Sunday, July 22, 2018

Book Review: Caring for One Another

"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." - John 13:35 

Ed Welch has been counseling for over 30 years, and is a faculty member with the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He has written numerous in-depth books on counseling issues, but more recently has been distilling his long tenure of wisdom into digestible books for the church. This recent publication is just such a one.

Caring for One Another: 8 Ways to Cultivate Meaningful Relationships is being highlighted here on The Relentless Fight because of it's focus on building solid community. In a previous post, Brothers in Arms, we talked about the need to have close Christians in your life, to remind you of the gospel and to encourage you in the fight against sin. This book is your tactical map for how to operate day to day in that helpful community.

The book has many similar concepts to Ed Welch's other recent book, Side by Side, but  with the benefit of being only half the length! This makes Caring for One Another a digestible quick-read that introduces you quickly to the practical applications of how to love others in community. It's the easiest introduction to the practicals of Christian community.

Some key highlights:
  • Humility: You can't grow unless you admit you need help from God and others. Remember, you can't even become a Christian unless you admit you need Christ! The Christian life is radically characterized by humility. Welch writes, "Humility simply acknowledges our many sins and limitations, and it responds with, 'I need Jesus, and I need other people.'" and "One way to put humility to work is this: Ask someone to pray for you."
  • Prayer = Care: How do we care for one another? Primarily by listening, and responding in prayer. This frees us up from the pressure of having the right answer or requiring years of training. Just listen, and pray! That's actionable for every Christian, even children. And the Lord blesses this work, "Apparently, the Lord is pleased to use ordinary people, through seemingly ordinary acts of love, to be the prime contributors to the maturing of his people."
  • Vulnerable Community: It's so rare for Christians to talk openly about their sin, and respond with gospel encouragement and helping one another to fight our sin. Welch writes, "Our goal is to contribute to a community in which it is increasingly natural to talk about sin and ask each other for help." and "Could you imagine a community in which we can confess our sins to one another, and we respond to such confessions and pleas with humility, gentleness, patience, and prayer?"  Yes, please! 
  • Discussion-Ready: There are small group discussion questions at the end of each of the 8 lessons. The short chapters are meant to be read aloud by the leader without needing to do additional preparation, with immediate discussion with the group. This makes it easy to use, right "out of the box"! 
In summary, Caring for One Another is a short handbook on creating a Christian community of humility, prayer, and love. If every church applied this book, then the world would KNOW that we are disciples of Jesus (John 13:35). You can buy the book here.

Note: Crossway provided a free ebook copy in exchange for this honest review, as part of their Blog Review Program. Win/win!