“In hindsight, the signs were everywhere that Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace was going to be an epic disappointment.”
So wrote Rolling Stone when reporting on its readers’ poll of the twenty most disappointing movie sequels. The Phantom Menace came in top of the list.
So with epic disappointment a possibility even for the likes of George Lucas, why would anyone ever do a sequel? Of course the answer is often: money. Simply cashing in on the success of the original.
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In 2009, Tony Payne, Colin Marshall and Matthias Media had their own Star Wars moment. It was called The Trellis and the Vine, and for this little DownUnder publishing house it was what we’d call a ‘blockbuster’. It sold more copies than we ever dreamed. It also received a host of positive reviews from the likes of Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Ligon Duncan and many others.
Now we can’t honestly say a sequel never crossed our minds (“The Trellis Strikes Back”?). The lure of another sales boost was certainly there.
But we had said what we wanted to say, and people seemed to be taking the ideas on board with a hearty ‘amen’. Job done.
Or so we thought.
In the seven years since The Trellis and the Vine was published, a key issue has cropped up again and again. It goes something like this:
Look, I’ve read your book, and it expresses what I have always thought about Christian ministry. But as I kept reading, I had this sinking feeling that what actually happens in our church is still a long way from the kind of disciple-making ministry vision you outline and that I believe in. So my question is this: What can we do about it? How can we shape the whole culture of our church around disciple-making?
So in fact job not done. Ministry leaders wanted more help in making the principles of The Trellis and the Vine a living reality in a context where the culture of their ministry had drifted some way from the disciple-making goal.
That’s why we produced the sequel we didn’t expect to produce: The Vine Project.
The Vine Project is a new resource that guides your ministry leadership team through a five-phase process for growth and change. Under God, this process will:
- clarify and sharpen your convictions (Phase 1)
- reform your own personal life to express these convictions (Phase 2)
- honestly evaluate every aspect of your current church (or ministry) culture (Phase 3)
- devise some key plans for change and put them into effect (Phase 4)
- keep the momentum going and overcome obstacles (Phase 5).
So, having had our Star Wars moment, is this sequel our Phantom Menace? Not according to the recent 9Marks review:
Sequels that don’t disappoint are few and far between, which makes The Vine Project something of a rarity… I hope that The Vine Project is read widely by churches, planters, pastors, and ministry leaders alike.
Like the 9Marks reviewer, we hope many will use The Vine Project to help shape their ministry culture around disciple-making, and we’re praying this sequel does even more good for the Kingdom of God than the original.