SHAPE Gods service

Your SHAPE for God’s Service: Materials for six sessions for church groups, to help people discern their gifts for God’s service
The Rev Canon Amiel Mary E Osmaston, Ministry Development, Anglican Diocese of Carlisle, 3rd edition, 2013

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What does it say on the tin?

Do you wish … You could discover your gifts; You could live a more joyful and fruitful Christian life; You could serve God more fully; You could become the person God has designed you to be? Take part in exploring “Your SHAPE for God’s Service”!

What will it involve?

“Your SHAPE for God’s Service” involves six meetings in a small informal group. It will be enjoyable and interesting! We will help each other to explore our unique God-given “SHAPE”, and how we can use this in his service. We will look at:

  • Your Spiritual Gifts (God’s unique gifts to you).
  • Heart’s Desire (what motivates and excites you; what you love to do).
  • Abilities (your talents, personal qualities and strengths).
  • Personality (your character, personal qualities and strengths).
  • Experience (your life experiences and what you’ve gained from them).
  • For God’s Service.


Most of us are very aware of our own weaknesses and failings, and so lack confidence in our Christian lives. We need to discover more of our gifts and strengths, the way God has shaped us, and what we have to offer!

What will we do?

There will be some input from the leader on the topics and on Biblical teaching. There will also be practical exercises, plenty of lively discussion and prayer. Between each session, you will be asked to do about an hour of Personal Reflection and activities to help you discover more about yourself. By the final session you will have created a picture of your “shape”, and gained insights about how God has designed and grown you.

What do you get?

Easily downloadable complete course. Or buy the CD for £5 with the same material on it from Diocese of Carlisle (email A4 sheets of Leader’s Notes, Handouts and Member’s Notes. Six sessions:

  1. Purpose.
  2. Experience.
  3. Personality.
  4. Abilities and Heart’s Desire.
  5. Spiritual Gifts.
  6. Shaping Up.

105 minutes. Recommended to be run fortnightly. Publicity included.

Who is it for?

Adult,Beginners, Growing, small groups, whole church


Free, downloadable from Carlisle Diocese.


  • What is the overall quality of material presentation?

    Straight-forward and clearly laid-out A4 sheets of material, with some simple clip-art.

    How clear are its aims and outcomes?

    Aim stated clearly: To help each other to explore our unique God-given “SHAPE”, and how we can use this in his service.' This is reflected in the separate sessions which work their way through the six components. The leaders' notes spell out further aims, for example that the course is ‘relevant to people's whole lives, not just church activities'. Best use is seen as part of overall church strategy, to be regularly repeated for new church members. Clearly flagged up in first session that the discovery of SHAPE is an organic rather than static thing.

    How accessible are the leader's notes?

    Very helpful leader's notes, with comprehensive advice. Good clear list of course materials and who gets what. Each session has bullet-pointed aims, plus list of material needed. Further reading document included.

    Who could lead it?

    2 leaders recommended, preferably to include a church leader, so that discovered gifts can be used in overall church strategy. But it could also be led by a small group leader. It is seen as important that an experienced leader facilitates this material, someone with both group-leading and pastoral gifts.

    How helpful are the participants' resources?

    Further reading document included if wanted.

    How good is any digital material?


    How much prep will I have to do?

    Material recommends that, in order to make the most of it, the course is set up as a standalone rather than just another small group resource. Best use is seen as part of overall church strategy, to be regularly repeated for new church members Being prepared to set up the individual. Reviews after the last group session, and have in mind how discovered gifts may be used in God's service, whether within or without the church community.

    Is there website support? Links?

    Also available from

    Is it dated?

    Recently revised (2013) in view of feedback from users.

  • How well does it encourage interaction with the group?

    Lots of interaction, with a variety of suggestions depending on how well group members know each other to begin with. Both whole group interaction, and work in pairs.

    How well does it cater for a variety of both learning and delivery styles?

    Mix of reading, writing, discussion, prayer, reflection. Quite a bit of input, but this is balanced by exercises and reflections.

    How adaptable is it to my situation?

    Although specifically designed to ‘meet the needs of ordinary British churches of any denomination', as part of overall church strategy, this course can be adapted and tailor-made for your situation. Thanks to Osmaston's generosity and vision, there is no copyright on the material, so it can be suited to your church or group if necessary. However, you may not want to, as it is a well thought-through and presented course. It is targeted especially at those Christians who may not be ‘confident about “having anything spiritual to offer.”'

    How well does it encourage people to work together in applying the material?

    Exceptionally well, both within the group time, and between session ‘homework' which is integral to the course.

  • How much of the material is Bible-based?

    All topics Bible-based. Some sessions have more Scripture references in than others.

    How well is the biblical material presented and used?

    Whole course firmly based on biblical understanding of an individual's value and giftings in God's eyes. Some sessions dig into relevant passages, with material to work on in pairs. Positive affirmation of the wide range of gifts, from those seen as more ‘spiritual' to those more ‘natural'; all are given by God and all are essential.

    How well does it apply biblical material to everyday life?

    Self-reflection is rooted in application of biblical material. Potentially life-changing. Practical and inspirational.

    Is there a particular theological perspective?

    Anglican stable but designed for wide application. Has been used around the world and in over 600 UK locations to date.

  • How well does it inspire people towards whole-life discipleship?

    Obviously targeted towards finding the ‘shape' of one's personality and gifts; helpfully divided into the different session topics. Very accessible and non-threatening. Affirming of individuals and their potential, and of how all gifts are for the common good.

    How well does it encourage and enable people to grow in their faith?

    Very practically-based course that should help a wide range of personality types to engage with their faith as it is, and discover how it could grow. Challenging and thought-provoking.

    How well does it stretch faith and vision of God and his purposes?

    Emphasis on how God sees us in contrast to how we see ourselves. Potential for life-changing realisations. Great mix of faith and application.

    How well does it connect with real life issues?

    Exceptionally good feature of the course, in providing many opportunities for honest self-reflection, and talking things through with others.

  • How well does it encourage personal evangelism?

    Not a particular focus – unless that turns out to be a gift God has given you.

    How well does it encourage local or network-based community involvement?

    Again, this may be an outworking of SHAPE discovery.

    How well does it connect with global issues?

    Not a focus.

    How well does it encourage global mission?

    Not a focus.

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