Month: March 2011

Why Rob Bell Is Helping The Church

Why Rob Bell Is Helping The Church

Rob Bell - Courtesy

In Christian circles, pastor Rob Bell has created a stir of controversy in questioning the certainty of hell in his new book, “Love Wins”. In a matter of weeks the blogosphere and Twitter universe were reeling with critiques, reviews and backlash – even before the book was released.

While some have pointed out that what Bell argues isn’t anything necessarily new; what has caught many off guard is the questions are being posed by someone with such influence and responsibility. There are over 10,000 people who attend Mars Hill Church in Michigan and thousands more who follow his videos and books.

For all the backlash and hype, I believe there is a small silver lining. Bell has given people a reason to engage the conversation.  MSNBC, CNN and countless other news organizations are talking about life, death, Heaven and hell. The book is the match, but the conversation is the fire. And the fire is spreading. People are asking questions.

I believe Bell has actually helped the church by putting it in the best possible position to answer the questions he asks but sadly doesn’t answer.  And the church has responded. Pastors and significant Christian leaders have published in-depth responses to Bell’s questions. One seminary is holding a panel discussion, broadcast live on the web. I have no doubt that churches around the country, even across the pond, are answering the questions about life, death, Heaven and hell.

As they should.

Where I diverge from Bell however is on the idea that the questions he asks don’t have answers.  He loves to ask questions; many which challenge Christian tradition. His questions don’t scare me and I welcome them because wrestling with our faith on many levels is good. But I believe answers to his questions and many others do exist in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. If we ignore clear, literal, accounts of the character and nature of God, how He interacts with His Creation, and what He’s said about our past, present and future, we are devaluing one of the greatest gifts of the Christian faith behind the saving work of Christ. Apart from Scripture we  have little to build our understanding of the Christian faith.

Regardless of Bell’s intentions, as Christians we have the opportunity and responsibility to fill the void he has created. Heaven and hell are realities and as Christians we aren’t given the license to massage our faith to a point where it’s more palatable or comfortable.

We must come face to face with the uncomfortable issues of Heaven and hell and know what we believe and why we believe it.

Thankfully there are answers in a book, it’s probably just not in Rob Bell’s.

***Fill the Void***

I believe Mark Driscoll and Tim Challies do a tremendous job at accurately explaining the Biblical evidence on questions relating to Heaven and hell.

Leader In Tent

Leader In Tent

We all have responsibilities. I carry the rolls of Christian, husband, son, brother, friend, manager, leader, teacher and yes, soon to be father.  But a conversation with a co-worker this past week accidentally gave me some insight into how I can execute each of these rolls successfully.

My co-worker was telling me about a military concept called “commander intent.” In order for the successful execution of a mission, the troops must know the exact details provided by the commander. If they know his or her intent – they know what they have to do and how they have to do it. Without commander intent, the mission would be open for interpretation and the chance of failure or mistakes would be high.

Sounds simple and makes sense. Here’s where the accident happened.

When I first heard him say it, I thought he said “commander in tent” – meaning leaders have to be present, “in the tent”, in order for a successful mission.

[pullquote]…the greatest opportunity for success for a leader requires he or she literally be “in the tent”[/pullquote]That’s when the light bulb turned on. The intent of a leader can best be communicated if he or she is “in the tent.” As a result, the greatest opportunity for success for a leader requires he or she literally be “in the tent”.

The personal application? I have to be physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally “in the tent” if I am going to have the best chance of successfully carrying out the rolls I have in life. The reality is, I’m often not fully “in the tent”. My mind is all over the place, the task list is long, the resources are few and I often can’t seem to find a few extra hours in a day.

But if I’m not a leader in the tent, completely – the “mission” will suffer. My faith, marriage, relationships, team and work won’t be getting all of “their leader”. Like a mission without details, the chance for ultimate success is significantly lowered.

How do I stay in the tent? I believe that will take a much more life to figure out. But here are some lessons I’ve learned thus far.

  • Prioritize – If everything is important, nothing ends up being important. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Look at that which takes up your time (physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally) and “cut the fat”. Some things have to take priority over others based on what they are and the season of life you are in.
  • Get In One Tent At a Time – So much of our life bleeds together, but if you don’t stop it somewhere, it gets overwhelming in a hurry. If you’re still in the “work tent” and you’re at home, talking with your kids attempting to be in the “home tent” – both tents suffer. Get fully in the tent you are supposed to be in in that moment.
  • Guard the Door – There will be countless things that try and get into your tent. Other distractions (people, places or things) that masquerade as “opportunities”. These will often pull you into all sorts of tents, disrupt your focus, leadership, goals and objectives. Saying “no” to something or someone can be a good thing.
  • Know Your Tent – With all that you have to juggle in life it’s easy to abandon certain tents. We put them on “auto-pilot” and go tend to the areas of life that are more exciting or those that are in crisis. But just like a plane can’t land itself, auto-pilot is only good for so long. If you don’t know what’s going on in your family, work, relationships or any other roll you’re in – those you lead will suffer. Know your tent deeply, regularly and fully.

Regardless of the roles you carry, if you lead a family of three or a corporate team of 20, may we all be leaders who are in the tent; leaders who are physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally engaged in the rolls we are called to. The mission is too great for us not to be.

the commander’s stated vision which defines the purpose of an operation, the end state