'Geeky Hip' New Billy Graham Grabs Next Generation

Masses won over by Bell's 'Letterman' style
By Marcia Greenwood,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2007 5:30 AM CST

Bible-thumper Rob Bell wears geeky-hip glasses, once aspired to be David Letterman, and was momentarily poised for rock stardom, reports Time magazine. And he may be "one of the most important 21st Century Christian leaders," according to one biblical scholar. Nine years ago, Bell founded a nontraditional church called Mars Hill in Michigan for Christians left cold by traditional services, and support has been surging ever since.

Today, his stand-up-style monologues, which are a little bit Letterman and a little bit NPR's Ira Glass, draw 11,000 people a week. The question is whether Bell, 37, can sell his approach to the rest of the Evangelical world or whether, as Christianity Today editor Andy Crouch puts it, he'll "remain more of a singular rock star in the church world." (More fundamentalism stories.)

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