Rob Bell’s last Sunday at Mars Hill in Michigan at the end of last year. According to MLive.com, the Sunday services wrapped months of transition for the church following Bell’s September resignation and subsequent move to the Los Angeles area to create an ABC television drama with ‘Lost’ producer Carlton Cuse, loosely based on Bell’s life.
It was in a final sermon in December that he shared with the church what he called a confession — his last message:
“I feel like I’m just getting started, like I’m a rookie, a freshman, a newb,” he told a gathering of several thousand that Dec. 18 day. “I feel like the world is big and wide and open.”
It was into that open world that colleagues sent Bell this week with well wishes. Christian singer/songwriter David Crowder made a surprise appearance to lead worship.
Thousands raised their hands Sunday during a send-off prayer after co-pastor Shane Hipps presented Bell and his wife Kristen with a book of stories and good wishes collected locally and from those who’ve listened to Bell’s sermons online around the world.
Hipps continued with words that drew laughter: “Mars Hill is not Rob Bell. It’s a whole lot bigger than Rob and Kristen. It’s as big as God himself,” he said. “I’m hoping 10 years from now you will say, ‘Rob Bell? That sounds familiar.’”
Lee Jager, the church’s communications director, said a meeting is planned for covenant members Monday night to discuss what’s next for the congregation — whether to begin a search process for another lead pastor and how that may work. Information will be posted on the church’s website.
In the coming months, Hipps will continue to teach, Jager said, with guest speakers filling in periodically.