Everyone needs help from time to time, especially in the midst of painful circumstances and difficult trials. In this short book, a highly respected biblical counselor and successful author offers practical guidance for all Christians—pastors and laypeople alike—who want to develop their “helping skills” when it comes to walking alongside hurting people. Written out of the conviction that friends are the best helpers, this accessible introduction to biblical counseling will equip believers to share their burdens with one another through gentle words of wisdom and kind acts of love. This book is written for those eager to see God use ordinary relationships and conversations between ordinary Christians to work extraordinary miracles in the lives of his people.
- what if I was reminded of things I already know and it stuck this time?
What if we really were designed for relationship? What if the plumb line for all things ‘relationship’ was acknowledging that 1) we are needy and 2) we are needed? Ed Welch brings us a friendly reminder of the things we should already know especially if we understand the two premises above (we are needy-we are needed) in his new work. The first part of the work is showing how we are needy (as if we did not already know) and part two of the work reflects how we are needed by others. Stated another way, community works best when it is side-by-side (SBS).
One of my favorite videos outlining what a missional community life looks like is by the team at Soma:Jeff Vanderstelt (you can find it here). I periodically play and share it as a good reminder that it is possible to have community, that folks really do understand that relationships are mess worth making. Recently my hometown got into the side-by-side ministry through a tragic Charleston AME Church shooting that took place.
I listened to it at least 4x by audio (thank you christianaudio.com Reviewers Program!!!) and read 2x by paperback with a 3rd skimming/highlighting. I found it quite interesting later as I got a chance to take inventory and be reminded of a few things:
We are needy, because life is hard, our hearts are busy, hard circumstances meet busy hearts, and sin weighs a lot. We must admit that we need to say “Help” to the Lord and say “Help” to other people.
We are are needed by remembering we have the Spirit by moving toward and greeting one another, having thoughtful conversations, seeing the good and enjoying one another. What if we walked together, told stories, had compassion during trouble, were alert to Satan’s devices? We would be prepared to talk about sin, help fellow sinners by keeping the Story in view.
A community works best side by side.
I was challenged to see evidences of God’s grace in others, my wife for example, was recently in the car with a gentleman from Charleston, and she compassionately stated that she was so grieved by the events in the shooting recently and the young man with a tear in his eye said, he was a cousin to one of the folks who is no longer with us. Connie, walking out an evidence of God’s grace says, “What are you doing working when your family needs you?” It is those moments of silence that we know we have connected with someone. It is these little moments that remind folks that the world is not a lonely place, that it can show/reflect common grace.
I was reminded of a recent conversation with a friend who needed me to listen and just be available. We sat over coffee at Barnes and Noble, and this guy poured his heart out about his marriage, morality, being a family man, keeping his job, and doing the right thing all through more expletives in public than I usually do, because of my stained glass masquerade. I remember him asking me, “Do you think God is trying to get my attention?” and thinking to myself, “yours and mine buddy…” and instead I just listened, not commiserated…listened. I came home and loved my wife more because of his neediness because I was no longer so focused on mine. Or the tears that welled up in my heart recently as I listened to a co-worker talk about how he is going to a psychologist because of stress and anxiety, I wanted to be there for him, and later reflecting that this was a SODA (sovereignly-ordained-divine-appointment), and we were side by side, and God provided that moment for me to be there to pray with him and I didn’t, but being there was all I had.
I was inspired and enlightened when I reflected on my own neediness and that I need more conviction when it comes to;
1. Seeing the weight of my sin and having it drive me to Christ.
2. Seeing the weight of my sin, and it should produce humility.
3. Seeing the weight of my sin and how it can be the beginning of power and confidence.
I find instead that I have to be in control, fear others, look elsewhere and have to prove myself. God is NOT great, glorious, good, or gracious in my life, thus making it hard to give to others. This condemnation and guilt is bad theology of course (Romans 8). However it is a work like this (SBS) that cause you to stop and in our short-attention span unaccountable lives, that is a good thing.
Ed Welch does make you think, and the end of the short and concise chapters are questions called “Discussion and Response” which I found can even serve as small moments of private mediation with God in your prayer time, conviction, and responses of loving action. I found myself thinking through how much compassion during trouble I really show and reflect to others. In the section “What Not To Say” I saw my “If you need anything. Please call me, anytime.” as the selfishness platitude it is and was uncomfortably convicted and will definitely reconsider that response in the future (James 1). I was reminded of the heartfelt correspondences that I need to write and respond to, the calls I need to make, and the relationships I need to take beyond superficiality.
