What a lot of people call church in America has very little to do with the church Jesus had in mind. I think you just begin by acknowledging that [America’s idea of church] is an absolute total failure.
The whole system that says these few people, because of what they said, did, believe, etc., are going to Heaven and everybody else is going to Hell, is deeply flawed and must die. The system that says big growth and numbers are the goal must also die. The central metaphor Jesus uses is the Eucharist. His body is broken and His blood is poured out to the healing of the world. God is looking for a body of people who will break themselves open and pour themselves out for the healing of the world.
I think the problem is that when people say “church,” may mean religious goods and services where you come and there’s a nice inspiring talk, good coffee in the back, snappy music and everything ends up fine. Jesus speaks of His people who are willing to suffer and die so that the world can be healed—that’s an entirely different proposition.
For us, if you can resolve the sermon in the course of the church service, then the sermon has failed. If you can resolve what’s being talked about just by listening to it, then something’s seriously wrong. The only way to resolve the church service you just experienced, and specifically the sermon, is that you’re going to have to go and wrestle with it and then live it out.
Our interest is not in providing goods and services that will leave you with a well-packaged religious experience. We understand the Gospel to be how you are going to break yourself open and pour yourself out for the healing of the world.
—Rob Bell Tells It Like It Is, Relevant Magazine, Jan-Feb 2008, pp.67-68