There is a tension in the church consistently faced between organization and relationship.
The best book I’ve come across that explains, simply and convincingly, how these work together is The Trellis and the Vine. The trellis is the supporting structure and the vine is the life. It is easy to think how this translates to the church.
The trick is never allow the vine to be serving the structure. The supporting structure only exists to serve the vine.
It is tough though. The structure is much easier to work on. Planning a meeting or maintaining the building is much easier than dealing with people. Relationships are messy and time-consuming. Vine-life is wild. And that’s why structure is needed.
How do we keep trellis-work and vine-work in proper balance? I will submit two things:
1. Keeping the main thing the main thing. Vine-work about connection to Jesus. We should be asking how what is happening is making people disciples of Jesus.
2. Keeping a healthy suspicion of structure. Someone has said, “In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hand a question mark on the things you take for granted.” Structure should consistently have to justify itself.
Focus on where the life is.