Thursday, June 28, 2007


So i thought, you know, better late than never, the day before i finish Relay that it was time to engage with something that seems to be big amongst some Christian students. Some people love Rob Bell's Nooma videos, they want them shown at CU meetings, in cell groups, they seem to prefer them to Bible teaching, they talk about them on Facebook and Youtube with great enthusaism. And i wanted to know why. Now, i'm going to be honest, i love the Bible. I know that at times i sound like something of a Bibliolator in the way i speak about the Word, but i don't think i actually am. I'd always rather have the Bible open in a hall group, house group, CU meeting or eveb just a conversation. So, i was pretty clear on what i'd make of them before i started, even though i was trying to be objective and fair.

Rob Bell seems like a good bloke. He's got cool glasses, seems to love Jesus as far as you can tell from ten minute videos and clealry believes in what he's doing. I think we'd get on very well together. I watched three videos, rain, noise and kickball, i'm not sure how many there are altogether, a dozen or so? And heres the good stuff about them...

They are cool. There's no getting away from that. Rob is easy to listen to, they are well produced, slick and use good music. If i wanted to show a non Christian friend that Christians could be worldy cool, this is where i'm taking them. The three i saw were easy to watch, funny at times, thought provoking and sort of engaging. Engaging in that they are easy to listen to...although that might be a criticism as we'll come to later. I actually enjoyed 'Rain' and 'Noise' on this level. 'Rain' was comforting and heart warming...he obviously loves his son very much. The use of every day life experiences as analogies was cool, and helped me get into what he was saying a bit.

There is a large 'but' coming sadly. They didn't really say much. Ten minutes is a long time to take in saying 'God will protect you' (rain) or 'God knows best' (kickball) or 'we need to listen to God' (noise). Thats really all that came out of those three, and that comes to nearly thirty minutes of tape. The use of scripture was patchy at best, although not often used out of context, just sometimes. He often used scripture to prove his point, rather than the other way round.

In the three that i watched, and i accept it may be different in others, i don't think he said 'Jesus' once. Now, since Jesus is who makes us Christians, thats a fairly big oversight. He's who i need to know about, and relate to, as nice as it was, i didn't need to know about what happens when Rob Bell goes shopping, or hangs out with his son. Not that there's anything bad about those stories...but less of you please Rob, and more, much more of Jesus. Linked to this, i guess it's pretty obvious that if you don't talk about Jesus you won't talk about the cross. Come on man, it's the Gospel that saves us, and strengthens us. Thats all we need to know. It's not the bridge to something better, it's all there is. Tell your church, and my students the Gospel please! Maybe he does in the other ones but not doing it in three is fairly serious in my view.

I guess my biggest problem with Nooma, along with the lack of the Gospel, or any meat, is that i'm not really sure what they' re for. Are they supposed to replace Bible exposition at churches? or studies on small groups? No thank you. Are they supposed to be evangelistic? No thank you. Are they supposed to appeal to people who are disaffected by church? Who are tired of religion? Well maybe. But in that case they should really be more focused on the cross, although, to be fair, if you were hurting and unsure of where God is in a messed up world, they might get you on the right path. Might. And it's not like Rob is spewing heresy...he just doen't say much of anything. And it's all dressed up in good camera work and music.

So, i guess thats my main point about Nooma. They're not all bad, they're just not very good. Possibly indicative of the loose atitude towards doctine and Bible teaching in this generation. They don't really say much, or serve any purpose that i can think of that isn't already served by the Bible. It's worrying that so many people think they're great, although, to be fair, maybe the others are...but i wouldn't hold my breath on that. I guess it's a good thing that someone is trying to reach out to people that are turned off by the church, but i really don't think this is the best way to do it... So lets do it better ways, with God's Words, and Gods Gospel.


Craig said...

That was a very good explanation of the videos, I always felt there was something lacking when I saw them and thought he never hit home which in most cases is bringing it back to the cross and Jesus.

Caleb Woodbridge said...

