The gods aren’t angry at Rob Bell

Yesterday I was graciously given the gift in the form of an outing with friends to Cleveland’s West Side Market, Great Lakes Brewing Co., and ending with Rob Bell’s, “The Gods Aren’t Angry” tour. Unaware of the days events (I was told to simply mark my calendar and block off time), I was enthused to find out I would be seeing Rob Bell present, as I always enjoy analyzing various approaches to ministry and innovative communicating styles. (I have only seen his videos and read his books, never seeing or hearing him “speak.”).

Outside of Rob’s solid and biblical theme of “Stop trying to earn the favor of God in which you already have,” (ironically my preaching theme for Dec. 30) here were some of my takeaways in Rob’s approach:

Good communicators follow rules. Rob follows the laws of good communication with the use of humor, visuals (an altar), story, conversation, narrative within meta-narrative, animated body language, practicality, repetition, and well-placed music to heighten emotional attachment.

Good communicators also break rules. Rob breaks the rules that we tend to hear within our culture on how to best communicate (especially to the younger generation or “unchurched.). Some rule-breaking practices were the use of a fairly advanced vocabulary, using no slide ware, providing a wide spectrum of historical data (sometimes to the point of irrelevance), speaking for 1 hour and 45 minutes straight, and using “Christianese.”

This is a key lesson in communication. Learn the rules of communication…apply the rules of communication…but as you grow as a communicator, and as you strengthen in your personal style and identity, break the rules that break you from being “you.” Communication rules are made to be broken in order for you to craft your own style. (NOTE: Rob can also break these rules and still be successful because he has the keys to the hearts of this younger generation: Through his writings and Nooma videos he has earned their respect and the right to be heard, establishing authenticity even before stepping on the stage.)

We have all heard someone say, “Yea, they do ____ and don’t do _____, but somehow it works for them.” The key is that what works for them may not work for you. So learn from the techniques & skills of others, but be careful of not patterning their “style” or personality. Be uniquely innovative and authentic while applying skills and traits of effective communicators around you.

Rob is excellent at what he does for whom he targets. We should be grateful for his part in the Christian community…But who will God allow you to target? What old rules will you have to break to reach them, while crafting your own style? What new rules will you need to apply and enhance?


~ by Dave Smith on December 2, 2007.

2 Responses to “The gods aren’t angry at Rob Bell”

  1. Good stuff. But what did you think of his content? Does he view propititation as the purpose of the crucifixion, or just one aspect of it? Does he see Christ’s death as substitutionary or symbolic?

  2. I asked him those very questions and he pointed me to “7 Practices of Effective Ministry” for the answers.

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