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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

‘Power’ Lacks Credibility

Review of the Book The Power of a Half Hour  
Tommy Barnett, WaterBrook Press, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2011

I do not recommend Tommy Barnett’s The Power of a Half Hour.  I assume the author uses ’30 minutes’ as a metaphor for organizing one’s life into manageable chunk.  Thirty minutes is a round number and it ‘hour’ rhymes with ‘power,’ so it makes a good title.  However, the author never really acknowledges that half an hour serves a metaphor.  Throughout the book, every meaningful movement of life is reduced to half-hour increments.  From authoring books to raising millions of dollars to mountain-moving prayers, it all happens in 30-minute segments
Urging people to live disciplined lives is great.  Providing a model for how people can live disciplined lives is great. The notion that I might learn how to be more disciplined upon reading this book is why I chose to read it.  I am seriously disappointed.
Life simply is not something to be reduced to 30-minute blocks.  Some meeting demand more time than that.  Most relationships require more investment than 30 minutes.  The author provided 30 chapters (of course, 30), and in each there was one or multiple stories of amazing accomplishments that were achieved simply by a 30 minute encounter.  It simply is not believable.  I don’t doubt that what Barnett reports happened.  I absolutely doubt that it happened as he described it.
Another problem I have is the endless run of successes, all of which are followed by some version of you (the reader) can enjoy similar success by simply following the 30-minute prescription.  If happy marriages, growing churches, superior physical health, and financial stability could be had by simply breaking life into 30-minute blocks, more people would follow the formula.  But life cannot be lived according to a formula.  Disease, broken relationships, sin, weather catastrophes, and a 100 other unpredictable things show the sheer absurdity of breaking down life into 30-minute chunks.
Again, I have no problem with Barnett’s notion of organizing the way a person or organization spends time.  It is good advice.  But it is impossible to stomach the good advice because he wraps it in a presentation of a too-good-to-be true story.  He ignores the real life interruptions that make the successes he swears will come to be impossible in many situations.  He would read what I wrote and declare “the impossible” can be accomplished in 30 minutes!
I believe he has had a successful life.  I believe he is a disciplined person and a talented person.  I believe his background, the sociological conditions where he did his ministry, relationships forged by his father long before he even grew into adulthood, and his own gifting and commitment all play a part in his prosperity and success.  I believe most of the things that put him where he is are not transferrable to other people.  And I don’t think he recognizes that.  I think he believes others can have what he has if they just do what he does and live as he does.  It is akin to Michael Jordan telling a mediocre basketball player, ‘do it the way I do it.’  The analogy is crude, but it gets the point across.  That mediocre basketball player could practice for 1000 ½ hours and he’s not going to be like Mike.  Similarly, a reader of this book could try to do all that Pastor Barnett has suggested, and at the end of his numerous 30-minute ventures, he will be very frustrated. 
Tommy Barnett has undoubtedly been God’s vehicle for great Kingdom works.  Many people have been blessed through ministries he has led.  He’s done some very good things.  Writing this book is not one of them.  There are more helpful, edifying ways a reader can spend 30 minutes.  I recommend passing on The Power of a Half Hour.

Disclaimer - I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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