Pastor  Rob Bell has made the decision to leave the church he founded in order to focus on other works such as books and speaking engagements.

“I know Rob Bell. I don’t know everything Rob is doing next, but I don’t think Rob is any less of a leader, speaker, father or pastor by stepping away from Mars Hill,” said Craig Gross, pastor and founder of, in a recent blog post.

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“I am bothered when I read online about whether that was right for Rob to leave.”

Gross was responding to criticism Bell received after announcing last month that he will step down as pastor of Mars Hill Bible Church, which he led for 12 years. Bell is leaving the Grandville, Mich., megachurch, to pursue a new calling he feels God has placed on him, which involves speaking tours and other projects. According to the church, his desire is to share “the message of God’s love with a broader audience.”

“A new vision, … a new calling has been birthed in my bones,” Bell told his congregation last month. “I have to pursue this new vision.”

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