In many ways this book is a standard Navigators’ discipleship tool similar to numerous others the Navigators have published through the years. Many of the methods, charts, and worksheets are the same. The uniqueness of this volume is the emphasis on the “amateur” discipler (p. 105). The idea, and it is a good one, is that those desiring to make disciples don’t have to be experts; they do however need to be disciples themselves, knowledgeable of fundamental truth and willing to come alongside people to lead them to maturity. The Alongsider’s method can be practiced in informal sittings, such as coffee shops and livingrooms, with one or two others, using the Bible and simple discipleship tools which can be obtained from NavPress. I appreciated the overall concept of the Alongsider approach. Too frequently Christians shun discipling others because they don’t know what to do, feel inadequate, or lack skills. The Ways of the Alongsider goes far in eliminating these problems. The book includes a study guide that will walk a teacher through this material.
On the negative side the author has obviously drunk deeply at the well of the Spiritual Formation Movement. He quotes often from authors such as Dallas Willard (pp. 16, 85), Richard Foster (p. 42), Jan Johnson (p. 65), Ignatius of Loyala (p. 77), as well as questionable authors such as Bruxy Cavey (p. 31) and John Eldredge (p. 53). The bibliography at the end of the book is filled with Spiritual Formation books and other unreliable sources. The Ways of the Alongsider itself does not reflect much, if any, of these teachings, but if readers actually turned to the recommended readings they would be led astray from a biblical foundation.
The Ways of the Alongsider is a curious mix of solid discipleship methods, for which the Navigators have long been known, laced with a spiritual formation emphasis, for which Navigators are increasingly being known. For this reason I would recommend the book to those with the discernment to separate the two.
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor-teacher, Southern View Chapel