Thinking Out Loud

October 14, 2009

Shane Hipps to Join Mars Hill

shane hippsThe 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.

sheep_off_cliffThe 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.


  1. Paul,

    “any of the Apprising Ministries people…”

    There’s only me.

    And I would suggest that you make the time to read what I’ve written about the heretical neo-gnostic sermons Hipps has preached, which I .

    Comment by Ken Silva — October 14, 2009 @ 5:36 pm

  2. Paul,

    Opps, I’m sorry; comment got sent before I finished it.

    I have interacted at AM with sermons by Hipps, and his close friend Rob Bell, that are decidedly not within orthodox Christianity.

    Comment by Ken Silva — October 14, 2009 @ 7:08 pm

  3. It’s too bad Shane has decided to leave Phoenix. We need people like him here. But he’s right, he named the things already going on at Trinity. I can understand moving on too, especially after leaving the valley during one of the worst summers we’ve had to go to Grand Rapids. I about ready to move away too. I look forward to seeing how God uses him at Mars Hill.

    As for Ken’s comments, I’d recommend just to ignore him. Thankfully, Ken is not on the judgement seat, God is. Follow the grand Mennonite tradition of nonviolence. It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel (Pr. 20:3)

    Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.  And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2 Tim. 2:23-24)

    Comment by Joshua — October 15, 2009 @ 9:59 pm

  4. As a part of the Mars community, I am thankful that God has given Shane as a gift to Mars Hill. I am excited to learn from him.

    Comment by Mike & Linda Otis — October 16, 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  5. I’ve just heard a sermon by Shane Hipps on the first few verses of Jonah and it was one of the worst interpretations that I have ever heard. He made an historical text fully allegorical. He made things up out of the clear blue and made it sound that this is what he saw from the text. The blind leading the blind.

    Comment by Rev. Dr. G. R. Diehl — March 9, 2010 @ 1:48 am

  6. It is interesting that the place we begin so impacts our reactions to things like this. I was there that morning and of course heard the message and I was challenged to consider the application without ever sensing an allegorical emphasis or conclusion.

    Comment by Mike & Linda Otis — March 9, 2010 @ 10:24 am

  7. Hi! I found the image of the sheep walking over the cliff, and I want to use it. Is there a copyright associated with it?


    Comment by Brett Buchanan — May 18, 2010 @ 6:28 pm

    • Follow the link in the story to Apprising Ministries. It’s from there. Just don’t read anything when you get there.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — May 18, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

  8. Here’s the link to the image on your site:

    I am interested in using this image and want to know if there is a copyright.

    Comment by Brett Buchanan — May 18, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

    • See previous reply to your previous comment.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — May 18, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

  9. You know I’m sorry I just don’t get this

    “understand the next generation — or ministry to the next generation ”

    speak. I’m from the next generation that Shane Hipps and Rob Bell who are older than me are trying to reach. They preach nothing of any lasting consequence, nothing that is properly rooted in the Bible. I can’t be doing with these older guys with their “trendy retro” glasses trying to “reach my generation” with their incoherent unorthodox rubbish. Give me “old”, “irrelevant” men like John MacArthur and D. A. Carson any day.

    Comment by Kate — June 10, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

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