PRAYER and CONCERN for Church Leadership blog.
First order of business is getting to the bottom of the “Rob Bell leaves resigns from his church” media storm (ok, not a storm, since the Christian world is pretty small).
Christianity Today shared the resignation letter:
Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities, our founding pastor Rob Bell, has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God's love with a broader audience.
It is with deeply mixed emotions that we announce this transition to you. We have always understood, encouraged, and appreciated the variety of avenues in which Rob's voice and the message of God's tremendous love has traveled over the past 12 years. And we are happy and hopeful that as Rob and Kristen venture ahead, they will find increasing opportunity to extend the heartbeat of that message to our world in new and creative ways.Of course, this is the official story. I have been on the phone all day and can report on some of the possibilities, rumors and gossip that a publication like Christianity Today is too scared to print. Here are the possibilities, followed by the thoughts of your fearless reporter.
1. According to his personal trainer, Rob Bell has resigned from Mars Hill Church to become a Mixed Martial Arts fighter. After one too many insults from the likes of Mark Driscoll and his manly minions, Rob has chosen to take the time he has used for Bible Study in the past to take his body to new heights, preparing for a late Spring date with Mark Driscoll on the Church Channel’s new reality show, UFP (Ultimate Fighting Pastor). He plans to take down Dirscoll, followed in short order by Perry Noble, before taking down the entire Acts 29 leadership in a cage match.
Upon winning, Bell will take control of Mars Hill, Seattle and return to the pastorate as leader of the new multi-site congregation, Mars Hill, America. “I am planning on showing Driscoll what Hell on Earth feels like,” is what he told his trainer.
There is no verification of this by independent sources.
2. I spoke earlier today with a realtor in the tony Naples island suburb of Marco Island, home to Bell’s hero and mentor, Brian McLaren. He told me that a bespectacled man from Michigan is hoping to by a large home in McLaren’s neighborhood. According to other sources, Bell is moving closer to McLaren to learn how to make a living as a supposedly heretical Evangelical writer.
3. There is no truth to the rumor that Rob Bell is behind the recent break up of R.E.M., even though Stipe was seen boarding a flight to Grand Rapids the same day as the announcement. Bell continually brings up the fact that he was a great musician and possible rock star in interviews. Although, he has expressed interest in starting a band after retirement, there is no independent verification that he is actually any good at music.
4. A spokesman at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, MN has told this reporter that Bell stepped down to become a member of BBC under the leadership of John Piper. “Piper reached out to Bell after the Love Wins controversy. Upon seeing the error of his ways, Bell decided to step down from the pulpit and come under the tutelage of a real theologian and pastor.
Again, no independent verification.
5. Wanting to study the doctrine of hell more closely and get a handle on what hell is really like, Bell has decided to run for Congress and move to D.C.
6. There is no truth to the rumor that he will be taking over Apple. This was of great concern to the Calvinists that use Macs.
7. CT's Andy Crouch tells me that Rob has left Mars Hill to focus on his new full-time endeavor, ignoring controversy and not responding. Crouch says, "Rob felt the church took his focus off ignoring outside opinion. It is a fulltime job to not listen to the criticism by haters."
8. One rumor that has been verified is this: Grand Rapids is a cultural backwater and miserable place to live that sucks in the winter. Bell is rich enough to get out of the dying city and state before his congregants figure out that they hate living in Grand Rapids as much as he does.
Vegas odds on where he moves are:
2-1 New York City
3-1 Los Angeles
6-1 Arizona in a trade to take over new pastor Shane Hipps’ former church
25-1 Seattle to live next door to Mark Driscoll
Even- the outskirts of Chicago in 2 years to take over Willow Creek