Thursday, February 14, 2008

Rob Bell on "Church"

Ringing Church's Bell

A poignant Rob Bell was recently interviewed in the Jan_Feb issue of Relevant Magazine.

For those who don't know, Rob Bell is pastor of Mars Hill Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His church is actively involved in reaching what he terms "under-resourced" areas, partnered with the mayor of Grand Rapids on several programs, and even has a major push to make the church 100% recyclable.

He is the author of the popular Nooma videos, and continues to challenge traditional church thinking and presses the boundaries of our understanding (and misunderstandings) of who Jesus was.

When asked about what Mars Hill is trying to do to help reverse the trend of twentysomething Christians walking away from the church, he gave a response that made my jaw drop; not only because of how bold it was, but because of how much it bears witness with my spirit:

What a lot of people call church in America has very little to do with the Church Jesus had in mind. I think you just begin by acknowledging that [America's idea of church] is an absolute total failure. The whole system that says these few people, because of what they said, did, believe, etc. are going to Heaven and everybody else is going to Hell, is deeply flawed and must die. They system that says big growth and numbers are the goal must also die. The central metaphor Jesus uses is the Eucharist. His body is broken and his blook is poured out to the healing of the world. God is looking for a body of people who will break themselves open and pour themselves out for the healing of the world.

I think the problem is that when people say "church", many mean religious goods and services where you come and there's a nice inspiring talk, good coffee in the back, snappy music and everything ends up fine. Jesus speaks of His people who are willing to suffer and die so that the world can be healed-that's an entirely different proposition. For us [at Mars Hill], if you can resolve the sermon in the course of the church service, then the sermon has failed.

For the longest time I spurned the words of Rob Bell for being too radical. (If you know me you know that it is difficult for that to put me on pause.)

His boldness in declaring what so many young Christians bear witness to in our spirits has caused me to reevaluate his words, and reopen the book on this unassuming yet controversial powerhouse.

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