The announcement several days ago that Shane Hipps, author of Flickering Pixels (Zondervan) would be leaving Trinity Mennonite Church in Glendale, Arizona to join the teaching staff of Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan has been greeted with mixed reactions. In case you don’t know Shane, here’s how his personal website tells it:
Prior to accepting his call as a pastor, Shane was a strategic planner in advertising where he gained experience in understanding media and culture. Much of his time was spent working on the multimillion-dollar communications strategy for Porsche Cars North America.
Several years into his career, he had a “Damascus” experience in which he realized he was spending his life working diligently to perpetuate consumer culture and promote values that ran counter to his most deeply held beliefs. So he left advertising to pursue his long held interest in spirituality and theology.
He went on to earn a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary, and in 2004 accepted a call to serve as Lead Pastor at Trinity.
The heresy-hunting website Apprising Ministries wasted no time — and no love — to proclaim that Hipps joining Rob Bell amounted to “peas in a corrupt spiritual pod;” mixing the metaphor with a picture of sheep jumping off a cliff. C’mon guys, tell us what you really think.
I mentioned last week my own concerns with Rob Bell’s recent interview with the Boston Globe. But the sensationalism of Apprising — a ministry birthed by Ken Silva, a SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) pastor in America — somewhat destroys their credibility.
Instead, I decided to head over to Trinity Mennonite’s website and in particular take the time to listen to Shane’s announcement — it’s not his final sermon — to his church in its entirety. It was, I believe one of the finest sermons I’ve ever heard where a pastor defines his calling to move on. And while the sermon was somewhat of an administrative necessity, he alluded to several passages of scripture.
“I can’t resign from this community. My heart is still here. I love this community. …But I have to leave. So I told them they’ll either have to fire me or send me. It is my humble wish that somewhere down the road you will be able to send me, because I need you; I carry you with me.”
Several times he tells his congregation that he loves them. Something you don’t often hear pastors say with this level of emotion. He tells them that he didn’t “create” anything at Trinity, but simply “named” the giftings that were working within the congregation.
I personally doubt if any of the Apprising Ministries people bothered to listen to that sermon. They don’t know Shane’s heart. And based on their resource list, they don’t understand the next generation — or ministry to the next generation — whether labeled emergent, emerging, missional or postmodern.
You can hear the sermon by clicking on the sermon audio page, and selecting Sunday, October 4th. Take the time to listen as you’re working at your computer for the next half hour.