-down change that starts with the church leadership. 

But we’ve also tried to produce the resources to start the bottom-up change as well: resources to help every church member catch the vision of personally becoming a disciple-making disciple of the Lord Jesus.The Course of Your Life, The Thing Is, and Making Disciples are all designed for that purpose.

But there has been a serious gap. Not at the top. Not at the bottom. But in the middle. In the very engine room of most churches, where so much of the core ministry should be happening: small groups.

We needed a resource to help small group leaders catch that disciple-making vision, apply it to the way they lead their groups, and powerfully model it to their group members.

Thankfully, we now have that resource.

The Small Group and the Vine is a foundational, five-session, video-based training course for current or potential small group leaders. It outlines a biblical purpose of disciple-making for the small group—a “moving to the right” community—and outlines the key roles of the group leader:

  • prayerfully understanding and applying God’s word to yourself
  • preparing to lead others to God’s word
  • leading the discussion
  • leading the group in prayer.

The presenters, Tony Payne and Marty Sweeney, also provide practical tips on how to get started and grow in all four of these aspects.

The Small Group and the Vine is not only an excellent introduction for new small group leaders, it is a valuable refresher for those who have been leading for a while.

The course workbook also includes ten bonus articles about a variety of practical facets of small group ministry.

To run the course, you will need a copy of the workbook for each participant and access to the video segments (available on DVD or online).

Here’s the trailer for the course…