So we attend the services of Mars Hill right now. Today at the gathering Rob Bell hit another homerun in sharing a message about what the church is all about (Mars, that is) because of what the Church is all about (Christ's, that is).
After a solid bit of teaching, Rob spent a good chunk of time talking about the "elephant in the room." I had no clue what it was, but it ended up being an honest display of transparency about any junk the congregation have been experiencing because of his book, Velvet Elvis. He went on to not only apologize but to encourage them to spend the energy they might use to debate into other more productive venues... like sharing Jesus' love with someone.
Sometimes when my pastor friends hear where I'm attending, they have some question like "So what's really going on there" and "what is the church built around?"
I always say the same thing... Jesus Christ is at work in this community of Christians. The first thing Bell (or the other teachers do) when they speak is say, "Turn with me, if you will, to the book of..." and it's a ride through Scripture from there. It is surely the most connected church of its size I've ever experienced or seen, and I am highly impressed with the values that define them... intangibles that can't be measured beyond the love the community has for God, each other, and the lost people of the whole world.
To speak against a church because you don't like what they're doing is dangerous ground. If the Spirit of God is working there - whether it's with them or in spite of them - to speak against it could be considered blasphemy. Last I read from some popular book, that's pretty serious business.
So - yeah... Rob Bell says things that make people uncomfortable. His messages, videos, and book may cause some to feel jealous, others to feel challenged, and many to feel like they missed a lesson or two in church.
After today, though...
I have no doubt this is one brotha from another motha who swims in the deep end...
and has the decency to be sure his peeps can swim, too.