After reporting on Rob Bell's tour last month, Chad Hall has been wondering about the influence of young Christian leaders like Bell. Are these "new bishops" the result of a generation searching for leaders outside traditional church structures, or are they a product of publishers and slick marketing?

I've been thinking lately about how influential a few leaders are in evangelical Christian America – especially among younger Christ-followers. Such leaders exercise a tremendous amount of influence on the thought and practice of other church leaders. I've come to think of them as the real bishops of today.

Just like the earliest church fathers, today's bishops earnestly seek to discern what faithfulness is and then dispense their discernment among followers. Oh yes, and just like the old bishops, the new ones sometimes disagree and dispute what it means to be faithful and the dispute can carry over to their followers (as an earlier post re: Rob Bell and Mark Driscoll demonstrated).

So what gave rise to these new bishops? Three primary factors…

First, denominations are waning and few church leaders look to denominational leaders as experts on how to think theologically or practice church ministry well. Even in traditions who ordain bishops, the influence of these leaders to affect the thought and practice of those they serve is diminishing.

Second, geography has shrunk through the use of media such as the internet and especially the blogosphere, thus giving the masses access to leaders they'd otherwise never have encountered. And unlike TV and radio, the internet allows followers to interact with one another and reinforce allegiance to bishops. Getting a following today doesn't require years of moving up the church hierarchy, ...

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Career  |  Consumerism  |  Discernment  |  Media  |  Preachers  |  Theology
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