Developing Leaders: Discovering your unique ‘SHAPE’

Contributed by: Emily Paterson and Charlie Baker, Diocese of Auckland

‘Discovering Your SHAPE’ is a teaching series all about helping teenagers learn about their identity, with a special focus on how they can uniquely help others and impact their church and community using the gifts and skills God has given them.

Using the acronym ‘SHAPE’, they will learn about spiritual gifts, passion, personality types and more. With quizzes, activities, games and discussions, they will gain an understanding of their own ‘SHAPE’ and how they can impact their church and community. Along the way they will not only discover more about who God has made them to be, as well as getting to know others in the group better.

This material can be used as a series of five individual sessions for your whole youth group, or combined with the other sessions in the series to form a training workshop for young leaders.

The acronym SHAPE was originally created in the 1990s by Willow Creek and Saddleback church communities, and has been widely used by churches across the globe since then. It stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences. See ‘Introducing SHAPE’ below for more information.

Session 1: Introducing SHAPE

You will need: two similar items – one that has been handmade and one that has been mass-produced (e.g. a jumper), Bibles, pens, printed copies of the SHAPE booklets – enough for one per person.

Game (optional)

You may like to start with a getting to know you game or icebreaker, such as Human Bingo.

Uniquely made

You will need: two similar items, one that has been handmade and one that has been mass-produced (e.g. a jumper)

As a group, brainstorm the difference between
1. Something that has been made on a production line
2. Something that is hand-crafted

In small groups read the following two passages, and then discuss the following questions:
1. What do these passages have to tell us about the way we have been created?
2. What does this mean for the way we live our lives?

Ephesians 2:10
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Psalm 139:14-16
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.”

God has made us all individually, we are not mass-produced. We have been created with purpose, and each of us has been put together in a completely unique way.

Introducing “SHAPE”

We all have a unique “SHAPE” (see page 3 of the SHAPE booklet). Our “SHAPE” is made up of:

  • S – Spiritual gifts: “How has God gifted you?”
  • H – Heart: “What do you love to do? What are you passionate about?”
  • A – Abilities: “What natural abilities or talents were you born with?”
  • P – Personality: “How will your unique personality impact your ministry?”
  • E – Experiences: “How can your experiences, both good and bad, be used to help others?”

There is no right or wrong “SHAPE”.

 Take a pen and on the bottom of page 2 of your SHAPE booklet:

  1. Write your name
  2. Write your name with your other hand

Discuss how that felt.

The first time, you didn’t even think about it.

Ask: What happened when you switched hands? (Felt awkward, had to think, uncomfortable, not sure, wasn’t as neat, took more mental energy)

You COULD do it, but it just simply wasn’t as effective.

This is what it’s like when we try to be like someone else, rather than being the best version of ourselves that we can be.

[If you are using this with young leaders, then include the following phrases shown in brackets, otherwise leave these words out.]

[As a leader] it is really important to know who God has made you to be – know your unique SHAPE.

Don’t try to be someone other than you are. [You are the one God has called and chosen; it’s you as he’s made you that he wants as a leader, so focus on being the leader that God wants you to be.]

There’s no right or wrong “SHAPE”, there’s just your shape – the shape that God has given you and that he wants you to be – fearfully and wonderfully made by him, and totally unique to you.

Optional Activity

Design a cover page for your SHAPE booklet (page 1) that is all about you! Draw, write, be as creative as you want. You could include your favourite things, things you are good at etc (see the ideas around the edge of the page). It must feature your name on it.