SHAPE 2012 General Assembly Report
Sustaining Health And Pastoral Excellence continues to impact the lives of pastors and congregations of the Church of God throughout North America in significant ways. I am deeply indebted to the regional Directors and Coordinators, the dozens of cluster leaders and the hundreds of pastors currently involved in SHAPE in maintaining the integrity and effectiveness of this ministry. The National Steering Committee and National Training Team provide valuable leadership for the continuing development of this ministry to our pastors. Here is what SHAPE national leaders are saying:
– SHAPE is connecting us (personally and congregationally) in ways that nothing else is at the moment;
– (We are) living out the message of holiness & unity that we have preached but not lived;
– Connectedness makes Kingdom ministry possible in creative and new ways;
– Pastors are in ministry today because of SHAPE; married and not divorced because of SHAPE;
– Transitions have been made easier; cross pollination of ideas; those who have served alone are now connected to others;
– (SHAPE has) aided in discerning the move of God’s Spirit in life and ministry;
– Regional ministry has been strengthened; longevity of pastoral service is impacted.
In 2011, five new SHAPE regions were launched in Michigan, Alabama, Missouri, Louisiana, and Eastern Canada. W Pennsylvania will join the SHAPE family this year. SHARE—Sustaining Health And Relational Excellence, a ministry designed to take the principles and practices of SHAPE to congregational leadership—continues in development for launch in 2013. The leadership team continues to work on more effective communication and strengthening the ministry for the years to come.
Still, the story of SHAPE is best told through the testimonies of persons who have been on the SHAPE journey:
“SHAPE has helped me grow in developing healthy meaningful relationships and the willingness to reach out to fellow pastors in a non-threatening manner to offer myself as a source of encouragement.”
“SHAPE gave me a place that was open, honest, and truly supportive. The confidentiality of my SHAPE cluster was such a blessing.”
“This is what we need—to know we are not alone, that someone really does care about what we go through and is there to support us. Ministry is a lonely place sometimes, but it doesn’t have to be.”
“The Lord has used SHAPE in my life to bring me healing by better understanding myself, my story, who I am in Christ and accepting complete forgiveness. I have learned to trust others and become vulnerable in a safe environment. SHAPE has improved my relationship with all those around me by enabling me to better understand who they are and how God created them. What I have learned from SHAPE I use every day. It has become who I am and how I do ministry.”
The person who shared this last testimony received a text from a pastor who is not in SHAPE that said in part: “I wanted to let you know that (your ministry) has brought me an. . .opportunity to point (others) to a new missional way of thinking and being that could. . .bring them renewed purpose. . . What you are doing. . .is having exponential impact in places you aren’t aware of. . . Praise our Incredible God.”
The more we can embrace the power and blessing of community, the more effective we can become in fulfilling the mission of Christ is our world today. If we are going to be transformative as servants of the Kingdom, we must journey together into the fullness of Christ, walking in accountability for both who we are as Kingdom children and how we function as Kingdom servants. SHAPE today is enabling many pastors to celebrate the reality of “being the body of Christ” in loving, caring community. It is a journey I pray more and more of us can make together.