My church uses the Nooma videos occasionally. We watched "Baggage" about forgiveness in our home group last week, since we're doing a series of studies on being community. We'd already read a couple of Bible passages on the subject, and we basically used it as something to help kick off discussion. In my experience, the Nooma videos have more to say and more to discuss than one single sentence message.

We've also had them in the morning services a few times, early in the service around the same time as we have a children's talk, and where we might sometimes have a drama sketch or something else slightly different (book review or whatever) before the sermon. Just something interesting to get people thinking, and that looks slick while it's at it, too.

It seems to me that they're more a kind of meditation on a particular subject, intended to get people thinking. I think there's a place for that and they do that quite well, but only as an "added extra" to help get into the Bible, not a replacement for actually reading, studying and preaching it.

FloydTheBarber said...

Hi Caleb,

Sure, they absolutley can not under any circumstances replace the Bible, my fear is that in many circles they are.

Is watching 10 minutes of Nooma the best way to spend our time? You could read a lot of the Bible in that time, which would surely be a better basis for discussion. They are, after all hardly saturated in scripture are they?

I think my whole problem with them (apart from just not really getting them) is that they make people think, as you seem to have suggested, the somehow the Bible on its own isn't enough, but that we need something 'interesting' to 'get people thinking'. I wonder what the dude who wrote psalm 119 would have made of that?

Anonymous said...

I've just stumbled upon your blog and thought I'd respond to your interesting review of Nooma..

If you ever listen to Rob preach you will know that this is a man who LOVES the Bible too, and more than that, loves Jesus deeply. His church is ANYTHING but flashy form over substance with him preaching from the Bible from both the New AND the Old Testaments (something of a novelty in our evangelical churches today!) for usually an hour. As for the Noomas not having any gospel, if by that you mean he doesn't spell penal substitution then your right. But neither did Jesus as far as we know, so we can forgive him that. But as another commenter has also pointed out that isn't their purpose. They're supposed to be discussion starters, stuff to get people thinking who perhaps couldn't begin to engage with the Bible straight off. It's all very well to say "the bible is enough' and I agree..but the very simple fact is that people do not read it. So why not use good quality, well produced media as a way of communicating scriptural ideas and messages and sparking discussion? Then the church or whoever is using them can fill in the gaps with whoever is watching them.

Adam G


FloydTheBarber said...

Hi Adam,

the Gospel is a multi faceted jewel, not only consisting of PSA, but Rob manages to barely make a mention of the cross of even Jesus Himself. I've never listened to any of his preaching, and after all, thats not what's know for among people who watch Nooma is it? And anyway, i'm not talking about his church.
Lastly, i agree totally that people don't take reading the Bible seriously enough, but giving them yet another alternative to the Bible is hardly going to inspire them is it?

Daniel said...

Thanks for this Ed. I think you hit a very fair and balanced note in your critiuq of Nooma, which tallies well with my own experience of them (I've seen different ones to three you list).

That doesn't just go for your post itself, but also your comments/replies. Good work.

I'm concerned that the biggest part of me screaming to accept Bell/Nooma/Velvet Elvis isn't the part that says "Be generous to a brother, even if you don't see eye to eye"; its the part that says "Ah! But it's so COOL!" I think that's the trap so many have dropped into. I'm praying none of us makes the sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Rob is trying to give anyone an alternative to the Bible, and I'm sure he would be horrified at the idea. I believe he is trying to communicate the Bible to a generation of people who simply would never pick up a Bible or cross the threshold of a church and have no clue about who Jesus was or is. Nooma surely is designed to spark conversations, to challenge ingrained ideas and misconceptions about Jesus. A bit like Jesus himself who told parables and stories with great depth of meaning to be explored and wrestled with by the listeners that were often subversive and surprising, not doctrinal lectures, or an expository sermon.

