Toward A Mindshift Leading To Lasting Culture Change (Part Three)


This post is the continuation of a series.

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Pete Sholl: I remember having a conversation with pastors in Mexico talking about the purpose of the sermon, in terms of equipping people in the pews to go home and read the Bible for themselves. We want to be giving people confidence in their own personal handling of the Scriptures through the way they see you handling it—not as some magic man, but you’re leading and showing the steps. That was revolutionary thinking.

Marty Sweeney: And read it with others. That’s the whole passing it on idea. [See 2 Timothy 2:2.]

Pete Sholl: It all comes back to the sufficiency of Scripture and your confidence in it and not yourself as a preacher.

Doug Dunton: The pulpit ministry can be the key or catalyst for this to take place. An example of that is in Southwestern Uganda. Pastor George was there, he received our training, in the process of training, we’re talking about getting Bibles in the heart language of the people and how important that is. At the beginning of the training, he didn’t think it was that important because his people can’t afford Bibles, so they wouldn’t buy Bibles.

I was there recently, and saw that many of the congregants had Bibles. Why? Because George didn’t used to preach from the Bible, he’d just preach on Sunday mornings. Now George is preaching the Bible and everybody is sacrificing to go buy a Bible and read a Bible for themselves and talk about the Bible because the preacher is preaching from the Bible. Well, that’s pretty significant. That’s a culture change.

[Read more about Pastor George’s radical conversion and how God is using him today to preach the Word and equip other pastors.]

Tony Payne: That is a culture change and that’s exactly what I meant earlier on when I said that it penetrates every element of a tradition in a particular place. A trellis and vine mindshift does effect the way you preach and the way you prepare and what you expect to happen after you preach.

For many guys, they come into the pulpit wanting to show enough of how they came to this message that their congregation will say, “Yeah, I see where he gets that from the passage. That’s how you read that passage. And not only can I now read that for myself, but that’s a word that I can share.” A sermon that finishes with one of the application questions of “How is this word going to go forward not only in your own life, but from your life to your sons and your daughters or your neighbors all around you?” That’s a different sort of sermon.

Tim Sattler: When I was in the pastorate, we took the same principles you are using to a level of Bible study and Bible reading. I took six guys through and taught them to read the Bible. A few guys who were forty years old told me after a few weeks that they had never read their Bible because they couldn’t understand what they read.

As a pastor, we want guys to be reading the Bible with their families, but we can guilt trip them into something they don’t know how to do if you’re not training them how to read. We had to see that preaching is not just for Sunday morning, but it’s to develop this expository mindset we want flowing through all the church.

Tony Payne: It flows into the training question. People have often asked us in the workshops, where does this training thing fit in? You say we have to train our disciples to be disciple makers, what’s your program for doing that and where do I do that in my schedule? How do I find the space to do that? You’ve just described training right there. If your goal is to transform and train your people so that they too are Bible readers and able to minister the Word. Then your sermon becomes an exercise of training, your small group leadership training becomes an exercise in that as well.

Marty Sweeney: I had a question a few weeks ago at a church in South Carolina. They had a good overview of our resources: outreach, follow-up, and training. A guy really liked that and said it helped him think through different ministries in his church. He said, “At what point does someone go from being in the growth phase to be in a training phase?” I told him he was slightly misunderstanding the point of training—we train everywhere all the time always. For him it was quite revolutionary to think that you can get creative and take your new member class after they do the new member class and teach them to evangelize. Why? Because what better time than when they still have friends who are unchurched. It doesn’t have to be formal, but can be subtle in classes that I teach or in Bible studies. I turn to the guy next to me and ask, “How would you explain this to your neighbor?” That’s the subtle form of training, it’s not a program, but it’s spread throughout all of ministry.

Tim Sattler: The moving to the right chart helps with that [see below]. If we start thinking in terms of moving to the right with everybody, it helps. Where does training begin? It always has been going on.


Matthias Media’s “Moving to the Right” Chart.

Marty Sweeney: It’s been such a revolution at our church for those who have gone through The Course of Your Life, which is kind of the small group version of The Trellis and the Vine. Moving to the right is great shorthand as we talk to each other and say, “Hey, did you meet your neighbor yet?” Not yet, but we will move him to the right…it’s a neat way that we can push each other to the right by asking them questions.

Jason Crank: Tony, do you see The Trellis and the Vine become a trellis in that we are trying to do training that itself becomes a rigid structure?

Tony Payne: Everything potentially becomes calcified over time.

For example, if you take the Two Ways to Live Training Course, it’s shot through with this kind of culture. The Introduction says, “Don’t just buy this course and run your whole church through it. Get eight people and start working with them. Train them in evangelism. Take time, it might take you six months or a year to train these people, use this material to train them. Work out two or three people with potential, and help them train ten people. Try to train someone to train the gospel is a personal, long-term, relational exercise that might happen in a number of ways, depending on who the people are.”

That’s the nature of the training. Over time, what has it become? A seven week course that churches put on, and churches push people through it. After six months churches say to us, “Our people aren’t evangelizing, the course doesn’t work.”

Any formal training, no matter how good it is, can just become a structure you whack people through, and in the end you don’t see transformation. That’s another way to describe what vine work is—it’s moving people to the right towards Christ and maturity in Christ through the Word and prayer over time patiently, consistently, relationally—that’s vine work. Trellises are used to help that.

The next post shares three tips for implementing culture change in a church.


Want to learn more? Join us for Re:Growth – Implementing “The Trellis and the Vine” in your church in Palos Heights, IL on September 11, 2015.

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