Rethinking Church?

The Wittenburg Door, a Christian parody magazine, recently carried a fictional interview with Rob Bell. The Q&A piece made some great points even if Rob Bell didn’t say them. Actually, some of my favorite comments sound like Rob Bell.

Just in case, you have never seen a Nooma video or heard about Bell, he is a preacher from Michigan. He founded Mars Hill Bible Church, which has become one of the fastest growing churches in the country.

Bell has used some very orthodox practices to grow Mars Hill as a fellowship. He is more widely known as the voice in the Nooma DVD shorts. These are high quality messages that present Biblical teaching in a very relevant, thoughtful narrative.

I have pulled a few of my favorite questions and comments to highlight some of the great themes in this parody. Maybe comics and filmmakers are the prophets of our generation?

Wittenburg Door: You talk a lot about storytelling – reclaiming the art of preaching.

Bell: Preaching is one of the original art forms, kind of the original guerrilla theater.  A sermon was an electric event; Martin Luther King Jr. changed the whole shape of American culture with a sermon. John Wesley out in a field in England, the Hebrew prophets…Originally, the word ‘sermon’ meant you’d have no idea what was coming next. 

{Chaille: The best sermons are those that challenge you to look at the diamond of truth in a new way. Those are the words that I remember. That is why so much of modern preaching is easy to forget.}

Door: The Church hasn’t always been kind to artists. Especially one bringing electricity.

Bell: Our assumption is that Church is where you say the things that have to be said. So people will speak but say, “Oh, I wouldn’t say that in church.” Well then, where would you say it? To me, it’s the place where you would push the furthest. A faith community should be the place with the most honesty and vulnerability and prophetic culture.

{Chaille: Words after my own heart. Bravo!!!}

Door: Asked about Christian art.

Bell: I don’t believe in Christian art or music. The word “Christian” was originally a noun. A person, not an adjective.

Door: Sometimes the issue of the poor gets lost in all the left vs. the right crap in this country. How do you cut through that?

Bell: The issue is not saving the poor – it’s saving us.

{Chaille: The “fake” Bell makes a point that the moment we start to see ourselves as above others, it becomes hard to love and truly serve them.}

Door: Actually, your church is one of the hottest churches in America.

Bell: I don’t even know what that means. I know there’s a woman in the second row in the second service that has cancer for the third time. I know there’s a single mom named Erin who needs a place to live. I know this guy who just got custody of his kids and he’s trying to figure out how to be a single dad. So to me a Church is real people trying to figure it out. The word hottest isn’t really a word I associate with a community of Christians. For my wife and me, it’s very important that we live as close as possible to a normal life in our city. So words like hottest and up and coming are not reality and not a place to live. It’s a dead end road.

{Chaille: The above point hits on one of the problems with many “Christian” things in America. We want to be where the action is. We want to be known for being alive when really many of the things we prop up as having arrived are actually quite dead. If we value something for being popular or attend a Church just for what we get out of it, are we really living like Jesus?}

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