You are right in that the cross is not centre stage, but then he doesn't mention loads of other key doctrines explicitly, creation, fall, incarnation, divinity of Jesus or even the resurrection (without denying any!). Yet in all of the ones that I have seen, Jesus is centre stage. The content of these videos it seems is not preaching, but profound and challenging comments about what it is to follow Jesus, flowing from reflections on bits of Jesus life and teaching. So for example, in "Bullhorn", Rob challenges the methods we use in evangelism using a number of passages from Scripture. He takes the example of "Bullhorn guy" (never heard of a bullhorn, but apparently it's a loudspeaker!) and challenges the content of our preaching as it measures up to teaching of Jesus and how closely our delivery reflects our message, in a winsome and engaging way. You don't have to agree with him. So often I find that evangelicals who say and do things a bit differently are critiqued about what they don't say, than what they DO say. Rather than simply pointing out things that Rob hasn't mentioned, why don't we engage with what he actually does say in the videos?

Adam G

thebluefish said...

Adam, what you say suggests that Nooma is designed to speak to those who are in the church - who presumably do open the Bible... though you said it wasn't for them. It is good for us to get outsiders thinking, but we can just open the Bible with them.

I was saddened earlier this year when I saw Nooma used instead of Bible teaching to appease Christians who didn't want Bible teaching. I'll grant that's not Bell's intention, but that's the danger we face in the UK church where Christians have bought the lie that they needn't bother with the Bible...

Anonymous said...

True, I have confused who I believe the Nooma audience to be. The reason is, I actually went back and watched a couple of them after I read Ed's post to refresh my memory. I found myself challenged by the couple that I watched which made me realise that while I think they are useful tools in encouraging people who would never open a Bible to rethink their misconceptions of Jesus, even we in the Church have misconceptions about Jesus. We can never pin him down or get to a point where we can say say we fully comprehend all that Jesus is. His life, his words and his works have an infinite and inexhaustible depth that I hope to spend all of eternity exploring. Rob I believe helps us to strip back some of the accretions that we have collected over the years that are not true to the Jesus of the Bible and helps us to see Him more clearly.

I fully agree that opening the Bible with people is vital and crucial and I'm sure Rob does too. I'm a passionate student of Scripture and the biggest thrill is to read Scripture with someone who doesn't know Jesus and to introduce them to him in it's pages. But I really don't think Rob is hindering us in that task. I think what he has produced are thoughtul resources to help us wrestle with the Scriptures both those of us inside the Church, and those outside of it. They are not replacements for the Bible, for preaching, or for using the Bible in our evangelism.

Adam G

Anonymous said...

Ya might want to check out DUST--it's kinda all about Jesus :-)

Anonymous said...

You might want to check out all the Nooma's before you pass judgement. Watching 3 of 16 (soon to be 17) is not a large sample to work off of.
You summed up the 3 you watched in 3 simple statements, but they are really much more than that. If you use these videos in small groups, they open up a ton of areas for discusion, especially if you use the user guides.
Getting people to break out of the conventional thinking, and actualy think for themselves, to challenge what they have been taught is a good thing. Don't just believe something because your parents believed it, and the pastor preaches it. Dig into God's word for yourself!
Just as the church uses "other things" to get people into their services, Rob Bell uses his Nooma's to get people exposed to Christ, and his beliefs.
I think that is what is best about the Nooma's (and yes, I have watched and own all of them). They make you think about things that you might normally take for granted. Go watch "Breathe" for instance. It talks about how every breath we take is really speaking the name of God.
As Adam has said, I don't believe Rob Bell ever intended for the Nooma's to replace bible study. Just as you would and should use other resources (different versions, commentaries, etc...), you can also use the Nooma's.
There is no replacement for studying the bible, but opening up different views, and presenting them in an easy to understand way can be great for younger christians, who may not fully comprehend the bible.

thebluefish said...

"There is no replacement for studying the bible, but opening up different views, and presenting them in an easy to understand way can be great for younger christians, who may not fully comprehend the bible."

Hi anonymous - it's great for discussion if you reveal you identity. I don't buy your argument... there simply is no replacement for the Bible. And no buts.

