Posted by: richard | 30 September, 2009

LifeShapes – The Semi-Circle

The Semi-Circle:  Living in Rhythm with Life

At our first “LifeShapes training session” last night we covered the Circle, the Semi-Circle and the Triangle.  We covered the Circle in an earlier post so I’ll summarise the other two shapes today, beginning with the Semi-Circle.

As we discussed, we live in a culture of overwork.  We are generally over-committed and under-connected. We don’t need more commitments but we do need to be committed to the right things.

Whilst work is good (Genesis: “be fruitful and multiply”), the day after God created humans he took a rest, so for us, we “work from our rest” and don’t “rest from our work”.   Rest is so important it made the 10 commandments, on a par with not murdering or stealing!

John 15:1-8 says “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful …  Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

So the Semi-Circle is the pendulum that swings from rest to work and back:

Semi-Circle of Abiding and Fruitfulness

Semi-Circle of Abiding and Fruitfulness

We see this pattern in Jesus’s life, with him often going off to be alone with the Father or taking the disciples away for rest.  He started his ministry with a time of abiding (desert experience) – we tend to launch straight in and rest when we burn out!

So the rhythm is:

  • Abiding – resting, being in the Father’s presence, being not doing.
  • Growing – not the end of itself, but an essential part of being healthy.
  • Fruitfulness – productivity, one important aspect of which is (for the Christian) making disciples of others.
  • Pruning – prayerfully reducing our commitments, creating new space, cutting back stuff which has had its time, or which needs to lie fallow for a while.

Without pruning and abiding we cannot expect much growth or fruitfulness.  Our culture is strongly resistant to this shape and wants all work and no rest, but God’s pattern shows that true fruitfulness only comes in the rhythm of life expressed in the Semi-Circle.

There it is.  Remember it and figure out how you can live in the Semi-Circle on a daily, weekly and monthly/seasonal basis!

As usual, comments and thoughts welcome below.  Any practical ideas about how this might work out in your own lives would be valuable as it might give others some inspiration and ideas.

If you found this post helpful, I strongly suggest you purchase Building A Discipling Culture by Mike Breen (buy from Amazon here).  The book goes through Life Shapes in detail and explains how best to introduce them to a Christian community.

— Continue the discipleship and mission conversation ! —

Thanks for visiting! We have found Life Shapes really helpful in creating a culture of discipleship and mission as our home group has made the transition to an outward-focused missional community.  Why not follow our new adventures on (or via Twitter or Facebook)


  1. I found the semi-circle shape particularly struck a cord with me, as I’m most definitely miss non-stop action 24/7, and am admittedly pretty rubbish at the resting and abiding thing! Anyone with young children at home like me can probably relate in some way! So having a bit of a ‘kiaros’ revelation at LifeShapes last week while we were looking at this shape, I decided to take action, as I know only too well that being on the go all the time without ever taking time to rest and replenish yourself is like running on an empty tank sometimes! a) that’s clearly not the way that God designed us and b) you end becoming pretty inefficient eventually and somewhat exhausted! and basically not getting the most out of life!
    So as of last week, I have changed my daily routine, so that before William wakes up, I take sometimes even just 10 mins so sit down with my Bible and just to offer my day to God and to listen if He has anything to say to me, just resting in His Presence. It’s not long, but it’s a move in the right direction for me, and it has already made a difference, just centering on Him and looking to Him as my Source and Strength 🙂 Rachel

  2. Well done, Rachel! If you need any help pruning, just ask me – I seem to spend a lot of time stuck at the chill-out part of the pendulum swing.

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