The Trellis and the Vine was 2009’s surprise hit (read my review). Written by Collin Marshall and Tony Payne, the book described a ministry mind-shift that the authors assured the reader could change everything—everything related to ministry, that is. The book stood upon its simple metaphor of a trellis, an apparatus used to support something, and of a vine, the object that is supported by that trellis. The trellis referred to the administrative work within a church, those tasks that, though important, are not actually directly related to discipling people. Vine work, on the other hand, is those tasks of working with the vine, drawing people into the kingdom through evangelism and then training them to grow in their knowledge of God and their obedience to him. Though the book may not have been groundbreaking, it somehow managed to pull together a lot of ideas and collect them all within this simple metaphor. It was a powerful and effective combination and it sold very well. Even better, it impacted pastors and those engaged in gospel work, helping them better understand the task the Lord has given them.
The follow-up to The Trellis and the Vine is called The Archer and the Arrow. While it comes from Matthias Media, the same publisher, it is written by different authors: Phillip Jensen and Paul Grimmond. Though the volume is co-authored, its purpose is primarily to make Jensen’s “wisdom about preaching available to a wider audience—wisdom acquired over almost four decades of faithful biblical ministry.” I do not know if the book was conceived as a follow-up to The Trellis and the Vine or not, but regardless, it works as a sequel. Where the first book focused on ministry through a wide lens, the second focuses on the essential heart of ministry—the preaching of the gospel.
The book is framed around what the authors describe as the preacher’s mission statement: “My aim is to preach the gospel by prayerfully expounding the Bible to the people God has given me to love.” They break this statement into its component parts and expound it over the course of several chapters. This takes them from the theoretical to the practical, from the purpose of preaching a sermon to the actual delivery of it.
Let me say a word about the book’s title. The metaphor speaks of the archer (the preacher) and the arrow, which is the sermon. Firing the arrow corresponds to the act of preaching. The arrow itself is formed by three parts—the head, the shaft and the feathers. “At the point of the arrowhead is the gospel, the declaration that Jesus is the Lord and Saviour. The cutting edges of the arrowhead are the implications of that reality. This can include things like ethics, philosophy, apologetics, personal godliness and kategoria.” The shaft corresponds to the exegesis of the passage around which a sermon is formed. And the feathers “correspond to issues like systematic theology, biblical theology, church history, philosophy and the like. The feathers are like the big categories of thought that tie the whole message of the Bible together.”