Younger Christians best approach to understanding the Bible is surely to read it more isn't it? Some of the youngest Christians (either in age or time as a believer) are some of the clearest I know on what it's about. Scripture have clarity, and taste sweeter than honey. Nooma looks cool but it's a McMeal when we could eat steak.


rob w. said...

i believe that this post and these comments prove that the noomas are doing exactly what they are intended to...spark conversation about our Lord, the Scriptures, our faith... if there were no noomas, this post wouldn't exist. people, such as i wouldn't randomly google the word "nooma" and stumble upon your post. it's sparking conversation. causing people to have questions. creating a hunger inside of us to find out more and get into the Word. maybe for some the first time.

i guide a small group at my church. i utilize noomas at the beginning of some of our gatherings to get conversations rolling. i can't tell you how many hours we've spent sifting through the Word to find out why rob said what he did. why do/don't we feel the same way? i haven't found that noomas replace the Bible, but create a greater desire for it.

were you able to look through the study guides that accompany each dvd? these are littered with Scripture references. real good stuff.

thanks to all for you comments. thanks to ed for the initial post.

rob w.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your post on Nooma. I think it struck a balanced perspective, and articulated some of my thoughts on the ones I've viewed so far.

My wife and I conducted the *Truth Project* study in our home last Fall, and I just purchased Nooma with the same intention for this Autumn. We'll have to make sure the study includes a bit more substance to fill it out.

Thank you and God bless,
Patrick T.
Cape Cod, MA. USA

greg said...

as someone who has seen the first ten and enjoyed them heartily, i will admit that rob bell does not always point the way to the bible or the cross, but more and more, people who are pointed to the cross or jesus just give up. the world has changed and having someone engage our minds, hearts and lives, only to then point us to god is very effective. i am always sceptical of both, things pointing to god, and things pointing away. he does a good job of being engaging. point to the bible all you want. that works for some people. but for others it does not. i have met believers who started worshipping the bible instead of god, so please pardon me my dis-association. is the bible the only way to know god? how about fellowship, discussion, and a personal relationship? oh, and this is why i'm glad i have a bible scholar in my circle. plus, i affirm rob bell's love of the bible. listen to his sermons. i don't follow rob bell. i don't follow the bible. i follow christ. he is the only way to god.

Sanelli said...

its funny how everyone reacts to a christian produced product with one of two ways, not enough jesus or to much jesus.

when i first saw the videos i thought, wow. i have some friends and family memebers who would so love to see this. and when i showed them some didn't care, others, one in particular, thought it was too liberal. the rest got a little more curious about who this is and actually resulted in a path to salvation.

if you want some meat and potatoe theology NOOMA is not for you. however like in some comments here, this is to get people talking. its so easy to go all gungho on people who don't use "Jesus" in their witness to people, never mind that the way we live our life everyday is by far the most effective witnessing tool. don't be so quick to react to a servant of God's attempt to spread the gosspil. even paul said that though he disagreed with some of the preachers out there, the fact that the gospel was being proclaimed was all that mattered

Scott said...

You said, "They didn't really say much. Ten minutes is a long time to take in saying 'God will protect you' (rain) or 'God knows best' (kickball) or 'we need to listen to God' (noise). Thats really all that came out of those three, and that comes to nearly thirty minutes of tape."

That argument seems shallow to me. I read the Bible a lot (the credentials you offer at the outset). Your argument could be applied to the Good Samaritan: "You know Jesus, you kind of took a long time to say, Love your neighbors - all of them." Or what about the Prodigal Son? Here again, Jesus takes all that time to drive home a laser-focused theme: "Our Father God's love is outside waiting for us to come back."

That is how I read parts of the Bible. If everything is to be reduced to single points, then why do we have the complete OT, and not just 10 commandments?

Wilco said...

I am a christian. i hardly ever read the bible anymore. maybe cause i'm lazy, maybe it's the fact that the bible and god kinda scare me sometimes. i want to hide, i don't want Him to see my sins and see me for what i am. now, this video just reminded me again of His Love. His forgiveness, his grace, his longing for me. i'm not saying you don't have a point. i'm just saying it encouraged me to seek God again, and read His word.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so this last week at our cell-group (which has been running for a few years) i decide to show a Nooma "Sunday" DVD. Boy, was i surprised! The interaction and the participation was so good. Folk were sharing about their experiences. Some even acknowledged that they've had a distance between themself and Jesus. It brought us straight back to the Bible. So, while as a stand-alone, Nooma cant be a replacement bible-study - but as an aid (much like a bible-study notes are), it can point us to the scriptures and create an opportunity to minister the Holy Spirit's healing power to the body.

