Image for Ready for Real Relationship? A Review of Jim Putman’s ‘RelationShift’

Ready for Real Relationship? A Review of Jim Putman’s ‘RelationShift’

Photo of Bobby HarringtonBobby Harrington | Bio

Bobby Harrington

Bobby is the point-leader of and, both collaborative, disciple-making organizations. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has an M.A.R. and an M.Div. from Harding School of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than 10 books on discipleship, including Discipleshift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman), The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick) and Becoming a Disciple Maker: The Pursuit of Level 5 Disciple Making (with Greg Weins). He lives in the greater Nashville area with his wife and near his children and grandchildren.

*Editor’s Note: Jim Putman will lead an in-depth class at the 2023 Renew Gathering on April 26th on his new book, RelationShift: Five Shifts for Disciple Makers to Live and Lead from Relationship

It is easy for church leaders today to state that they believe in relational disciple making. In the ten years since Jim and I wrote DiscipleShift: Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples, I have noted a big change in terms of the language and descriptions that many, many church leaders have adopted.

I am grateful to God to see such a big change.

But for far too many leaders, this change is happening more in words than in actions, more sentiment than practice. In truth, relationships are hard work. We see relational difficulty in marriages, in families, in communities, and in places of work. Most people do not handle relationships well, especially the conflicts that are part of meaningful relationships.

This lack of relationship IQ is one of the most significant weaknesses in contemporary churches.

Think about it for a few moments. How many of the teachings of Jesus apply to relationships? How many parts of the epistles were written to address conflicts and difficulties? Lots of them, right?

“How many parts of the epistles were written to address conflicts and difficulties?”

Now think about churches today. How many church leaders handle relationships well—especially when conflicts arise, as they commonly do? In most churches, relationship problems and relational conflicts are simply swept under the rug.

Now let me take it one step further.

If you’re a church leader, ask yourself, how do you handle relationships? How do you handle conflicts? What is your personal track record?

What about when it comes to your personal weaknesses and sin struggles? Do you have trusted Christian brothers and sisters in your church, in your close relational circles, with whom you can share your weaknesses, sins, and burdens? How transparent are you with others?

Too many church leaders feel all alone.

If you are like most church leaders, you have never been discipled in how to handle relational difficulties. Nor were you discipled in how to successfully deal with conflicts.

“Too many church leaders feel all alone.”

All of this makes leading today very, very difficult.

Many basic values that have guided America are falling apart. This chaos and confusion is creating conflicts like never before. And the basic fabric of evangelical Christianity is unraveling. The people in our churches and in our leadership circles are regularly polarized.

We need help. We need God’s wisdom to help us develop a relational focus in our churches. We need to see ourselves as a part of a Christlike fellowship—where we love others and we ourselves, as church leaders, experience the love of others for us.

Jim Putman describes the path that we need, and he gives us the explicit practical tools that many of us lack.

“We need God’s wisdom to help us develop a relational focus in our churches.”

In this book, you will find five key teachings that I have never seen brought together in one resource. In this book, Jim will:

  1. Show you why fellowship and relationships are essential for the hard times Christians will be facing
  2. Call you to a lifestyle of real love—and show you how to pursue it in your life and with your church
  3. Show church leaders they can both provide fellowship for others and experience true biblical fellowship themselves
  4. Show you how people develop trust for each other and how to become a trustworthy person for the other leaders in your church
  5. Bring the whole relational emphasis of the Bible together for you as Jim describes the relational systems and procedures that have effectively propelled the church he leads (as well as many others)

This is not a theoretical book.

It is a practical book with proven biblical strategies and frameworks. Get your leadership team to read this book and work through the exercises at the end of each RelationShift section to help you and your team make the changes he describes.

“Become a trustworthy person for the other leaders in your church.”

This book has my highest recommendation. What Jim describes works. It has a proven track record. It will transform your leadership and transform your church.

To check out RelationShift, click HERE