The Faith and Leadership blog of Duke Divinity School has an interesting interview with Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, about everything from his love of the old Testament to how to structure church. There is a lot of interesting thoughts throughout the interview some of Bell’s comments on structure stuck out to me.
In discussing challenges his church faced in response to growth, there is this nugget:
“Structure can be lethal. People have accused us at Mars Hill of “going corporate.” In other seasons it’s chaotic. What is interesting is that the better organized we are, the more we can organize around the Spirit and see what fresh winds are blowing. That is the art of it all. When you’re 28, you don’t know that. When we started, we would go a hundred miles an hour and then crash into the brick wall and stand up and go, “OK, that didn’t work. Let’s run this way!” And so there’s definitely been some really significant maturing.”
Organizing “around the Spirit” here is suggesting that structure can actually facilitate recognition of “fresh winds” of the Spirit in our churches.
I have been in extremely organized churches and those with a purpose aversion to structure within services (waiting for the Spirit to do what it will types) but I like Bell’s claim that we notice the movement of the Spirit in our structure. Is there room for the more liturgical among us to influence the rest of us?
There is also something to be said here about setting out to create structure. Bell’s church matured to a point that structure was necessary and I wonder how often we neglect procedure in pursuit of simple. I would never favor an over programmed church but there should be some embrace of structure to maintain growth and ensure the deepening of faith with our churches. Perhaps some ideas here for planters or revivers…
There is a lot more in the interview and video is available on the Duke site.