Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rob Bell "I invite you to become thoroughly unbalanced like me."

Excerpts from "Crafting an Experience: How to fully engage listeners," by Rob Bell:

What we need are people who will approach the text and say, "God, what do you want to unleash here?" The guiding principle is the text, and you've encountered the living, sacred Word, and you're going to explode if you don't share what's happened in you, as opposed to Well, I guess I have to start it this way. You don't. I have to have an intro. Prove it. Maybe some teaching people have no idea where you're going until the last minute, and maybe that's why it works.

When Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan, everybody thought it was going to be a Pharisee who stops, and a Samaritan stops. Get it? He has them. He's working them over.

Sometimes I intentionally have three teachings going at the same time. I want you to be wondering, That has nothing to do with what you're saying now. I have no idea And then at the end, oooh. If you don't get that oooh, you're in trouble.

These are questions I ask myself. How can I make it as hard as possible for somebody to sit with a holy stare? How can I make it so you have to engage? How can I create an experience such that it becomes harder and harder for people to stay spectators? What's happening in this text? What could I have people do? What could I have them say to each other? What can I have them feel, hold, or look at? Is there something I could hand out?

If people can smell it, the kids can chew it, if you can create as many different dimensions as possible—many of us are tactile—if we can feel it, it makes more sense.

I did this message on "The Gospel According to Salsa," and talked about how my wife makes the best salsa in the world. And I will arm-wrestle you about that. Everything in my wife's salsa was living at one point. The tomato was living. The parsley was living. The cilantro was living. The onion was living. But in order for it to be made into salsa, it had to be plucked from its life source. The tomato had to be cut from the vine. All of your food was living at one point, but it had to be severed. It had to die in order for it to make it to your plate. If you're at a restaurant and your food is not dead, leave immediately. But there's this principle in which we have to eat to live.

What's interesting about your food is that everything that you eat—and food gives you life—it had to die first. Death is the engine of life. The worm is eaten by the bird, which is eaten by the cat, which is eaten by the wolf, which is eaten by the grandchildren of the worm. Even in the physical realm, death is the engine of life. That's why a Twinkie isn't good for you, because it was never really alive.


Another thing we do is assume a teaching is about me talking. There are times when the worst thing I should do is talk. I heard a teaching the other day; a guy told the most unbelievable personal story. It was an overwhelming story. The problem was, previous to that story was a lot of talk, and immediately following the story was a lot of talk. Mark Twain said, "if I would have had more time, I would have said less." That story was brilliant, but it got steamrolled by the stuff before and after. You don't have to talk the whole time to be preaching.

What I'm learning is there are times when the worst thing I can do is talk. For me, in my message "The Goat Has Left the Building," when the high priest was walking toward his seat, it was sacred moment. I can't explain it. The problem with some of our preaching is you can explain it. You got your four points, your three applications, and this is what the text means.

At the end of the parable of the prodigal son, is Jesus saying, "Okay, here's the deal—God is the father figure"?

What if at the end of Gladiator, Ridley Scott, the director, came out and said, "My intention was that you identified with Russell Crowe"? Great stories tell themselves. What we need are the storytellers...

There are no rules. Other than basic things like doctrine: God and Jesus. But in terms of how you're going to do it, maybe there's no intro. Maybe the whole point of the teaching is it comes at you and people are just, like, wow!

I did a teaching one time on silence where I put the whole teaching on slides and stood there for forty-five minutes. At the end I said, "Let's stand for a benediction." Up came "May the Lord bless you and keep you," and I waved and walked off..


I work on teachings for as long as four to six months, a year. You'd think I was obnoxious because if we go out to lunch I'll be diagramming on a napkin.

If you're married and I said, "Tell me about your wedding day," you could tell it to me. You wouldn't say, "I forgot my notes." No, you just tell me.

Those of you who have kids, if I asked, "How old are your kids, and what are their names?" You won't say, "I have my notes some place. I don't have my PowerPoint with me." No. Boom, boom, boom, these are the ages. Why? Because it's a part of you.

What if your teaching was such a part of you it was like telling about your wedding day or like telling about your first job? What would it be like if you could tell it like it was a story you told 200 times?

That's my passion. I have found the harder I work and the farther out I've been working on it, the more freedom I have.

The people who are listening to you, they know when it's become a part of you. They can feel when the speaker is just giving some information and observation, and they know when it is coming right through your soul.

We don't need people who sing the notes off a chart. We need soul singers. We need prophets. We need poets. Our generation needs people who have had an experience. They've got their hair set on fire. They're wild-eyed, and they can't wait. I got to say this, or I'm going to explode.

I've been wrestling with this lately. God makes the world in six days; rests on the seventh. Six days, seven. Six, one. Six, one. There is a rhythm to six days on and one day off. I started thinking about drummers and how drumming is all about the spaces. It's all about hitting it and then backing off. Music and beat and meter and drum are a reflection of how God made the world. If you don't take that day and live according to the beat God has put in creation, your song isn't going to be good. When the drummer is off, the whole song falls apart. Rhythm is something that's built in; it's elemental to life.

Everybody I come in contact with, I say, "Check this out. Think about this. Sabbath and drums." I get something like this, and I can't shut up about it. By the time I get to share it with people, I will have told the person at the gas station. I will have told the person at 7/11—everybody I come in contact with. "Check this out. Sabbathdrums."

I invite you to become thoroughly unbalanced like me.

-Rob Bell, full article here

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