Books, Brokenhearted Theology, Ramblings, Reading Reflections

spiritual growth and ‘soul revolution’

I just finished a book called Soul Revolution by John Burke.  The book reads like a daily devotional or small group study book, tracing what Burke calls the “60-60 experiment” through discussions of various aspects of the Christian life focused on loving God and loving others. Burke uses illustrations and stories from the church he founded in Austin , Gateway Church, offering examples of the kind of  transformation that took place when the church practiced the 60-60 experiment.  The experiment was essentially a challenge for people to turn their focus to God every 60 minutes of their day for 60 days.  The goal of this practice is “to stay consciously aware all through your day that God is with you and desires loving, trusting relationship” (43).  

Obviously this is an extremely simple practice and nothing terribly new, yet the book is filled with stories of people who feel their lives have radically changed through regularly turning their attention to God throughout the day.  I did not find the ideas Burke presented as particularly radical or revolutionary looking back on Christian history, but the stories of change in the book are both radical and revolutionary.  Burke describes a community struggling with addictions, violence, abuse, greed, selfishness who were able to find a new freedom from these vices through the community of Gateway journeying together.  

At times, the stories Burke shares makes the 60-60 experiment seem like a kind of magic cure for the problems that plague us in life.  In the chapter on tithing, Burke warns that no one should “give to get” (240), but each of the stories recounts people who have decided to begin tithing for a period of time and experienced unexpected material or financial gain.  While I respect the way that Burke frames his discussion of wealth and the Christian journey as a whole, it is hard not to feel like the 60-60 challenge is in some sense being pushed as the miracle cure for addictions, poverty, depression, etc.  

I have been having several ongoing conversations with different people in my life about what spiritual growth looks like.  It is easy to say that the goal  is to ‘look like Jesus’ or to ‘keep your focus on God,’ yet difficult to make any kind of broad generalizations about what that might actually like in someones life.  I found Burke’s approach to be helpful, particularly in it’s simplicity, but I think there needs to be more discussion about what it means to grow spiritually when you don’t see radical changes or results in 60 days.

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