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Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love Paperback – April 30, 2015
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“The task of counseling is the task of loving others well. This book will help you to know what the love of Christ looks like, how to extend it to others, and how to accept it from others as you live in relationship together.”
—Heath Lambert, associate pastor, First Baptist Church of Jacksonville; executive director, Association of Certified Biblical Counselors; author, A Theology of Biblical Counseling and Finally Free
“There are two things that Welch’s book does very well. It demonstrates that no one gives grace better than a person who is convinced he needs it himself and that God makes his invisible grace visible by sending ordinary people to give extraordinary grace to people who need it. Welch not only reminds us all of our call to friendship ministry but also unpacks for us what it looks like. Every Christian should read this book!”
—Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, What Did You Expect?
“Welch builds a vision of a Christian community that moves beyond platitudes and empty promises to deep, scriptural, Christlike relationships. You will find this book to be a helpful primer on how to ask for and provide help in the midst of an age of separation.”
—Elyse Fitzpatrick, author, Home: How Heaven and the New Earth Satisfy Our Deepest Longings and Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life
“Finally! I’ve been wanting a book that helps normal, everyday Christians know how to help friends who are struggling. Ed Welch has given us this in his short, well-written, biblically sound, and Christ-exalting book. I’m planning to buy a bunch of copies and give it out to our church members.”
—Deepak Reju, Pastor of Biblical Counseling and Family Ministry, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC; author, The Pastor and Counseling and She’s Got the Wrong Guy
“Ed Welch calls us back to the biblical model of one-another care with user-friendly wisdom that neither overcomplicates nor oversimplifies what it means to be a biblical encourager. I highly recommend Side by Side for every believer, every small group, and every church committed to being equipped to encourage one another in Christ.”
—Bob Kellemen, Biblical Counseling Chair, Crossroads Bible College; author, God's Healing for Life's Losses: How to Find Hope When You're Hurting
“Side by Side is a simple, insightful and practical guide to walking with people through times of trouble. This book will help churches to become communities of honesty and healing. You should read it—others will benefit, and so will you.”
—Ian Smith, Principal, Christ College, Sydney
“Side by Side is a very practical and thoroughly biblical guide meant as much for the average church member as for pastors and caregivers. Ed demolishes the myth that counseling can be done only by the professionally qualified. I wish this book had been written long ago.”
—John K. John, Executive Director, Biblical Counseling Trust of India
“This book of practical spirituality will produce many more helpless Christians, but also many more helpful Christians. It made me feel both more needy and more needed. A rare double blessing!”
—David Murray, Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary
“Side by Side is an expertly executed physical-therapy treatment for the disabled body of Christ. With biblical precision and practical compassion, Welch assists the attentive and teachable to work spiritual muscles left unused by many. Finally, someone has offered the people of God a ministry tool for mutual burden bearing and spiritual body building.
—Joseph V. Novenson, Pastor, Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee
“Ed Welch skillfully provokes and counsels Christians on how to relate better with others by recognizing they are needy and needed. He puts his arms around church members who want to be more than spectators, around friends who want to grow in wise love for one another, and around parents who want to be more effective with their children. I wish I could have read this book as a young person—life would have been much richer both for others and for me.”
—Bruce K. Waltke, Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Regent College
“We are needy people who share the same nature with many others in need of help. God’s grace does not make us self-sufficient but enables us to help others. Welch develops this principle beautifully in this book. Side by Side is not only a book for individual profit, but one to be used as an instrument for the growth of the church and the equipping of God’s people.”
—Valdeci Santos, Vice-President and Professor of Biblical Counseling and Missions, Andrew Jumper Graduate Center, Brazil
“Side by Side is a practical book about us needing others and others needing us. It pushes us to go further in our relationships and offers concrete ways to do that. It is a book about being companions and allies in Christian living. It is a book, finally, about being good Christian friends. I’d love every member of our church to read it—we would be a stronger community as a result.”
