Monday, May 23, 2016

Book Review: Side by Side

Edward T. Welch has been counseling and teaching for over 35 years and written a vast library of books about anxiety, approval, depression, and shame. He knows relational ministry, as a long-time member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF).

Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love is being highlighted here on The Relentless Fight because it's the perfect introduction to train regular Christians to be used powerfully by God to help one another. In the fight against sin, we need all the help we can get, and Side by Side gets practical in what loving accountability looks like. This book slows it down and makes it easy, giving practical steps in application of the Brothers in Arms post. And as we've emphasized on TRF, we need to Get to the Heart, which Side by Side focuses on wisely.

Some key highlights:
  • Brief: One of the best features is its brevity. This book isn't likely to intimidate even a beginning reader or run-of-the-pew Christian. Clocking in at 160 pages, it distills meaty content down to bite-size chunks. 
  • Simple & Doable: The model of ministry is slowed down and explained well. For example, there's a whole chapter (5 pages) on just greeting people. Important, and doable! 
  • Needy/Needed: The main point is that we all are needy, and we all are needed. So we share our need, and hear about the needs of others, and then we pray together. Welch summarizes on page 84, "Knowing others well enough to pray for them - that's help at its most basic and at its best." 
  • Sin & Gospel: It's not a watered-down book. Welch directly talks about sin, suffering, and the hope of the gospel. All of this combines together a patient focus on the heart, and a prayerful dependence on the Spirit. 

In summary, Side by Side is a great introduction for folks interested in helping one another in the great fight of faith. It may not feature wartime metaphors like this blog, but the content is solid and will help you win the fight against sin and FOR faith. You can buy the book on Amazon here, or buy a few copies and go through it with some other friends from your church or fellowship to help create a culture of relational ministry. It comes with discussion questions at the end of each chapter, plus a study guide pdf and leader's guide pdf you can download online.

Side by Side,
The Relentless Fight

PS: Still not convinced? Check out Tim Challies' review here