The Common Good

Mars Hill Bible Church Names Rob Bell’s Successor

GRANDVILLE, Mich. — Mars Hill Bible Church has appointed a new teaching pastor, months after founding pastor and well-known author Rob Bell departed for California.

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In an email sent on Wednesday to members of the Grandville, Mich., church, leaders announced Kent Dobson had accepted the lead position.

Dobson served as a worship director in the church’s early days and has preached as a guest speaker in the months since Bell left. He is the son of Ed Dobson, pastor emeritus at Calvary Church in Grand Rapids.

“It’s been 7 months since we began our search for a teaching pastor, and we are so thankful for your prayers throughout this process,” church leaders said in the note to members. “As a long-time member and frequent guest teacher, Kent both knows and loves our community.”

Dobson will be formally introduced on Sept. 9 during the church’s 9 and 11 a.m. services.

Messages left with Dobson and Lee Jager, the church’s communications director, were not returned Wednesday night.

Dobson has most recently served as a religion teacher and spiritual life director at Grand Rapids Christian Schools.

He lived for some time in Israel and attended Jerusalem University College and Hebrew University.

He has led pilgrimage trips overseas since 2001, according to his website.

Dobson also has been featured on biblical programs for the History Channel and the Discovery Channel.

He resigned from a teaching position at NorthPointe Christian School in 2008 amid fallout from a Discovery Channel program in which he appeared. The program questioned Jesus’ birthplace and whether there are truths in the Gnostic gospels, a collection of noncanonical texts.

“Some think asking questions is a sign of lack of faith,” Dobson said in a later interview. “I can’t imagine any kind of mature faith without questions.”

Mars Hill founding pastor Rob Bell, who garnered national attention last year for his controversial book, “Love Wins,” left in January to pursue independent ministry plans near Los Angeles.

Shane Hipps, who had co-taught along with Bell, earlier this year declined a full-time position at the church.

Several people turned to Twitter and Facebook on Wednesday evening to share their thoughts on Dobson in the Mars Hill leadership position. Comments were overwhelmingly supportive.

"I just received an email stating that Kent Dobson will be accepting the role of Teaching Pastor at Mars Hill Bible Church. I think that's awesome! He brings insightful teaching and good delivery to the role. I always learn something when I listen to him," one Facebook user said.

"Super excited about Kent Dobson accepting the role of Teaching Pastor at @marshillorg," said Twitter user adammack_miller.

Heidi Fenton writes for The Grand Rapids Press in Grand Rapids, Mich. Via RNS.

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