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Dec 01, 2006


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The feed on this is painfully slow. My computer buffered about 200 times. It was almost unwatchable.

That said, I've just about put my finger on what bothers me about Rob Bell. I really like a lot of his teaching - we use the Nooma videos in our young adult Sunday School, etc. But the man is painfully hip. Bell's shtick wouldn't work if he were bald. And that's one of the things that bothers me about so many among the "emerging" leadership. At some level, they're posturing.

I know, I know: Charles Stanley et al. are posturing too, in a different way. But that doesn't make it right. And I worry about the future of a "movement" that's almost completely identified with white 28-year-old hipsters with soul patches and ironic vintage t-shirts.

Michael W. Kruse

"The feed on this is painfully slow."

Sorry about that. Must be hoardes of people flocking from my blog to view the vid. *grin*

"But the man is painfully hip."

LOL. Yes, I know what you mean.

"At some level, they're posturing."

Yeah, I get the sense that they are trying to hard to fit an image. Speaking as a forty-something I suspect some of that may be youth. Still I think much of Bell's message is good.

Ted Gossard

Everything was so fast, I couldn't make out a word. Don't know what's up there.

I've heard Rob Bell in person more than once. In my experience with that, I really just sense that he is himself. He really isn't trying to impress anyone, is the way he comes across to me. He's just being himself. And of course that's certainly different for him than it is for me, at my age, at 50.

I do think we kind of become like those we hang out with. This is certainly true as I see my past. No put on, I'm aware of. Just imbibing their spirit.

But I'm with you, Michael. I like most all of what Rob says, very much, myself.

Michael W. Kruse

"In my experience with that, I really just sense that he is himself."

I agree.


I've met Rob also and I am fairly sure that is a genuine guy really trying to make a difference. Now I don't spend 24 hours a day with the man, but he seems to be true to what he writes and speaks, so I have a hard time criticizing him on the substance of his message. If we are going to criticize style and shirts then we are no different than other superficial critics of Christianity folks :)

Bell is the only contemporary guy I know of -- besides myself of course :) -- that really attempts to contextualize Scripture both historically and culturally. It's crucial to making Christianity effective in a world looking for answers.

Oh, and one more thing - the video stream is an 800K stream which is a BIG chunk of bandwidth. If you don't have a very fast and big Internet pipe, forget it, you can't watch it.


I wasn't suggesting that Rob Bell himself is a poseur. From what I know about his background, he's always been a hipster of sorts. I just meant to express a little discomfort with the prevalent notion that to be "emerging" one has to dress like, well... Rob Bell.

For the record, I'm 30, which makes me six years younger than Bell. What I hate most about my own generation is its utter fixation with image, almost a marketing of the self. Your average 25-year-old identifies himself as much with favorite bands and brands than with family or faith. I hate to see that imported into the church.


Andy, that is a valid concern, but we can't generalize it. Many younger Christians are actually become "anti-brand" consumers and refuse to wear any clothing that carries out a brand label or printing of the store's name. What you are pointing out is an overreaction to "stuffy Christianity" perhaps, so that could be what you are observing.

What are you suggesting the solution to this is? Suit and tie? :) And why specifically is it wrong for a teacher to be "hip" in the sense of becoming more palatable to an audience?

Michael W. Kruse

I think many of those who have been leading the way with the Emerging Church conversation are highly attuned to cultural signals. I find a high number of artistic folks drawn to the Emerging conversation as well. That has an impact on self-expression. That doesn't make the expression good or bad.

I don't get the least bit of falsehood from Bell but I run into a lot of folks who seem to be Bell-want-to-bes that are trying on different skins rather than being themselves.

Most of the Emergent leaders I have come into contact have a genuine artistic-idealistic-culturally attuned bent that comes through in how they present themselves. The message to the less hip among us is to be who you are, not be Rob Bell.

Michael W. Kruse

Contentwise, One of the things I liked about Bell's was that he started his church by preaching from Leviticus, looking at the book within the context of the culture. Very cool!


WOW. This was great. GREAT. Thanks, Michael. (And...who cares what Bell dresses like? If he likes to dress hip, why is that bad? He doesn't appear to have an attitude or anything nasty--let the guy dress in the way that he wants-sheesh!)...

Michael Kruse

You are welcome, Molly.

I find issues like the dialog here about how a leader is perceived very interesting. There is much conversation about icons in the Emerging Curch conversation. There is talk about the importance of the space used for worship and being multi-sensory. There is often critique of Evangelical churches and the nature of there church buildings. Bell spends time in this interview talking about the importance of the space his congregation worships in. To some degree the Emerging Conversation invites the critique of appearance.

I have also been a part of enough Emerging Church and Emergent events to get a sense that "hip intellectual" is often communicated (intentionally or not) as the thing to be. If you are not into the books being read, the podcasts being listened to, etc., etc. then you are going to be on the outside. The “hip” appearance stuff only reinforces the attraction for those who are passionate about this stuff and reinforces the distance for those who find it esoteric.

That said, there are always those who will find anything and everything to nitpick at. :)

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