I think it is a good think when we have to stop and think on things from time to time. I think meditation on our relationships with others really are a common grace that we should consider from time to time. If we spent more time on this, we might be more thankful people. Ed Welch (and the entire CCEF staff) hold your attention with their authenticity, transparency and honesty. This audio was presented in a cohesive, yet appealing manner, and narrator, Arthur Morrey, does a great job of relaying the basics of this work with a soothing but attentive voice. Ed Welch of course successfully convey Biblical truth and as I have done before, I would HIGHLY recommend this work to others who ‘get’ that they are needy and are needed. I would like to conclude this review with the heart of what I think Ed Welch accomplished, and has been reminded of in scripture.
2Pe 1:12-21 ESV
(12) Therefore I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have.
(13) I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder,
(14) since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me.
(15) And I will make every effort so that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.
(16) For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
(17) For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,"
(18) we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
(19) And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
(20) knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.
(21) For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from christianaudio.com, as part of its Reviewer Program. christianaudio.com has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
- Counseling in the Rhythm of Life ala Welch
If you're considering this book buy it, it is one of the best lay level Christian books of the year. Year end, this will be on people's lists as one of the better books. It will be so because it is both an presentation for a healthy perspective of how life on life encouragement, counseling, and discipleship should look like in the church. It is not complex or shallow, but runs like a gentle book. It's not filled with newly found profound insights, but instead rightly orders and puts together a healthy vision for member life. Read it once, then read it again and digest it more slowly. Give the advice a try, and give it time, change doesn't happen quickly. The gospel grows like a strong oak by a gentle brook.
This is not a general book on helping others. Those are published daily, and some are better than others, this is not an in depth treatment of anything. What this book is: It is a book about how to help others in general, no matter what their season. It's also a great vision for what and how counseling should be done. It should be done through the warp and woof of daily life in the church. Arthur Morey's reading is appropriate, his reading isn't astounding, but it doesn't put you to sleep either. It's a warm reading with a gentle cadence and flowing inflection. He seems familiar and at home in the text.
Some chapters are short, others are longer, be prepared for them to vary, don't expect great changes immediately, but do expect this to be a book you'll return to cite how he advises you in different spots. Like many beautiful things Welch's books greatness is hid in its subtlety. I too wish the church in America would read this book.
This is an audiobook review of Welch's Side by Side. The copy was provided for me as a reviewer by christianaudio, found at christianaudio.com.
- It was thought provoking
The purpose of this book, "Side by Side" is to help Christians with conversing with others, and how to offer help when a fellow Christian is going through times of trial. I have found it interesting and thought provoking. Welch does a good job of describing awkward one-sided conversations, and how to address those (and many other) issues that deal with conversing with other people.
Now, I like most of Welch's ideas, but I wish he would've backed more of them up with scripture. Interesting thoughts, just not all of them are biblically based. I also found it weird when he was talking about praying for another Christian and he just throws in at the end, "and find 10 others to pray also". That just seems out of the blue to me. It did not seem to fit and why 10 others? Is not one or two good enough? Now, there is nothing bad about a lot of people praying for a fellow believer (or a nonbeliever) but there does not have to be 10 people praying to make it work.
The book reader (Arthur Morey) did an ok job, but not the best. He goes slow, and I usually like that as it gives me time to think about what was just read, but when he would hit the discussion points at the end of the chapter he went to slow going from one to the other. I jumped at one point as I thought the chapter was over but then he started reading the other point. :P
It has flaws, but they are not major, so I think I would be comfortable recommending this to a friend.
I would like to thank christianaudio.com ( http://christianaudio.com/ )for the book I have just reviewed.
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- Reminds me why I love my church
Side By Side reminds me why I love my church. In the book Ed Welch talks about the ins and outs of being a part of a community where believers care for each other. In the first section, “We are Needy,” he tells us things we know deep down, but we frequently live in denial of them: we need help dealing with the challenging aspects of life; we need help dealing with our sin. As much as we try to convince ourselves that we have it all together, the truth is we are needy, and God has given us the church as a helpmate.
The second part of the book, “We are Needed” talks about how to integrate into our Christian community, connect with new people, become more intimately acquainted, and be there for each other in the good times and bad. This is where I was reminded why I love my church. No church is perfect, but I’ve been able to become close to a number of families at my church, and we do these things on a regular basis. It’s a kind of community that is sadly not as common as we might expect. Even still, this section gave me new ways of encouraging this kind of community and connecting with others in more personal ways. His chapters on praying for each other and talking about sin were probably the most beneficial because I find these are the two easiest areas to neglect, or, in the case of talking about sin, act unbiblically.
The narrator of the audio book, Arthur Morey, is evenly paced and has a grandfatherly quality to his voice. At times the book would benefit from more fluctuation in style, but that’s only a personal preference. His reading is still top notch.
I received this book from christianaudio in order to provide this review.
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