Side By Side – A Book Recommendation

side by side

When I was first introduced to Jay Adams’ powerful polemic “Competent to Counsel” – my world changed. The idea, the reality, of soul problems rightly falling into the domain of the Church and other Believers not only made sense to me, Adams demonstrated Biblically why it was so.

And thus – the Biblical Counselling Movement took off with “impulse engine” force.

Not only did I read Adams as much as I could, I branched out into others, before the “Counselling Wars” began that is. Larry Crabb. Wayne Mack. Gary Smalley. Lou Priolo. Minnereth & Meyers. Paul David Tripp. Henry Cloud. Elyse Fitzpatrick, John Townsend. David Powlison, and even Puritans like Richard Baxter who wrote copious volumes. On and on – the list is endless. And I gobbled up literally dozens.

One thing began to agitate within me however.

Before long, Biblical counselling soon moved away from existing in the province of the Church, as part and parcel of the local Church Body acting Biblically and in love with one another, into its own school of professionalism.

Soon, Biblical Counselling was as intricate and professional IN the Church, as Psychological counselling was outside of the Church.

Now there were more intense and specialized curricula. Certification and degree programs abounded. And it seemed like every Church had to have “trained” Biblical counselors, and they did the counselling work – wresting it back out of the hands of Believer to Believer within the ordinary life of the Body – and into this newly created class of “Biblical Counselors.”

I want to be clear here – not all of that is bad.

In that the Church and the Seminaries began to more seriously and comprehensively lay out how the Bible was to be applied to more and more areas of life – we win. This is exactly what ought to be done.

The danger as I began to see it was that we began to develop a caste of counselors with some sort of specialized, if not downright secret, knowledge and training. And once again, we in the pew were no longer “Competent to Counsel”. Only the “professionals” were.

Enter Ed Welch’s breath of fresh air entitled “Side by Side.”  Sub-titled “Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love.”


I cannot recommend this slender but clear and powerful volume enough.

What Welch has done here, is returned us to our core. He has taken us back to basics. Showing how to practically interact with one another in sound, Biblical, loving ways – that in my humble opinion, helps the local Church re-assume its role in “counselling” one another. Which in this case – rightly I believe – re-redefines (yes, that is re-redefines) counselling as “Walking with Others in Wisdom and Love.”

At only 176 pages, and easy to read pages at that, this book can be devoured in a very brief time. But don’t let that fool you. In an amazing economy of words Welch calls us back to be to one another what we ought to be – true Family in Christ. And in every instance gives the most clear and practical advice I’ve read given all of the authors above combined.

Divided into two main sections, the first portion (We Are Needy) focuses upon understanding our own weakness, sinfulness and brokenness and how Christ meets those things in us. It prevents us from being the accomplished professional talking down to the needy patient or client. It puts on the proper peer-to-peer footing we really are on before the face of God. Part 2 “We Are Needed”, moves to touching others out of the reality of knowing our own needs, and Christ meeting BOTH of us mutually. In love.

If you only read the 13th Chapter “Pray during trouble” – you will do yourself and others more practical good than you can imagine. How grateful I am the Author put so much emphasis upon, and gave so much clarity to – the practical means and role of prayer in this passage. If you read this alone – you will be a better friend in godliness to your brothers and sisters in Christ than you may have ever suspected you could.

Side By Side will stand alone as a handy manual on how Christians are to love one another in powerful, personal and practical terms for many years to come.

By it. Read it. Employ it. And read it again. You will do your own soul much good, and be well armed to do the souls of those you love in Christ much good as well.

Thank you Ed Welch. I am indebted.



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