GracelandAugust 4, 2005
Two weeks ago, I read one of the finest books I have ever read - Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell. As most of you know, Rob is the pastor of Mars Hill in my home state of Michigan. I first heard him speak at our C3 Conference this January and was blown away. When I started reading Velvet Elvis, I found it nearly impossible to put down, devouring it in a weekend. The moment I finished, I knew I would have to read it again, because it is written as a conversation - one that is worth having again.
The book is very different from any I have read, particularly for one about the Christian life. Without drawing clear boundaries, it addresses three distinct audiences - those outside of the Christian faith, current believers, and church leaders. I found myself thinking of people in each group who would benefit greatly from it, which is very odd.
Let me say upfront that I am not a pastor, nor do I play one on the internet. However, I honestly cannot recommend the book more highly, not because it is perfect, but because it is a thrilling, fascinating read.
Rob challenges churches to pour their energy into serving and loving others above all else. He wants churches to be an environment where difficult questions are not only allowed, they are encouraged and part of the day-to-day life of the community.
Rob's passion is for people to take their faith seriously, to explore the profound implications of wearing the label Christian, and to work out that faith in the here and now. In fact, he talks at great length about the phrase "on Earth, as it is in Heaven" and what that means for us in our daily lives.
Along the way, he offers a number of interesting asides, including his aversion to hearing the word marketing in the same sentence as the word church or the use of Christian as an adjective rather than a noun, as in Christian music.
The book will inspire you, frustrate you, and above all else, challenge you to rethink and reexamine your own beliefs and approach to sharing the Gospel. As he paints his picture, his Velvet Elvis, you may find much to dislike. I think Rob is cool with that, because you just might pick up a brush and start to paint your own.
Maybe I've a reason to believe
We all will be received
> Graceland > Paul Simon