Rob Bell is a popular but controversial Pastor. He is part of what’s called “the emerging church”, a feature of which is questioning the way church has traditionally been done. One of things it questions is the preach; “a monolog of one person telling a lot of other people what to think.” Some argue that people don’t process information like that anymore. They need to discus and argue and engage with truth. Truth is digested in a “conversation” not a presentation. It is a testimony to the diversity of thought in the emerging church that Rob Bell seems here to be arguing quite the opposite. At any rate it is not the monologue he wants to change (these seminars are basically him talking for 5 hours), it’s the content and style. Here are some rough notes on telling a story from the beginning to the end.
Start from Shalom rather than sin:
We need to start telling the story at the beginning. When we give a sermon are we starting in Genesis 1 or Genesis 3.
“If we starts from Genesis 3 then the issue is the removal of sin. If it’s in Genesis 1 it’s in the restoration of shalom/peace. Sin then takes its place within the larger story.”
“Don’t cold call with sin ie ‘lets talk about you, you are an abomination!’…They will respond ‘I don’t need once a week to be told how terrible I am’.”
Begin in Genesis 1 when everything was very good and shalom. Then people will see their part how it got messed up. If you start with “sin” then people just go “what? What are you talking about?”
The end of the story is like the beginning:
“It’s about heaven and earth coming together. I get concerned that some people will be on the way up as God is on the way down and they will pass in the air“
(ie God is coming down to dwell here, rather than us going up to be with him -lets not be too busy trying to get up there to heaven, the deal is heave coming down hear to earth).
“when we preach the resurrection there is the belief that something big is going down and it is happening right in the midst of the old creation”.
Rob bell makes the point that Shalom in Genesis 1 and 2 is several elements of peace. Its peace with God, peace with other people, peace with the earth, and peace with yourself. I think I have heard that before buts it a helpful reminder.
“The story is anticipating the coming day when heaven and earth are one again.”
He mentions the “triple bottom line” of People, Planet and Profit. It brings a consideration of how your business effects people, the environment and it’s place in the vital and necessary task of helping organize/manage/steward creation.
We must not tell people how to escape the “soil” to get to a “spiritual place” or the business woman will think she is not in the game. She will think she is making money to give to people who are in the game but we are all involved in extending the kingdom in all we do. Making money is part of redistributing resources.
He made a couple of other intersting statments that I will note here:
“Mary doesn’t recognise Jesus and thinks he is the gardener!”
“heaven is where God is storing the earth’s future.”
I really liked this last section as it highlights the current nearness and touch-ability of the future unity of heaven and earth. It reminds me of the whole Bill Johnson emphasis of seeing the kingdom of God come now on earth as it is in heaven. It also means that what we are doing now can last. 1 Cor 3:14,15 talks about a mans work being tested by fire. Depending on how its built it might be “burnt up” or it might “survive“. It’s much more motivating doing something that will last. I am reminded of the old chorus: “I want to give my life, for something that will last forever”.