Anonymous said...

My dearest Ed

I am afraid you have totally missed the point here. I am now not criticizing you or your Blog but please hear me out.

God IS almighty. He works through various and amazing ways. We are can not question him or allow our own human comments to hinder his work. If Rob Bell said anything wrong or not related to the Bible then I would agree.

The point of Nooma DVDs are not to educate you on Bible History or fact and theology. It is there to sometimes help us as humans to grasp things that we struggle with. Have you ever suddenly grasped something that you thought you understood already years ago? You know, those "oh my word I can't believe it took me so long to get that" moments.

Nooma is also excellent to help non Christians to, in a very acceptable way, quickly understand God's joyful message.

Oh and yeah, I love his glasses and his whole attitude. Just because he is a cool Christian, does it give you the right to criticize him? Let say it was just another not so interesting Christian lecture by an old stuffy preacher (now I am not saying they are bad, just hear me out) do you really think it would have been criticized by people like you, or loved by the younger generation like it is?

I am hereby asking you not to criticize / comment things that are not wrong. If you can do better, then go ahead. I praise the Lord for giving us people like Rob who uses his stylish attitude and creativity to help us interpret core messages in the Word. Oh and go to the website to read Rob’s Bio. He is more that an actor.

Of course, and you don't have to state this since all true Christians know this, Nooma will never take the place of the Bible.

Please, relax and enjoy Nooma for what it is.

Your sister in Christ

Anonymous said...

howdy ya'll. I live in Grand Rapids and attend Mars Hill (the church Rob Bell and others founded) so I've heard him preach many times. I've read both his books and have seen almost all of the noomas, and was almost in one of them as an extra. so you could say i'm pretty well versed in Rob Bell. and I can say with the utmost of conviction that this man LOVES God and he LOVES the bible and he LOVES the church and has such amazingly high hopes for it that i often am amazed.

I am not a biblical scholar, so i know I am not in a position to talk intelligently about the theological merits of his teachings, most specifically the Noomas he has produced. but i will say that every time I've heard him preach, and every time I've watched a nooma I've seen a part of God I had not before, or in a way that I had not before. this is not to say the Rob Bell or the noomas are perfect, they are not. but, in my opinion, the noomas are some of the best stabs at evangelism I've ever seen. see, these noomas are not bible studies, that is not how they are formated. they are concerned with the daily life that we as christians are asked to walk out. I don't think Rob Bell is trying to get people to have good theology, he's leaving that to others. I feel like his aim is for us to see how God interacts with the everyday. large God-centered concepts that translate into simple things about how today unfolds. Rob says in one of his books that there is the bible (God's word), and everything else that has ever been said about it is just commentary. he's simply adding to the commentary. I feel that if a person were to understand what the Noomas are trying to do, they could find little argument with them. as someone earlier commented, if the message of the Gospel is getting out, whether a little or a lot, God is smiling about it. if you feel that what Rob Bell has to say is unbiblical, then you have an argument, but if you don't feel that way, then i must ask you what's the point of the criticism? people who love God are finding bits and pieces of it in Noomas, why should any of us take anything from that?

I'll leave you with this. I am a christian, but I am jaded, mostly by christians. I find much of what the western church has become fairly depressing. I don't see much life in the typical church. I admit that this is harsh and probably not the most accurate assesment of the Western church, but this is what I see, and I am not alone. I don't have a single friend who doesn't feel the same way to varying degrees. so it is all well and good to say we should read the bible, but for those of us who are lost because we don't have the familiarity with it, for those of us who find it intimidating, or for those of us who can't accept all of it yet, what are we to do? we need something to show us God, and I've found this to be one thing that helps me see God. for those of us who are jaded toward the church, we need to find things that are God without them looking to much like church. you could say this is a weakness and i would agree with you, but even the weak need God, if not more so. so I would ask you all, to be more careful when you critique someone else's work, especially one that is teaching what Christ taught. you had better have a very good reason to do so, and just don't feel like you have one right now. I'm not saying this to say that you are wrong and that you need to do this or that; I'm saying this because so many people get caught up in the critique that God gets lost. I know that you have good intentions, you want God proclaimed throughout the nations, so do I. but let me put it this way. if I was a person who was more easily swayed, say a person new to my faith. and I saw a Nooma and saw a glimpse of God, then read this blog, where would I be left. your position is asking me, almost forcing me to take a side. so now this person either has to abandon this useful tool God has put into their life, or they must write you off as crazy. it's a loose loose situation.

