Sep 12, 2005

the velvet elephant in the room

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?"

Hmm...

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.

12 comments:

Mike DeVries said...

well said. well said.

Jamie said...

I have also enjoyed hearing Rob speak (at a National Youth Workers Convention) and have enjoyed and been challenged by many of the things he has said. I'm a little jealous that you get to hear him more often. Although "doctrines" may differ, it's all about the love of Christ and reaching and teaching that to others. Thanks for the great posts (and for commenting on my site). Keep up the great work for the Lord!

Bruce said...

Hi Tony
I've been downloading Rob's mp3's for a while now and he is certainly a minister I have great respect for. I guess your account here confirms that even more. Look forward to hearing that particular message.
Bruce

DJG said...

Hi Tony,

I read you for the first time today and I must say I LOVE all the movies you love (well, the Olsen twins???)So you must be a pretty cool guy. I so agree with you on speaking negatively on anything or anybody when it is obvious the Spirit is at work amongst them.

(BTW Conjuction-Junciton was the all time favorite!)

lilly said...

hey tony!
thanks for stopping by my blog!
glad you liked the prayer stuff too.
i love "velvet elvis"! i'm about half done and each chapter
has inspired me and really given me hope again as a jesus follower!
when i'm in the grand rapids area ...which is at least three times a year...i consider mars my home church...
it is sad that folks tend to be wary of anything new or different...and "tradtional" church tends to really be afraid of anything big and growing!
one thing i really appreciate about mars and rob bell and the other staff there...i am really good friends with denise, that there is a level of honesty that isn't found in most churches...they are REAL! and they also believe in being holistic about living out their faith ...not just sunday christianity!
so thanks again for the post and the comments and i'll wave at you next weekend when i'm up in saugatuck!

Anonymous said...

whats the controversy about mars hill? I just thought it was just another big mega church.

Scrammy said...

PT, I just wanted to say that I attest to everything you've just said. Mars has had an extremely large impact on the way I am digging into the Church. I am now burrowing to the roots of it all, desiring purity. As Rob put it in Velvet Elvis "Shedding unnecessary layers and at the same time rediscovering essentials that had been lost." That's the Church I desire. Amen.

mr stapler said...

hey, sorry i probably seem like a random browser. but you commented on my random blog about my pen. so i decided to check out your blog. to my amazement, united states preacher. how A W E S O M E. i'm a fellow brother in the down south of Australia. it's really quite inspiring to read your posts about everything, and i guess its a good reminder to me that there are awesome christians all over the world. Actually, when i went to a hong kong mission trip this year, we teamed up with a group of American missionary's, and they were absolutely awesome and totally fun.L O V E the accent. its the best. haha ok sorry, for babbling. Take Care, God Bless
-mister stapler [benjamin]

litford said...

hi Tony, thanks for dropping by my blog as well. haha, i suppose you got it thru hismethod *grin* but yeah, your words speak volumes and its great to see God move in your life and church like that -) thanks for the snippets you left on my blog, because i can forget it sometimes, when the world catches up with me.

Rev_DeanL said...

Tony,
Thanks for checking out my blog! I have seen some of Rob Bell's stuff and I must say that he definitely has a unique perspective on the christian life. I appreciate his challenging and forthright way of handling tough issues.
Peace,
Dean

angela said...

a friend of mine attends mars & let me see some of those videos.. great stuff!
and now cuz of all the controversy, i want to read velvet elvis.. funny how i didn't really care to before..

Tony Myles said...

Cool thing about Mars Hill is that you can download the latest sermons off the web site - www.mhbcmi.org/listen/index.php

That aside, though, I can begin to tell you what a blessing this church has been to my family this summer...