But in all seriousness, Bob makes some great points in this post. He’s comparing Rob Bell’s church, Mars Hill, with some other large churches. And he interestingly points out that while the leaders at a lot of these large churches do, to some extent, have “celebrity status” in that they are well-known, Rob Bell clearly takes steps to diminish his celebrity in an effort to drive people to their own local church. Here’s one of the things Bob (not Rob) said:
But have you ever listened to his (Mars Hill’s) podcast?
It kind of sucks…
He explained this once, in one of those sucky podcasts- they put ZERO effort into production value. No musical lead-in or fade out. No silky-tongued announcer tickling your ears. The thing is recorded at about 20kb and often sounds like an AM radio in a lightening storm…
Because Rob doesn’t want you to think that by listening to him preach to his community, you’ve somehow accomplished something and can take a pass on participating in or learning from your own.
He knows he’s a great speaker. But he also knows he’s not your pastor. And he’s not going to dress it up and make it fancy or even advertise it (for a couple years, it was pretty hard to even find MHBC messages. It came as a surprise to most people that they were podcasting) because he’s simply not interested in being the number one podcast on iTunes (ahem…) and in tempting you to think that you might not have anything to learn from those in your own church community who have been called to teach (even if they’re not quite as cool as Rob).
And because he explicitly doesn’t want you to think that he’s your teacher or your pastor, he embodies that by making it so that if you really want to listen to him teach, you kind of have to work at it.
I love that.
It’s humble in the best sense of knowing that yes, he’s a captivating speaker, but no, he’s not interested in taking away anything at all from you learning from your community. That tells me at a base level whose Kingdom Rob is really interested in building.
This is a GREAT articulation of something that I’ve always inherently felt, but haven’t necessarily been able to describe:
…that while Rob Bell’s church is technically a “mega-church” (based on the number of people attending), it really is SO MUCH different, in a good way, than any other large church I know of. They seem to try very hard to stick to the bare essentials and to strip away the unimportant things that inevitably creep in as churches get larger and larger.
So, what’s the moral of the story? Are megachurches bad? No. But as churches grow, the temptation for leaders to become celebrities clearly grows, and it’s something that should be actively combated as any church grows…
Jesus taught that the first are actually last, the last are actually first, and that leaders should be washing everyone else’s feet… Let’s do our best to not lose sight of that as the inevitable reality of power and influence creeps in.