PS. no matter what your position, you can't argue that the are some of the best Christian film out there. I know that that in it of its self doesn't mean much, but you can't deny that they are good films. and God created us to be artistic, so on that merit alone the production company deserves a pat on the back. God is cool, why do we as christians allow ourselves to put out things promoting God that are lame? that is unGodly.

FloydTheBarber said...

wow! well there's a lot of comments that i've missed!
some tihgs are worth fighting over aren't they? Thats why demoninations aren't a bad thing, thats why division can be (CAN be) glorious.
I'm 22, so i think that puts me easily inside the demographic that Rob is aiming for. Whats my passion in life? To know the God of the Bible better, and help him to be known better. I don't think Nooma does any of these things, in fact, my biggest problem with it is that it is a hinderance. Sure, thats not how Rob meant it, or how some people use it, but they have been used in that way. and thats not good.
If you want to use a video to spark conversation, then check out Piper's don't waste your life videos or Driscolls media casts on his website. They may not be as cool, but they're not going lull us into a false sense of security.

anyway, the end.

Anonymous said...

Your point was,"So, i guess thats my main point about Nooma. They're not all bad, they're just not very good." However, you wrote seven paragraphs to explian that point. And, I spent about ten minutes reading your post and many of the comments. I didn't see one Bible verse in your post. Was it "not very good" of me to spend my time reading this?

Anonymous said...


I couldn't disagree with you more. I am a pastor and have used the Nooma videos in numerous different situations in our church. And they have been an invaluable tool for helping people get to know the God of the Bible better and for giving people some very useful tools, metaphors, and language to tell others about the God of the Bible. They have proven to be one of the best conversation starters and aids to Bible Study i've ever used in teh church.

It's unfortunate (and telling) that you are unable to use such a tool as the Nooma videos to point folks towards Christ. But I have had such a different experience that I have to conclude your opinion says more about you than it does about the Nooma videos. I honestly cannot imagine how you could use this so as to have them be a "hindrance". That's almost laughable. Jesus used countless everyday experiences and metaphors (we call them parables) to point people towards the Kingdom of God. And you can't use a video full of the same kind of language to do that very thing? Well, fine, if not, don't use it. But I might go so far as to challenge you against "sinning against the Holy Spirit" to suggest that God is not working through these videos to draw people into relationship with Jesus. God is - I have seen it firsthand.

Scott Keeble
Champaign, IL

Anonymous said...

I do not know if anyone is still reading this blog or not but, I stumbled on to it recently. I think it is sad people think these videos are to replace the Bible. I think they are in fact, to help us better understand portions of the Bible. I agree in the video Kickball it is about God knows best for us but, I believe it also is a challenge issued to us as Christians. Are there things in our lives (like the ball on a string) that we see now? Things we think at this moment in time are very important? Things getting in way of our relationship with Jesus? He does know better. He does have better things in our lives planned for us. We need to give up what we are focused on now and simply rely on him. I think these vidoes are much deeper than what you are giving them credit for. I might suggest you view them again and Watch them not just look at them. By the way, two I would absolutely suggest are Dirt and Breathe. Hope this helps.


JB said...

Who are they for?
Do they replace exposition?
Why does he not focus on the Gospel?

Short answers:
They do.

1. Who is our King? Jesus.
2. What are we to be about building here on Earth? God's Kingdom.....right?
3. So what does the Kindgom look like? uh, umm, well....

It seems to me that many Christians, myself included, know the answers to questions 1 and 2 but 3 is a little fuzzy.

