Relational Discipleship Network
The Relational Discipleship Network (RDN) came together as church leaders and churches to help others join together in a commitment to relational discipleship. The RDN board is a macro-network made up of the Board of Directors who set the direction of the RDN and decide on key areas of alignment such as our theological, philosophical, relational and organizational beliefs. We believe that biblical discipleship is the core mission of the Church and that Jesus’ method of discipleship is the best method for the Church. The leadership of RDN is committed to following Jesus’ model and method of intentional discipleship in relational environments. We are committed to having a world-wide impact. We recognized that many Christian churches were stagnant or in a state of decline, and the ones that were experiencing growth were primarily show model churches that weren’t very effective in producing biblical disciples.
The logical conclusion was to plant more churches that followed Christ’s model and method of making disciples. Rather than try to do this individually, they determined a cooperative effort of aligned churches sharing resources with the common goal of planting disciple-making churches would be the most effective means of reconciling a lost world to God through Jesus Christ. Thus was born the Relational Discipleship Network.
Real Life Ministries
Post Falls, ID
Real Life Ministries came to exist through the prayers of two faithful couples. They asked God to start a non-denominational church in Northern Idaho. In 1998, after further prayer and many discussions, Jim Putman and Aaron Couch moved to Post Falls, Idaho, to plant Real Life Ministries. The church began meeting as a small group in a backyard with just four couples. After about two months the church had grown to about thirty people and the backyard was overflowing. A new place to meet was needed. God provided a broken-down rental house with a shop. After a lot of hard work fixing the place up the church had its new meeting place. It wasn’t long before even more space was needed so they packed up and moved to a movie theater where a real Sunday service could be held. In October of 1998, Real Life Ministries had its official first service. It was an amazing day. Everything that could go wrong did, but God was glorified and 142 people were in attendance – 40 of whom were new visitors. From that first meeting in the backyard, the church never stopped meeting together in small groups. Through those small groups a few hundred new people committed their lives to the Lord. About this time the movie theater began to struggle financially and it was unknown how much longer the church would be able to meet there. The people prayed and God answered. Jim received a call from Church Development Fund (CDF) who told him they were flying in to help Real Life buy property and build a church. CDF did come, thirty-three acres of land was purchased, and a beautiful 25,000 square-foot building was constructed. In the new building attendance grew dramatically, increasing from 850 to over 1,600 in just six weeks. A year later, only three short years from when it all began, the church had grown to over 2,300 people and five services. Due to the tremendous growth, the leadership had to make a decision – to be fully committed to being a church of small groups where people would come to know the Lord, be cared for and discipled or become a just another large church with a good show. The leadership went before the congregation and laid out a plan to focus the resources (time, money and energy) on relational discipleship. The response was a standing ovation. Before making the announcement, it was thought that some people might leave the church, but two weeks later another 500 people had been added to their numbers. Small groups were growing and branching. Hundreds were coming to know Christ and maturing in their faith. People were caring for and ministering to one another. The small group leaders were truly becoming the Pastors of the church, and those who came on staff and the eldership were, for the most part, raised up from within the small group structure. Just one year after moving into the new building, more space was again needed. They used the existing building for children’s ministry and moved services over to the high school across the street while a larger building could be constructed. After moving into the new building the church continued to grow reaching numbers of over 8,000. In the little town of Post Falls, Idaho, with a population of just 10,000 people and only 100,000 within a twenty-five mile radius, God has shown the power of doing church His way. People are doing life together in authentic, God-centered relationships. People are loving God and loving others, the result of which has been thousands of people coming to know Jesus and disciples being made in relational environments using a reproducible process. The church has now reached out beyond its walls planting five more Real Life churches and training hundreds of other church leaders from across the United States and around the world. Glory be to God!
Harpeth Christian Church
Led by Bob Harrington and a team of committed people, Harpeth Community Church was launched with a Christmas service in 1997. Harpeth Community Church is located near the Harpeth River in Franklin, Tennessee (just south of Nashville). The church was started following the purpose driven model with a succinct mission statement: Our mission is to glorify God by bringing people to Christ and helping one another become more like Him through outreach, worship, fellowship, discipleship and ministry. By 2006 the leaders of the church regularly witnessed over 400 in attendance, but they were increasingly concerned about the purpose driven model of church. Lots of questions were being raised in their minds about discipleship and how people were living out the Lordship of Christ. Additionally, the model didn’t seem to place the same kind of emphasis on relationships for discipleship that we witness in the gospels. Through a series of providential contacts and travels, Bob Harrington traveled to Post Falls, Idaho and spent time with Jim Putman and the staff at Real Life Ministries. By this time Bob had completed his doctor of ministry degree in evangelism and church growth and he had spent many years training church planters. His understanding of the various models of church in America gave him concerns. Bob immediately became convinced that the Relational Discipleship model practiced at Real Life was a much more Christ-centered and biblical approach. Through the support of Jim Putman and the staff at Real Life Ministries, Harpeth Community Church has made the transition to the Relational Discipleship model. Changing the DNA of an established church has not been easy, but the leaders of Harpeth Community Church strongly believe that it has been the right thing to do. Now, with an attendance of around 700 people, Harpeth Community Church is an ardent proponent of Relational Discipleship in the southern United States. Through Bob Harrington’s leadership and roles with Stadia, Church Coaching Solutions, and the Exponential Conference, more and more church planters and church leaders are learning about Relational Discipleship.
The MET church is an eclectic collection of people and stories. There is a basic reason that we exist – to go and make disciples of Jesus, who go and make disciples of Jesus. There are many passages of Scripture in the New Testament where Jesus points his disciples to this one primary calling. We believe it is the highest function of any community of faith. Discipleship being our calling, we also believe that making disciples of Jesus happens best in relational environments. From the moment you arrive at the MET, our desire is that you would find and plug into group life, our primary vehicle to help you gain traction in your pursuit of Jesus Christ.
Located in beautiful south Florida, Riverside Church has been in existence since 1906. Senior Pastor, Bob Reed and his team, attended a Discipleshift 1 training three years ago and has since has pioneered change towards an intentional disciple-making culture. The focus on Jesus methods for discipleship has transcended every ministry at Riverside including the eldership, small groups, youth and young adults.
Northshore Christian Church
Situated next to Boeing’s north plant in Everett, WA, Northshore Christian Church has jumped all in on disciples making disciples since 2011. Northshore moved from a Sunday attractional model to an intentional disciple-making culture focused small groups and getting people involved. Northshore Christian Church also has a private Christian that has 1000+ students attend each year.
Real Life Ministries Texas
Real Life Ministries TEXAS is a new church plant located in Houston, TX. Senior Pastor, Brandon Guindon was formerly the Executive Pastor at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, ID. After Real Life Ministries, Brandon went to be with The MET in Houston to help with relational discipleship. He and his family are now feeling called to plant Real Life Ministries Texas. (With the help of The MET, Real Life Ministries, various churches in the network and his Launch Team.) Brandon and the Launch Team (21 adults) is already meeting as a small group and is united in purpose and passion to plant a new church in Northwest Houston that makes disciple-making disciples.