By Rev. David I. Shrout
One of the great blessings the Lord has given me was to call me to minister in Oregon. I love this state. It is full of mountains; it has gorgeous coastal beaches, powerful rivers, and even deserts. It is a land populated by wonderful people who still have that pioneer spirit. More than 150 years ago, Oregon was at the end of the Oregon Trail, the greatest migration of people since the exodus in the Bible.
When we moved here in 1987, my wife and I had two young children. Laura was going into the third grade, and Ryan was going into the first grade. Our move to minister here was a family decision. We all agreed, packed the van, and started our own modern-day exodus. Once here, I wanted to give my family a bigger picture of the state than just the city where we had moved. For the next four to six Saturdays, I packed my family in the car and we drove all over Oregon. We went to the coast, up to the mountains, into the big cities, and even went looking for a ghost town. I felt that if they could understand where they had moved to, they would adjust more quickly and be stronger.
In many ways, SHAPE has been, for me, that exodus of my heart. In our SHAPE ministry here in Oregon, I have gone through all the surveys, read all the books, studied small group dynamics, led a SHAPE group, listened to counselors, attended a seminary in Portland to study coaching, and have written my LAMP (Life and Ministry Plan), keeping it current and alive in my life.
I have watched pastor after pastor come away from our orientation retreat saying that they now have a deeper insight into his or her own heart and mind. For the first time, these pastors have begun to understand why they do the things they do and why they feel the way they feel when something happens to them. Now they can look at their congregation and understand them more clearly. They know now where they live, just like my children did.
When you enter into the SHAPE experience, you will take a series of personality surveys and a spiritual gifts inventory, and you will bond with a group of peer pastors. You will read books in common and share the insight you receive. You will remember the leaders that have spoken into your life. You will learn how to relate to others. You will write your personal mission statement, and you will learn the skills to help your church develop its own mission statement. You will pray together and hold each other through tough times. Pastors, we were never meant to serve our church alone, but in community. Even before time began, God was in community with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
You will write a LAMP. This is a Life and Ministry Plan. If you keep this document alive by referring to it weekly, giving it careful prayer and thought, laying it before your SHAPE group and your spouse and asking them to speak into it, then this document will be a very powerful tool in your life. It will guide you into a deeper walk with God. It will stretch you to read books and study things you never thought you would. It has changed my life and ministry like nothing else could.
You need to be in a SHAPE group for yourself, for your spouse, and for your ministry.
Covering more than fifteen regions and growing, SHAPE may be the perfect opportunity for your pastor to increase and maintain spiritual and emotional excellence. Learn more about SHAPE at www.chog.org/shape or by calling 800-848-2464 ext. 3023.