Rob Bell’s Successor, Kent Dobson, at Mars Hill Steps Down: ‘Being a Pastor at a Church Is Not Really Who I Am’

Pastor Kent Dobson speaks during a Sunday worship service at Mars Hill Bible Church. (MLive.com file)
Pastor Kent Dobson speaks during a Sunday worship service at Mars Hill Bible Church. (MLive.com file)

Rob Bell’s successor at Mars Hill Bible Church is stepping down, with no clear plan for what to do next.

Kent Dobson announced Sunday, Nov. 22, he will leave his role as teaching pastor of the megachurch in the spring. There’s no “secret reason” for his departure, he said, and it’s not that Mars Hill isn’t progressive enough for him.

Rather, “being a pastor at a church is not really who I am,” Dobson told the church. You can watch his announcement here.

“I have always been and I’m still drawn to the very edges of religion and faith and God,” Dobson said. “I’ve said a few times that I don’t even know if we know what we mean by God anymore. That’s the edges of faith. That’s the thing that pulls me. I’m not really drawn to the center. I’m not drawn to the orthodox or the mainstream or the status quo.

“And I think all churches have to have a center. It helps them define who they are, but I’m always wandering out to the edge and beyond.”

Dobson became teaching pastor of Mars Hill in 2012, shortly after founding pastor Rob Bell moved to California. Previously, he taught religion in schools, led tours to Israel and was featured on Biblical programs for the History Channel and the Discovery Channel.

Dobson in 2008 resigned from a teaching position at NorthPointe Christian School amid fallout from a Discovery Channel program in which he appeared.

The son of Ed Dobson, a longtime pastor of Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, Kent Dobson was drawn to Mars Hill when Bell started it because “for the first time in my life I felt like it was OK to have questions and still go to church.” But being pastor of Mars Hill “has not felt right, like I was wearing someone else’s suit that didn’t fit right,” he said.

In a half-hour talk Sunday, Dobson stated he’s “not leaving for some secret reason.” While he did touch on same-sex couples in the church, Dobson, whose brother is gay, said he’s not leaving Mars Hill because it’s not progressive enough on issues of sexuality and the church.

“It is true that my views are progressive, but I’ve never felt that Mars Hill needed to think like me,” he said. “I never felt like Mars Hill, like other kinds of churches, that I needed to come down the mountain like Moses and draw a line in the sand and say everybody’s gotta be like me or they can hit the road.

“I am open and affirming but I always have been. I’ve always said that in the Jesus community, there are no second-class citizens, period.”

 

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SOURCE: Michigan Live
Matt Vande Bunte

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