Rob Bell has decided to leave Mars Hill Bible Church, the Grandville, Michigan, megachurch he and his wife founded 12 years ago, to focus on a broader audience, the church announced today.

Flickering Pixels author Shane Hipps will take over for Bell during spring 2012 after Bell finishes his series on Acts in December.

Update 9/25/2011:

Rob Bell told Mars Hill today that he will leave for Los Angeles to follow a “calling to share God's love” in new ways, WZZM reports from Grand Rapids. He will move with his family to California to continue writing books and speaking on national and international tours, but he will not start a new church, he said.

Bell will launch his "Fit to Smash Ice Tour" in Canada in November and continue the tour in the U.S. "We serve a big God and none of this is shocking to him,” WZZM reports Bell said during his sermon. “All we can do is embrace a future that is going to be brilliant."

Bell continues to promote his bestselling book Love Wins, and David Vanderveen announced the completion of the Love Wins companion study guide due from HarperOne in November.

CT has covered Rob Bell in many articles, including the initial coverage of his book and then follow-up analysis, a book review, a response book excerpt, and an interview with Francis Chan.

(The following was posted on 9/22/2011.)

The church released the following statement on its site:

Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities, our founding pastor Rob Bell, has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God's love with a broader audience.
It is with deeply mixed emotions that we announce this transition to you. We have always understood, encouraged, and appreciated the variety ...
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