REAL LIFE MINISTRIES AND THE RELATIONAL DISCIPLESHIP NETWORK
The Relational Discipleship Network was developed by Real Life Ministries as a natural solution to the growing demand for more and better training in relational discipleship methods.
Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho, was founded in 1998 by Jim Putman and Aaron Couch using Jesus’ method of relational discipleship. By 2007 Real Life Ministries had grown from four founding families to an average Sunday attendance of over 7,000 people (area population, 30,000) and was one of the fastest growing churches in the United States. This exponential growth was due primarily to the intentional focus on making disciples of Jesus in authentic relationships.
Pastors from all across the nation wanted to know more about the growth Real Life Ministries was experiencing. To help answer their questions and train and equip these pastors and leadership teams, Pastor Jim Putman and his staff put together the Care Conference. This annual conference was not able to truly meet the needs of pastors wanting to adopt the relational discipleship model. A more in-depth and hands-on training program was needed.
Jim Putman hired Luke Yetter, an experienced business owner of a national corporation, and one who had come to faith and been discipled, along with his wife, Casey, as a direct result of Real Life Ministries’ relational discipleship model.
Luke Yetter, along with some of the Real Life Ministries staff, formed the Church Training and Development Team, and redesigned the Care Conference to a much more hands-on and interactive training experience.
This two-day event was called Immersion. The name was later changed to DiscipleShift1. Although it is frequently called a conference, DiscipleShift1 is not like any other conference. It is structured around facilitated small groups where participants get the opportunity to experience what relational discipleship looks like and feels like. Participants return home with a changed perspective, new tools and vision for how to make disciples who can make disciples according to the methods of Jesus.
The DiscipleShift1 training took off and had a significant national and international impact. The Church Training and Development team at Real Life Ministries hosted trainings at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, Idaho, and also traveled as a team, bringing DiscipleShift1 to cities all across the United States. God was drawing pastors from across the country to learn about disciple making, but they had many questions and challenges as they began walking out relational discipleship at their churches and in their personal lives. At this point in the evolution of the Relational Discipleship Network there wasn’t any additional coaching available. The “network” didn’t exist yet.
To address the great need for additional coaching, Luke Yetter invited the senior pastors of five churches Real Life Ministries had been mentoring for several years in relational discipleship to join forces and help coach other pastors and churches to become relational disciple-making churches. All five of these senior pastors agreed to personally coach small groups of other senior pastors. They knew that making disciples of Jesus in real relationship had been life-giving and life-transforming, not only to them personally, but also to their staff and people. These five churches became the first RDN coaching churches.
Pastor Jim Putman was included as one of the first Relational Discipleship Network coaches, but there was also a diversity of other churches filling the role of Mentor Coaching Church from the beginning. This diversity amongst the coaching cadre has enabled the Relational Discipleship Network to meet the needs of pastors from a wide range of backgrounds within evangelical Christianity. To further the desire to have the Relational Discipleship Network be a network of diverse churches at every level, Real Life Ministries formed the Relational Discipleship Network, Inc. as a separate entity in 2011, and made plans to release the daily operations to an independent staff.
In 2018 the Relational Discipleship Network moved to its own office in Post Falls, Idaho, where it continues to grow as a network of pastors and churches dedicated to helping other pastors and churches make disciples of Jesus in relationship. Over 100,000 Christian leaders across the world have been coached, trained, equipped, supported and encouraged by the Relational Discipleship Network thanks to Pastor Jim Putman and the whole staff and team of believers at Real Life Ministries over the years. It has truly been a team effort, and the inspiration for our motto, “We are stronger together.”
WHAT MAKES THE RELATIONAL DISCIPLESHIP NETWORK UNIQUE?
Our Core Values:
- Relational Discipleship: Jesus teachings and His methods-both are vital.
- Relationship First: With God and with His people, we fight for relationship! It’s a priority
- Coachable: Our willingness to be coachable by His spirit and His people
- Fun: We have fun and celebrate as we go.
- Collaboration: We are stronger together!
Discipleshift1: Our unique two-day relational discipleship training conference is the first step for a leadership team to experience relational discipleship together.
- Designed to help participants have a personal “heart shift” toward being a disciple and making disciples of Jesus.
- You and your team will spend over 16 hours, not just hearing about relational discipleship, but having it modeled for you.
- You will be given opportunities to get hands-on practical experience and applications that you can take back to your church.
We believe that “more is caught than taught.” These two days are experienced in a small group environment, facilitated by pastors in our network who have been walking and living out relational discipleship in their homes and their churches.
Discipleshift2: A three-day training experience focusing on team alignment for your leadership team (7-11 people).
- We will help align and equip your team to walk out relational discipleship, intentionally focusing on how each person “does” relationship and how much that matters.
- You will examine how you define “loving one another.”
- You will explore both the positive and the challenging aspects of being “loved” by others.
- You will consider the question, “What’s it like to be in relationship with me?”
- You will examine what you are doing that is propelling relational discipleship and what you are doing that is hindering relational discipleship.
DiscipleShift2 will help align and strengthen your team to be relationally equipped to love God and his people in a way that draws them.
Church Planter Boot Camp: Our six-day training which combines Discipleshift1 and Discipleshift2 is designed especially for new church plant teams to attend together.
- Set the foundation and DNA of your new church to that of reaching the lost and making disciples of Jesus using Jesus’ model of relational discipleship.
- Equip your team to focus on being a disciple-making team that can recruit and invest in others in such a way that they want to be part of your team and God’s team!
Church Elder Learning Community: Our training and equipping conference add-on tailored specifically for church Elders who want to build a healthy relationship between the Senior Pastor and the Eldership, and a strong, unified Elder team. Tackle some of the top issues and challenges that Church Elders face as they live and walk out relational discipleship.
- Highly interactive small group setting.
- Experienced Elders answer questions and share stories, practical steps and best practices on:
- How to identify Elder candidates.
- How to intentionally create a relational environment with your Elder team.
- How to lead effective Elder meetings.
- Elder decisions vs. Staff decisions
- How to stay involved, but let staff lead.
Our coaches are pastors of churches who have shifted their own churches to the relational discipleship model. These pastors and their churches want to give their time, money and energy to help coach other pastors and churches who want to make this same shift and experience the results of making disciples in authentic relationships the way Jesus modeled.
In our coaching groups, pastors will find solutions to the three biggest struggles pastors and their churches face today:
- How to make disciples of Jesus who can make disciples of Jesus.
- How to help people truly live out Jesus’ teachings.
- How to help people connect at a deeper level with one another.
Our Mentor Coaching Churches (MCC’s) and their leadership teams are passionate, determined, focused, and committed at a heart level to be and make disciples of Jesus through real relationships. With such strong conviction, they are willing to do whatever it takes to lead their own church and ministries toward relational discipleship at the highest levels and they are committed to coaching other churches and their leadership teams to do the same.
WHY DOES THE RELATIONAL DISCIPLESHIP NETWORK EXIST?
Through our core values, trainings and coaching the Relational Discipleship Network exists to help ministry leaders who are frustrated with traditional discipleship programs that do not work. The RDN provides effective training and coaching to equip pastors to disciple people in relationship the way Jesus did, and lead their churches to be disciple-makers of Jesus in real relationships.
The RDN was not created because there was a need for a network. The RDN was created because there was a need for churches to “be” the Church by being and making disciples.
The Relational Discipleship Network (RDN) is a community of like-minded evangelical Christian pastors and churches who help one another:
- through coaching, training and equipping.
- making disciples of Jesus through relationships.
- leading churches that are relational disciple making churches.