In John chapter 3 Jesus is having a conversatin with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. In that conversation Nicodemus mentions that anyone doing what Jesus is doing must be from God. In a rather strange response....Jesus says that one cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven unless he is born from above or born again.

So we know that the spirit must reveal to us in some way what the kingdom of Heaven looks like.
And perhaps when we begin to see clearly this Kingdom....we begin doing things that people would recognize as God activity.....bear with me for a second.

In another passage in Matthew chapter 13, Jesus says that some will discover this Kingdom and it will be like a man who happens to find a treasure hidden in a field and in his joy he goes and sells everything to buy the field. And another will actually be looking for this kingdom and will be like a man searching for a pearl of great price and when he finds it sells everything and buys the pearl.

Each of these videos, in my opinion, paints a little piece of what the Kingdom looks like. I picture a blank canvas on which Rob is painting a picture of the Kingdom with simple, clear, 11 minute strokes, if you will. Hoping that some may stumble onto a treasure hidden in a field or to help some who already know what they are looking for begin to see with newness this great pearl .

So, everyone, both believers, who are fuzzy on the what the kingdom looks like, and non-believers who don't even know there is such a thing as the Kingdom of God could benefit from these films.

Does this replace exposition? No, but it helps me to see the big picture of what we are building as Christians, nameley this upside down Kingdom. Perhaps it will help to open our eyes to see these kingdom ideas in exposition.

Why does he not focus on the Gospel?
And Jesus said: 'I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.'

Like I said earlier, Rob is painting a picture of the Kingdom of God, so he is actually not only focusing on the Gospel, but he is trying to bring the Full Gospel into focus!

Perhaps Rob actually sees some things in profound ways and is using all the gifts and creativity that God has blessed him with to communicate these things.

Jarod said...

Scott Keeble - great comment, I'm a youth Pastor from Australia and I totally agree with you.

Perth, Western Australia.

Anonymous said...

I think your criticism is out of what you truly feel about these videos, but you cannot make blanket statements about their impact. Though you may be able to summarize each video in one phrase, many people aren't like you. You could say that to many new Christians, non-Christians, or whoever, and you won't get very thought provoking responses. If you want to impact lives you have to reach people in a way that is on their level, not your own. So ten minutes to explain very important points of the bible doesn't seem that bad. Some people never understand these concepts, so why do you try to reduce them to such "simple" ideas.

Secondly, about your criticism of the way rob presents these idea is off...sorry. God obviously gave Rob the gift of artistic talent, and a character that is very genuine and personal. To not use those gifts to his fullest extent would be wrong. By using them in the creation of these videos, Rob is worshipping God, making it his spiritual act of worship, which God will use to further His kingdom. I appreciate your concerns with this form of outreach, but God invented imagination, creativity, and artistry...

Anonymous said...

dear friend -
i like how you are able to see the "cool things" about christianity and not be afraid to criticize them.
however, i must say that i really do enjoy the Nooma videos. as a pastor's kid - i grew up with the bible studies, the intense insight into the bible, attending every service, and knowing more about my religion and others than the common person.
i can understand why it might bother you that he never says "Jesus" and that they might be replacing the normal small group lesson.. but i would say if anyone uses them as a form of teaching, and that's it, they are just lazy.
i, however, can see them used as supplements to a sermon but i personally use them for my quite times.
and i don't just watch these, say "okay, i'm christianized enough for the day" and turn off my computer. instead i watch one, pray, read the bible, talk to some jesus, and remember just how much he loves me... and that's how i believe the Nooma videos can be used.
all i'm saying is, don't knock it until you've tried it. and don't be closeminded toward the ways that media can be used to reach out to the new generations.

Linda said...

Hi Ed,

Found your post because tonite we showed a Nooma film to our Youth Group and a few of us leaders after it was over felt exactly the way you did.

Like there was not much substance to what he was saying, even though on the surface there wasn't much to pick apart...but it's the little things like not speaking much about Jesus if at all, emphasizing the morality of living like Jesus (but not explaining that without Christ there's no possibility of being "in tune" with God) and I picked up some subtle nuances of "even other people who don't seem to know God but live out what Jesus did (you know -- "good people") can live in rythym with God" etc.

