There’s an amazing thing about speaking to big crowds: when you are in front of them, they become this huge organism. There’s an energy there, a pulsating sort of emotion that you can read just like you can read individual people.
So when I made the announcement at church last Sunday, that I was going to lead a 6-week book discussion on Rob Bell’s controversial “Love Wins” in a Sunday-School-type environment, I was surprised at how conflicted the organism (ie congregation) seemed to be.
A few people looked at me with eyebrows straining to leave their forehead and hit the ceiling fan (along with everything else that might “hit the fan,” so to speak). A few looked excited, as if I had just validated their questioning personality. Others looked intrigued. After we played the trailer for the book (you know, where Rob Bell asks how we know whether or not Gandhi is in hell?), I made an off-the-cuff joke asking people to stop looking for rocks with which to stone me.
So here they are: three reasons I’m not sure it’s such a good idea to do a “Love Wins” book discussion at my church:
1) My dad’s the pastor, and I don’t want him taking the heat. Look, I get to show up on Sunday mornings and do whatever I want. I can blog about whatever I want. At the end of the day, I’m not a pastor, and I’m not in charge of fielding all the concerns/complaints from a congregation full of very varied theological opinions. If this book discussion ends up causing problems, you know who’s going to hear about it? My dad. (Sorry pops).
2) The whole topic seems to have flown right over the heads of most people in our church. A huge portion of our church is made up of people who didn’t grow up in the church. Their newbies. They don’t know Rob Bell from John Piper. Should I really be introducing them to controversial topics when they might never have even seen this book otherwise?
But after all of that, am I still going to have this book discussion? Yes.
Why? Because I feel so strongly that this stuff has got to be talked about! Because too many people in the church have based their theology on movies and classical literature! Because if you open a book, and you open the Bible beside it, I think you might just learn something you’ve never known before!
I’m not a Rob Bell disciple, but I do believe that the way he packs his books full of questions presents an effective way to get people to use their Bibles for something during the week other than paperweights in their minivans.
May 15th. 9:00am. Gap Community Church.
Farewell. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).