“You are going to be fine and I am going to be fine.” That’s what controversial Mars Hill Bible Church founding pastor Rob Bell told his congregation on Sunday in his final sermon as their shepherd.
Bell, the pastor who enraged Bible-believing Christians with his book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived, resigned from Mars Hill Bible Church on Thursday to pursue “growing number of strategic opportunities.”
During a 30-minute message to his 7,000-member church, ABC News reports that Bell paused several times to compose himself. He also said he felt a “calling to share God’s love” in new ways. Bell, 41, and his family will move to California in a few months to work on new projects, though he did not disclose the specifics.
"We serve a big God and none of this is shocking to Him,” Bell told the congregation. “All we can do is embrace a future that is going to be brilliant."
Bell’s leadership team announced his decision on a statement published on the Grandville, Mich., church’s website on Thursday:
"The infamous quote 'change is the only constant' certainly holds true at Mars Hill. We have experienced ongoing changes that have improved and transformed—as well as at times unintentionally created tension or heartache within our community. And now, we have another significant change to hold together.
"Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities, our founding pastor Rob Bell has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God’s love with a broader audience.
"It is with deeply mixed emotions that we announce this transition to you. We have always understood, encouraged and appreciated the variety of avenues in which Rob’s voice and the message of God’s tremendous love has traveled over the past 12 years. And we are happy and hopeful that as Rob and Kristen venture ahead, they will find increasing opportunity to extend the heartbeat of that message to our world in new and creative ways."
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