Why is this the first time a church is doing something like this?

Ok, some of you might be starting to feel like I’m some sort of broken record… and you know what, maybe I am. But this is something about which I’m willing to be that broken record…

Rob Bell’s church, Mars Hill Bible Church, just made a (radical?) statement about what their mission as a church community is. It’s something that the leaders there have been working on for a while, but apparently in the last few weeks it’s come to fruition and they have presented it as the main Mission of their church, which will define who they are and what they’re about and where they’re going in the immediate future.


Here are the main 3 points, but you should check out the link above for more details:

Missional areas of focus

  • Every kid in West Michigan should have food and shelter.
    more info
  • The poorest of Grand Rapids who are willing and able should
    be given a chance to earn a living.
    more info
  • The poorest people in the world should be given a chance
    to help themselves.
    more info

And they’re not just talking about this stuff, saying things like “man, wouldn’t it be great if people around us weren’t homeless anymore”…

They actually have a plan to DO IT.

This morning, I was listening to the podcast from the service that they first announced this at (download it here) and the lead pastor, Don Golden, was recounting a trip to Africa that he had made a few years ago. He was meeting with a large group of African pastors in an area that was heavily hit by famine, and they were talking about what the churches and pastors could do in the midst of such great suffering and need.

The (obvious) problem is that in a famine, people need food. Thus, if a church wants to help the people in need, then they need to get food to give to people. But what do you do if there is no food to give?

Don said that his understanding of church was forever changed by what one African pastor shared there. When asked the question, “What is it like, to be surrounded by overwhelming brokenness and need and yet having nothing to offer”, the African pastor said:

When you are no longer able to help the needy, are you still a church?

So, what Mars Hill has done, and what I am doing to all of you who stop by, is turning this question around on us and asking:

If we (American Christians and the American church as a whole) are not helping the needy, are we still The Church?

Chew on that for a while…


3 thoughts on “Why is this the first time a church is doing something like this?

  1. ok..first off..i love the broken record factor. William Lloyd Garrison (the anti-slavery editor of the “Liberator” back in the 1830’s) was once told to “keep more cool” by a friend in regard of his efforts in the movement. Garrison responded “I…need to be all on fire, for I have mountains of ice…to melt”. Not that you are talking about ending slavery or anything like that…but the point is still the same i think..he was passionate about something that he saw was wrong and he talked and talked and talked….because he had mountains of ice to melt. so keep on keeping on. (quote is from “the forbidden schoolhouse”. its an interesting book).

    secondly….i love the new missional areas of focus for mars hill. wow. that is so awesome. that makes me really excited.

  2. Curtis – keep on putting all this stuff on the front burner. We need you and others to bring this to fruition. Church in the US needs to change.

    The following is unbelievable – in light of the quite : “When you are no longer able to help the needy, are you still a church?”

    This happened to Dave and me on Monday night. Yes, we want it to be public, so people will understand the close-mindedness that’s part of American Christianity.

    Ok – our church has services on Friday nights instead of Sunday morning. That’s when the most people can come. Also, we do a lot of stuff to help people in need. Helping our neigbors -locally and worldwide – is really important to show God’s love.

    On Monday night, at a meeting with another church, we were told that NLC isn’t really a church – we’re just a random community. The reason given: “You don’t have corporate worship on Sunday mornings.” Dave and I were stunned. We responded with “We have corporate worship on Friday nights. Look at all the people who come then.” The answer we received, “That doesn’t count. That doesn’t matter. A real church happens on Sunday morning.” And it doesn’t matter about all the stuff you do to help others – that doesn’t make you a church.

    WOAH!!!! What a slam. Guess those folks aren’t reading anything current about “church”.

    Dave and I are so happy NOT to be a part of the close minded old-style evangelical church mindset.

    We like Rob Bell and Mars Hill. Lots of my classmates at seminary think Rob Bell and his church are great. And we’re all over 50 years old !!!!

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