Frequently Asked Questions
SHAPE stands for Sustaining Health and Pastoral Excellence. It is a ministry initiative designed to encourage and facilitate pastoral health and growth in the Church of God through peer learning groups, life mapping and planning, and study within the context of the five hallmarks: vision, leadership, knowledge, spirituality, and relational connectivity. It is a project made possible through two significant grants from the Lilly Endowment. SHAPE was initiated by a five-year, 1.7 million-dollar grant by the Lilly Endowment. A secondary grant has made it possible to sustain the first ministry initiative and to expand and make permanent the effectiveness of SHAPE through the achievement of five goals:
- To foster a national conversation about holiness and unity in the Church of God, Anderson
- To infuse the established organizational infrastructures of the Church of God with the principles and practices of SHAPE.
- To implement the outcomes of the higher education mini-grant exploration of SHAPE, the colleges, universities, and seminary of the Church of God, and the preparation of pastors and leaders for the life of the church in the 21st century.
- To establish the current operational SHAPE regions as permanent centers of pastoral excellence in these regions.
- To establish continuing skill building/training/experiences for SHAPE coaches and participants.
With Lilly Endowment Funding ending in 2010, SHAPE continues to be a cooperative effort between Church of God Ministries and Regional Organizations of the Church of God.
"Thanks for "speaking" into my life, and helping me know myself better, and helping me to eventually "finish well."*
We believe SHAPE will help pastors stay healthy, fulfilled, and effective in ministry and in personal relationships. We believe SHAPE will help keep minds sharp, spirits renewed, ministries productive, and hearts connected with God and one another. We desire to alter the culture of ministry, a culture in which pastors are moving:
- From harmful autonomy to biblical interdependency
- From pastoral isolation to connectiveness
- From fragmentation in the movement to common direction
- From crisis oriented to purpose driven.
"I started out burned out and SHAPE has helped unburn me."*
SHAPE and the participating pastors are committed to these six hallmarks (a greater explanation of each hallmark can be found by following the links provided below:
Knowledge: The pastor can help congregations think in new ways about spirituality and community.
Pastors seek continuing education opportunities and have access to competent practitioners in ministry and biblical and theological studies. Renewed confidence and newly developed skills assist pastors in becoming more effective communicators and agents of healthy change.
Spirituality: The pastor is more God-centered than church-centered.
Pastors create appropriate boundaries between work and respite. They make time to engage in the spiritual disciplines of devotional time, solitude and personal withdrawal, prayer, biblical and theological study, fasting, and rest.
Connectedness: The pastor's life touches people and brings them closer to God.
Pastors strive to avoid isolation and are energized for ministry through regular contact with their peers. Biblically based counseling and life coaching nurture them throughout the journey.
"I have developed much needed close relationships with other ministers....we laugh, cry, pray, and encourage one another."*
"...you are not in ministry alone...the monthly reminder that God is in control...the help in developing life-changing disciplines...a place to go...."*
Vision: The pastor helps others discern God's plan for His people's lives.
Pastors take charge of and assume responsibility for designing and taking part in study, relationships, and activities that sustain and nourish their vision.
The leader recognizes the importance of personal physical and emotional health to an experience of holistic personal health and wellness.
"SHAPE taught me how to be a human being, not just a human doing... I have learned to better understand others....greatly enhanced my attitude and ministry...."*
The pastor is empowered to make an "orchestrated impact on the community."
Although each region will have some freedom to develop SHAPE to meet its distinctive needs, there will be some crucial components shared by all. Participants will be asked to enter into a three-year covenant agreement of self-discovery, collaboration with others, and a commitment to the components necessary for growth. Each pastor will undergo assessments to discover their personal and professional health and identify areas for growth. These assessments will result in a personalized Life and Ministry Plan (LAMP) for maximum development. There will also be components of training, coaching, and networking for each cohort.
The goal of SHAPE is to have regional areas actively participating across North America so that pastors in all regions have access to the initiative. SHAPE is growing. SHAPE regions now include:
- Central/Southern California
- Northern California
- Eastern States (CDP District, Boyertown District, Eastern New York District, the Church of God in the Northeast District, the New Jersey Ministers and Workers Alliance, Hispano Concilio)
- Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington, and Idaho)
- Eastern Canada
- Western Canada.
SHAPE is a ministry initiative under the umbrella of Church of God Ministries, specifically housed with the Leadership Development & Congregational Health Team. Paul Dreger at the national office serves as program director. It is a collaboratively led initiative in cooperation with regional leadership in designing, promoting, and carrying out the project.