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Lifeshapes - why and what?

Effective discipleship is one of my passions and what I want to focus on.  Over the years there have been various programs and resources that have been excellent with regard to the content of discipleship - the alpha course, purpose driven life to name but two.  I have also seen various different programs that mainly larger churches have developed to help grow Christians.  Rick Warren's baseball diamond  which has four stages of classes addressing membership, maturity, ministry and missions is one.  A number of churches in Melbourne have developed similar systems.

However, these programs can (even unintentionally) become THE process for discipleship that delivers the content.  I have been looking for a way to teach people about discipleship processes that happen in individual lives that is:
  • memorable,
  • easily taught and
  • can be easily transferred from one to another without having to rely on large programs. 

It was a significant God moment  last year when I came across  the Lifeshapes material developed by Mike Breen and others.  It uses a series of shapes from a circle to an octagon as memorable visual cues for the critical processes of discipleship.  We have started to use these here at Stonnington Baptist so that we can become a church where we are all equipped to be disciplemaking disciples.  As we learn these tools and apply them to our lives, we will all become people who can pass them on to a friend who becomes  a Christian - we will all be able to do it, we won't have to rely on experts.

We have set ourselves the aim of learning and applying the first three shapes this year.  Our recent snapshot survey measured our current understanding and application of these lifeshapes.  We are planning to redo the survey later in the year to measure our progress.

Below is a summary of each of the eight shapes.  There are also some links to sermons I have preached that relate to the shapes.

The Circle - Choosing to Learn from Life
Identifying the events in our lives that affect our emotions and actions and that represent opportunity for learning and growth.   Learning from the moments of life,  Identifying moments

The Semi Circle - Living in Rhythm with Life
A process that helps us identify rhythms and patterns of work, rest, fruitfulness and abiding in our lives. Recognizing these patterns will prevent us from becoming overstretched.

The Triangle - Balancing the Relationships of Life
Three areas of life that Jesus modeled to maintain a balanced lifestyle:
   Up - developing intimacy with Him
   In - building the Church community
   Out - reaching the unchurched
Stonnington Church at its best (refers to the three dimensions without using the term triangle)

The Square - Defining the Priorities of Life
Four stages of team development modeled by Jesus. These are the stages that result in any team striving to reach maturity, fruitfulness and multiplication.

The Pentagon - Knowing Your Role in Life
Five key roles (apostle, prophet, teacher, evangelist, pastor) that each of us are designed to fill. Put together, they make up the church identified in Ephesians.

The Hexagon - Praying As a Way of Life
Six petitions of prayer modeled by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13. Learning to apply this prayer to your daily requests will strengthen and renew the prayer life of your church.

The Heptagon - Practicing the Principles of a Vital Life
 Seven principles of growth that apply to all living things, including God's people. The anagram "MRS GREN" can help you learn how to grow a healthy church. (Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, Nutrition)

The Octagon - Living a Mission-Minded Life
Eight evangelistic strategies for a comprehensive outreach approach. This model will help you discover the Person of Peace and how to process works from God's perspective.


David Wanstall, 01/05/2008