Thursday, March 12, 2009

Rant #4: Rob Bell not a Super Pastor

In movement 4 of Velvet Elvis. Rob talks about how when he was training for ministry and thinking of what kind of a church he wanted to be a part of and eventually plant, he wasn't seeing any where people were really connecting and having a real experience with God. So he wanted to do something totally diffrent. He talks about the plant coming together in a strange way. It seems that they didn't do anything on purpose, but his thought is that God was just putting it together. Somehow tons of people showed up on the first Sunday. He was excited but didn't know what to do. He began a talk on the book of Leviticus. He speaks of it in a bit of a strage way how all of the sacrificial and social terms drew attention. He doesn't talk about the main points of the book: God's holiness and how Israel was to come to Him and walk with Him. The church was grwoing by leaps and bounds. One day he realized that he couldn't be super pastor and had a breakdown. This led to him seeking counseling and ultimately psycho analysis. He discovered that he was embracing the salvation of Christ but not the healing of Christ. He found that he had suppressed experiences from his childhood that had to be dealt with. He began to be "healed" and returned with joy to his ministry this timing understanding that he couldn't do it all and wasn't super pastor and it was ok for him to be growing and being healed with his people.

Well, there is some good in this. It is good for us to realize that we are not super pastors and that we need to be sanctified daily just like our people. It is also good for us to realize that we can't do it all and we need the help of others and most of all the power of the Holy Spirit. However, there are some major problems in this movement as welll. First, Rob doesn't seem to understand that throwing a church together with out a biblically driven plan isn't a good thing. We need to have a biblical philosphy of ministry to keep us centered on the kind of church that Christ would have as plant instead of the kind of church the culture would have us plant. A biblically driven church plant begins with the power of the Holy Spirit and the word of God and protects us from exalting ourselves. (1 Cor. 1-2) A Biblical philosophy of ministry also calls us to shared leadership. (1 Tim./Titus) Third, when we "hit the wall" in ministry the answer is not in psycho therapy and self actulization. The answer is what Paul tells us in 2 Cor. 4:

2 Corinthians 4 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart, but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you. But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," we also believe, therefore we also speak, knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.NASB95

Christ does have the healing that the world needs, but we need to do His work His way. Then He will be pleased with us and He will bless His word!


watchman said...

Hey, Caleb.

I guess I had trouble getting the connection here between Rob's method of church planting and the characterization of the characterization that it was somehow unbiblical.

Also, I am unsure why professional therapy and Paul's assertions in I Cor 4 have to be exclusive of one another. Paul claims that "we do not lose heart" in contending for the faith. However, he does not prohibit any means of maintaining encouragement and ministerial stability.

I am someone who has both hit the wall and been hit by the wall in ministry. If it would not have been for the efforts of a great counselor and churches like Mars Hill, I fear I would have lost heart and left the ministry for good.

Well, now I am two cents short.

Caleb Azure said...


As one reads Velvet Elvis, it clear that Rob Bell does not have a high view of scripture. He sees scripture as more of a spiritual narrative documenting spiritual experience between people and God. He approached his church plant in a very postmodern. He didn't want to force anything on it, but instead just wanted it to sort of emerge out of people's genuine experience. He grated against seeker driven church planting with formulas and such, which I completely understand and grate against myself. However, what was missing was an articulation of the Biblical principles which should have guided him in his philosophy of ministry. Such nebulous thinking is what leads to experience rather than truth driven church. This kind of thinking would naturally put a lot of pressure on a pastor to continue leading into uncharted territories. My reasoning for quoting Paul from 2 Cor. 4 was to show that Paul did get discouraged at times, but what kept Him from fainting was the truth of the gospel and the mission that Christ gave. This and not psycho analysis is the key to not losing heart in ministry.