My Favorite Book for Discipling New (and Old) Christians (Timothy Raymond)
The other day one of my church members asked me for recommended resources for grounding new and young Christians in both basic Bible doctrine and practical Christian living. I mentioned a few different resources which had different strengths. For example, one was strong on theology but didn’t happen to address Christian living. Another was helpful for Christian ethics but thin on theology. Another was strong on the spiritual disciplines but was ambiguous on issues of sexual ethics. There seemed to be no one resource which seemed to cover all the bases. That was until I remembered one book that I believe does a superb job covering everything you’d want a new and young Christian know. It’s the book Right Side Up: Life as God Meant it to Be. And let me share with you why it’s my all-round favorite book to use in discipling new Christians, and with those who may have been Christians for decades but just never learned the basics.
First, like I mentioned, the book really does cover all the basics. Not only does it include a section on taking up the cross and following Jesus, but also a section on why we can trust the Bible. Not only are the topics of Bible reading and church involvement covered, but also Christian sexual ethics and financial practices. The book includes teaching on the work of the Holy Spirit, the role of feelings in the Christian life, prayer, choosing a church, how to interpret the Bible, what to do after you’ve committed some heinous sin, marriage, relationships, evangelism, persecution, and more. It also includes some useful practical tools which could be returned to regularly for reference, such as a short summary of the Bible’s story line and a suggested Bible reading plan with helps. It really is a one-stop-resource for all you’d want the new believer to know.
The second reason I love Right Side Up is because the book is down-to-earth and surprisingly easy-to-read and understand, especially for young hipsters in their 40’s and younger (probably because the author is a young Australian who specializes in university outreach). Its language and metaphors are the vernacular of the Facebook generation. Not too long ago I read the book with a somewhat rough dude who had essentially no previous Bible knowledge and had just been converted in his 30’s. He had no difficulty whatsoever understanding the book and, in fact, he loved it. He told me his favorite parts were the testimony excerpts of new Christians interspersed throughout the text describing what it’s like to follow Jesus in our world today. This is a book you could easily hand to or read with a young, postmodern millennial and they’d understand it completely.
The last reason I heartily recommend Right Side Up is because it is under-girded by careful exegesis and responsible biblical theology. If you’re familiar with the resources of Matthias Media, you’ll know this is true of all their books, workbooks, tracts, and videos (and by the way, I have no connections with Matthias Media and am not getting paid to say this). All of their materials hit that perfect balance of being theologically-rich and exegetically-responsible while engaging the concerns of today’s world. Right Side Up does this remarkably well. Even as a seminary-trained pastor, I learned some helpful things about the Bible and Christian living. Moreover, Right Side Up is not one of those generic, wishy-washy discipleship resources written not to offend anybody within broader Christendom but is manifestly evangelical and Calvinistic with a strong emphasis on the essentiality of the spiritual disciplines and the local church. If you’re into the type of theology and ministry we emphasize here at Credo, you’ll love Right Side Up.
Do you have one book use with people who are not Christians but are open to considering the gospel? Do you have one book to use for grounding new Christians in the faith? Do you have one book to use with people who’ve been Christians for years but don’t seem to be growing? If not, then you need Right Side Up, for this one book is all that and more. The wise pastor will buy several copies, give them away freely, and read them with others.
Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.