What is the Shape of Your Life?

Recently I came across a newly published book by that looked very interesting and relevant to some research I am currently doing in our process of designing a pathway for followers of Jesus to engage and take their next steps beyond the options we offer currently. I found Bob Rognlien’s book “A Jesus Shaped Life” very accessible and great at explaining how to follow Jesus but also to live out the rhythms he lived. Learn more about how to start following Jesus, helping others follow Jesus and living out Jesus’ mission on earth with others.

If you have researched what some people call “discipleship” and “missional communities” and find yourself not only confused by these words but also in how to apply these structures, this book will help you get started.

This is an excellent book for anyone in any stage of their walk with Jesus. If you are unsure what you believe about Jesus, just getting started in following Jesus or have been following Jesus for some time now; this book will prove invaluable.

The book is structured in the following manner:

Introduction: What is the Shape of Your Life?

  • Chapter One: The Shape of Our Lives
  • Chapter Two: The Shape of Jesus’ Life
  • Chapter Three: The Shape of the Church

Jesus explicitly claimed to be the living template for the life we are meant to live.

Jesus is meant to be the form that shapes our lives. We are meant to grow up and be pruned back until we begin to look and act more like Him.

Throughout the book Rognlien focuses on the three relational dimensions of Jesus’ life that followers of Him should live out in their own lives. Rognlien does a good job of describing these relationships and what they look like throughout the book.

One day in the life of Jesus illustrates these three relational dimensions:

  • UP- with the Father
  • IN- with the disciples
  • OUT- with the world

In a healthy church these three parts are lived out in pretty much the same way.

The book then transitions into three parts  which is shaped by three primary questions “what is most important”, “who are we following” and “who is your family” as follows.

Part One: What is Most Important?

  • Chapter Four: Who Am I?

“Who am I? The truest thing that can be said about you is that you are a precious and loved  child of God, his own daughter or son.”

  • Chapter Five: Why Am I Here?

“God promises you are greater purpose, which alone will fulfill the longing in your heart and soul for significance. God goes on to say this purpose will grow out of a relationship in which we seek him with all our heart.”

  • Chapter Six: The Power to Fulfill Our Destiny

“You have been given authority to represent God and the power to carry out his purpose on earth.”

Part Two: Who Are You Following?

  • Chapter Seven: Follow Me

When I heard people talk about discipleship, there was always a disconnect for me. I understood Jesus had disciples, and I had a vague sense that being a disciple of Jesus meant becoming more like Him, but I had no clear sense of how that might happen.

  • Chapter Eight: Repenting and Believing

Rognlien does a good job explaining what repenting and believing is lived out daily in our lives and how to stay accountable to someone else to act on these things.

One of the easiest ways to answer Jesus’ call to open ourselves up to a new point of view, God’s point of view, is to simply ask yourself and discuss with others the crucial question: Jesus, what are you saying to me? (Repent) But of course hearing what Jesus is saying is only half the process. We should ask a question of response “Jesus, what do you want me to do about what you are saying?” (Believe)

There is a crucial third aspect of this process we might easily miss: accountability. The truth is, even if we hear what Jesus is saying to us and begin to understand what he wants us to do in response, a part of us will resist actually doing something about it.

*These concepts are represented by the “3dm Learning Circle” represented below:


It is in this chapter that the author offers us a very clear description of what is meant by a High Invitation/High Challenge culture.

When Jesus interacted with his disciples, he regularly took them through the process of repenting and believing. Through this process he created what we call a High Invitation/High Challenge culture. High Invitation describes the willingness to live in a relationship where there is a high level of investment and support being offered in return for the openness and willingness to receive it. High Challenge describes the willingness to speak words of truth into someone’s life that call them to a life more fully reflecting God’s purpose on earth.

  • Chapter Nine: Who are Your Disciples?

Why do we assume Jesus would invest without return? Most Christians have a consumer mentality, and so we assume Jesus will give us things like grace, wisdom, and direction, while we will simply receive and enjoy these benefits with grateful hearts. Many of us assume Jesus does not expect anything from us. Of course, when we actually read the New Testament, we see nothing could be further from the truth (reference Matthew 25:14-30)

The way we become like Jesus is by living in relationship with someone who can show us the kind of life Jesus lived. First we receive the information we need to understand from them. Then we begin to imitate the example they set for us. 

Part 3: Who is Your Family?

  • Chapter Ten: Rediscovering Family

In the Bible, and in many cultures around the world still today, family means grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, close friends, and business partners, sharing life and working together in a multi-room house around an open courtyard.

  • Chapter Eleven: Building a Family on Mission

The rhythm of Jesus’ life of abiding and bearing fruit is like a flywheel that keeps us following in his footsteps even when unexpected challenges arise.


  • Chapter Twelve: Facing the Challenge Together

Missional Rhythms– Just as Jesus demonstrated a healthy rhythm of abiding and bearing fruit, he also showed us how to live in healthy three-dimensional rhythms of UP, IN, and OUT.

UP– Jesus was always in close communion with his heavenly Father. He simply did what he saw the Father doing and spoke the words the Father gave him to speak.

IN– Sometimes Jesus focuses on his relationship with the twelve disciples. He took them away by themselves for times of teaching, training, and abiding.

OUT– Other times Jesus focused on their mission (OUT). He welcomed the outcast into their family in Capernaum and healed the broken. He took the houseful of disciples out on the highways and byways to seek and save the lost.

By this we see a model to live our lives in an “extended family” with others balancing these three rhythms not as a private practice but as a community practice.

Take your relationship with Jesus to the next level!

Purchase the book here: A Jesus-Shaped Life