This week Mars Hill Bible Church announced Rob Bell’s resignation to focus on speaking and publishing. Unlike the majority of the world, we live in a culture where talented Christian communicators can make a phenomenal living publishing books and speaking at conferences. I know of no other country where Christian pastors have the option of focusing full time on writing and speaking. What a bubble we live in here.
Bell joins a long list of local church pastors in the last decade who have chosen this media platform over pastoring a local church.
I wish Rob Bell the best in his new endeavor. His preaching and approach was fresh and exciting when he first hit the scene. I remember in the early 2000’s (remember way back then?) hearing Rob preach “The Goat Has Left the Building.” It was a stunning message and I marvelled at how he was able to take his seminary education and ignite a local church with it. He inspired me to make the same effort.
So the obvious, nay obligatory next blog move is to critique or defend “Love Wins” 🙂
I’ll simply say that Bell forced a much needed conversation and examination of belief with “Love Wins.” But, knowing his theological pedigree, I wish he’d written with more clarity and taken more care in his translation of the Scriptures. I wonder what he was trying to accomplish by being so evasive and making so many leaps, claiming them to be central to orthodoxy.
But rather than adding to “Bell BS” aka “Bell Blog Syndrome,” I wish instead to communicate my profound respect for local church pastors who make a full run in their local church. Some publish, most don’t. The overwhelming majority are completely under the radar, they love Christ, work extremely hard and are quite innovative. Most of all, they faithfully serve and love their local church.
Some are quite famous: Rick Warren, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Bob Russell, Max Lucado. These fellas are published and very public, but they are still rooted in their local church. I’ll always want to hear what they and others like them have to say. They’re still in the trenches, they get it. These guys speak at many conferences and usually hit it out of the park.
Meanwhile there is a whole other group I wish to learn from: guys like Kim Skattum, Kevin Colon, Ron Johnson. Never heard of them? They are local Colorado guys, week in, week out who are loving their local church and moving the ball down the field in small and huge ways.
Kim Skattum, for example, is a hero of mine. He’s asked me a few times who I wish to learn from and I keep telling him, “You! I want to learn from you.” Kim has served at his church for 25+ years. He’s still in the game, still listening to God’s voice, his church is thriving and he serves with incredible integrity. (most recently noted when, after the church’s capital campaign fell short of the goal he gave all the money back.) Same goes for Ron and Kevin and many other local guys. What do these guys have to say? What wisdom have they gleaned? Likely its wisdom much more immediate to my circumstance than others.
In a culture with a celebrity obsession, I want to give a shout out to guys under the radar who are getting it done, serving with integrity, passion and ingenuity. These guys are equally heros and I look forward to a day when conference organizers put on the 351st annual conference for church pastors – listening to the hard forged wisdom of local guys under the radar.