Our History

We Are Life Model Works

Partnering to help churches and organizations do better what they already do.


Life Model Works is a nonprofit 501c3 continuing the fifty-year legacy of Shepherd’s House, Inc. which was founded in 1970 in Van Nuys, California. Shepherd’s House ministered to street kids and later became a low-fee counseling center staffed by volunteer counselors and Fuller Seminary faculty. A capable team was drawn together to help broken people recover from negative habits, addictions, abuse, and trauma.


By the 1990’s many pastors sought help from Shepherd’s House about their toughest problems. Shepherd’s House staff were training professional and pastoral counselors at nationwide conferences, and counseling missionaries, pastors and counselors who themselves were suffering from traumas and addictions. The staff soon recognized the need for more effective and affordable solutions to prevent the incalculable harm of sexual abuse. Another discovery was that leaders with gifting, high intelligence, charisma, success, and good education were most at risk from unhealed wounds or missing joy related brain skills. Frequent patterns noticed were:

  • Leaders who were pushed beyond their earned maturity.
  • Leaders with a “slow leak” in their joy levels.
  • Leaders with unrecognized attachment pain.
    Each of these patterns was corrosive individually; when combined, they had explosive effects.

Beginning in 1987, Shepherd’s House conducted a careful review of why some people with the same level of trauma and treatment recovered but others did not. The results of this case-by-case study became The Life Model, a new recovery of model. The Life Model was developed gradually by a coalition of Christ-loving, biblically based, and people-loving philosophers, theologians, psychiatrists, psychologists, pastors, clinicians, and recovery practitioners. The Life Model study findings were published in Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You. This foundational book advocates for maturity and relational skills and has sold more than 100,000 copies in 12 languages.

The Life Model is an idealized conception of God’s design for human maturation and transformation into the image of Christ from cradle to grave. The Life Model is built on the three pillars of Multigenerational Community, Immanuel Awareness and Relational Brain Skills.

By 2000, Shepherd’s House shifted to become a resource center for the Church. Dr. Jim Wilder has served for many years as the primary developer and chief neurotheologian of the Life Model. In the early 2000’s, new modules of the Life Model were built out. Nineteen Relational Brain skills, based upon recent discoveries in neuroscience, were developed to give ordinary people the skills they lacked, and to help them train others in these brain skills. Practices of Immanuel Awareness and prayer were a unique addition to counseling practice and daily life. The focus of Shepherd’s House became to develop relational brain skills and experience prayer healing so people could live in joy.

Recently published research after 2000 indicated that relational joy is the engine that drives thriving, recovery and even produces the strength needed for prevention of trauma and addiction.

Shepherd’s House soon began to develop books, tapes, videos and conferences that would teach the full range of thriving – from the brain skills to prayer ministry to multi-generational community growth. These programs were soon called THRIVE: Changing My Generation and Thriving: Recover Your Life. Since 2018, relational brain skill training has been provided by Thrive Today (www.thrivetoday.org), a partner ministry.


The basic theories and practices of the Life Model have been augmented by recent brain science, especially from Dr. Allan Schore’s research at UCLA through many decades. He pioneered the neurobiological basis for attachment theory, which posits that the human brain grows and thrives on the experience of relational joy more than the drives for mere pleasures, survival, sex, or power.

Attachment is the most powerful force in the human brain. The Life Model simply affirms that God does not bypass this inbuilt organizing force to help people mature and become more like His Son. Since we now know more profoundly how God has designed the brain to operate, we can more effectively cooperate with His Spirit to mature as humans and be transformed as followers of Jesus.

Shepherd’s House was rebranded in 2014 as Life Model Works (LMW). The LMW team has continued to write books, host conferences and seminars, and train a growing company of people, church movements, and organizations across the U.S. and the world. LMW team members and practitioners are all well-grounded in Scripture, spiritual discernment, professional training, and real-world evaluated experience. Our goal is helping people everywhere live with a full heart and whole brain.

LMW is now partnering to help churches and organizations do better what they already do. The LMW focus is to spread the Life Model and consult with churches and organizations so they can apply it to their context. LMW specializes in building partnerships with like-minded learners and practitioners. Our dream is to help leaders to become more joyful, fearless, and emotionally/relationally intelligent. After many decades of patient development, LMW has begun to capture the attention of ministries all over the world who make discipleship to Jesus their central task and goal.