—Steve Midgley, executive director, Biblical Counselling UK; Senior Pastor, Christ Church Cambridge
“Side by Side simply made my ministry approach and the necessary in-reach method more pertinent to successful personal outreach and up-close-and-personal discipleship.”
—Dallas H. Wilson, Jr., Vicar, St. John’s Chapel, Charleston, South Carolina
About the Author
Edward T. Welch (PhD, University of Utah) is a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation. He has been counseling for more than 35 years and has written extensively on the topics of depression, fear, and addictions. His books include When People Are Big and God Is Small, Crossroads: A Step-by-Step Guide Away From Addiction, Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest, Shame Interrupted, and Side by Side. He blogs regularly at CCEF.org.
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Side by Side: Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love is practical advice for Christians on how they can live lives of love for others. Welch begins with the observation and assumption that “God is pleased to use ordinary people, ordinary conversations, and extraordinary and wise love to do the heavy lifting in his kingdom.” In an age of experts and specialization, we need to remember and believe that the work of the ministry is still assigned to all of us—to ordinary Christians. “We were meant to walk side by side, an interdependent body of weak people. God is pleased to grow and change us through the help of people who have been re-created in Christ and empowered by the Spirit. This is how life in the church works.”
What keeps us from doing this with joy and confidence? At least two things: the idea that such work is best left to experts, and our own pride. But in most cases simple friendship trumps expertise. “In our era we consult experts, professionals, and specialists, but when you look at your own history of having been helped, it’s likely that you’ll notice very few experts among those who have helped you. Who were your helpers? Were they professional counselors or specialists? Probably not. More often they were friends—the regular, everyday people in your life. Friends are the best helpers. They come prepackaged with compassion and love. All they need is wisdom, and that is available to everyone.” This is not to say that there is no room for specialized pastors or counselors (since Ed Welch is, himself, a counselor), but that we are not dependent upon such people. Far more of the help we receive in love comes through ordinary Christians than through trained experts.
If the first hindrance to this kind of life is a misplaced emphasis on expertise, the second is pride. Pride convinces us that we need to be strong, that we cannot ask for help from others. “Yet weakness—or neediness—is a valuable asset in God’s community. Jesus introduced a new era in which weakness is the new strength. Anything that reminds us that we are dependent on God and other people is a good thing. Otherwise, we trick ourselves into thinking that we are self-sufficient, and arrogance is sure to follow. We need help, and God has given us his Spirit and each other to provide it.”
When we let go of pride we invite others into our struggles; when we let go of the idolatry of expertise, we allow ourselves into other people’s struggles. And this is exactly what God wants us to be—ordinary people who minister his extraordinary Word to others. Welch says he has written this book “for people like me, who are willing to move toward other struggling people but are not confident that they can say or do anything very helpful. If you feel quite weak and ordinary—if you feel like a mess but have the Spirit—you have the right credentials. You are one of the ordinary people God uses to help others.” Not only that, but your neediness is the very thing that qualifies you to help others. “Your neediness, offered well to someone else, can even be one of the great gifts you give your church. You will inspire others to ask for help.”
Side by Side is simply a collection of practical instructions on extending and inviting the kind of help we all need as we live lives like these in a world like this. It is ultra-practical and ultra-biblical, and, as I said at the outset, if we just chose to do these things, our churches would be better and stronger for it. I appreciate what Heath Lambert says in his commendation: “This book will help you to know what the love of Christ looks like, how to extend it to others, and how to accept it from others as you live in relationship together.” What could be better than that?
If you're debating whether to pick up this book or not, stop and just buy it. You'll be so glad you did.
In the five years since my small group started meeting, this is the only book that everyone has actually read for each week. The chapters are short, helpful, and ultimately encouraging. And each ends with reflection questions. I highly recommend this book!
Great book every church member should read. If every member knew what the book talks about, I believe the church body would be such a loving place.