I totally agree that the danger here is that Christians fed a diet of the spiritual equivalent of empty-calories are never going to grow.

Paul didn't need to be the cool-guy.

"And I, brethren, when I came to you came not in excellency of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with human words (or slick video) of wisdom (or philosophical open-ended questions) but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

1 Cor 2:1-5

Paul didn't need to reach the philosophy loving Corinthians with philosophies - the message of the cross was enough. There are enough new age ideas out there about "connecting with God" that are pure deceit...and opening up for discussion among "unchurched" or very new believers about what we think God is like and how we can get connected to him doesn't protect them from cults and false religions.

Anonymous said...

wow! I know that this was your thoughts. So be it. But it made me want to cry because God is so much bigger and why should we tear other Christians down. The question should be what are you doing to love others. Check your heart because God is way bigger than you think if He want to use Nooma videos to glorify Him He can. So those who read these thoughts God is way bigger and if he want to use a video to stir our hearts ans lead us to Him. You Go God! In awe of Him, Kelly Koehlinger

charles said...

In the small group that I lead, a couple of previously unchurched (catholic) backgrounds gave their lives to Jesus. They have professed their trust in His work of salvation on their behalf. We have went through 15 of the nooma videos and dealt with scripture and life for the next two hours after the 10 minute nooma was over.

I have seen personally how these simple "TOOLS" given us can be used to create the mindset of open-ess to generations rather jaded by "religion".

Hey we must remember the very reformers of protestantism risked their lives to get the bible into the hands of a common person. The "establishment" at the time wanted no such thing to happen, some for fear of losing control, others seeing heresies and cults bloom from misunderstanding. Both happened. Yet more importantly people met Jesus Christ, personally. By no means do I compare or suggest this is what Mr. Bell is doing, however we see the evidence that is actual.

People are getting a hunger to know our Lord in a more intimate know who He is..And that is where sound biblical doctrine enters in.

I think the hardness of the heart of the unsaved can be weakened for a just enough time for us to get the floodgates of heaven open!

Pastor Laptop said...

Both sides bring interesting points. But let's get to the facts. When was the last time you did something creative to reach people for Christ? As you search for an answer, bless those who are making an effort to step outside of the sunday a.m. box. There is an entire generation waiting for relevant, creative teaching about a relevant and creative God. So my recommendation is that you blog less about who is right or wrong, and evangelize more. ..."If necessary, use words"... The world is waiting! God is Love.

tdrumz said...

We can not be held accountable for what people do, only what we ourselves do. I do not see anything on their site that says use this instead of the bible. As a Christian musician in a heavy metal band, I hear the same thing "how can I be Christian if I am playing that music?" Jesus went to where the poeple who need him and seek him were. He did not sit in his house and say ok here I am come here and I will help you. The use of media and technology is a great tool to reach those who have descided to turn from God and for those who are beaten down. My band watches NOOMA before we practice and it has been amazing, yes were read the bible and pray as well. As someone said before what are you doing? Why do we persacute those who are making an honest effort to do something new and challenge us? To the owner of this blog I have to say I think you are doing a great diservice by posting this. yes you can say I think that people are slipping into supplementing this for the bible (nothing beats the word of the Lord). But to make it sound like it is their intent is 100 percent off. I commend Rob he is doing it and THAT is what matters here. I have only doen 4 videos so far but not one of them leaves me thinking wow this would be better then reading God word. On the contrary it makes me hunger to dig in. One last note Jesus spoke in parables so that those he was teaching could have a better understanding of what he was saying he used imagry(sp) becuase it made his statements have life and provoked thought. BRAVO NOOMA YOU GET IT

tdrumz said...

I appologise for my poor spelling I did spell check and forgot to paste it o well the points is still there. God Bless

Dave said...

My wife and I have hosted a small group for the past 5 years. We are all in our late 40's or early 50's and mature Christians. Nooma has been a great tool to spur discussions. After we watch one the Bible's come out and we discusss what we have heard.
The wonderful thing is you dont have to agree with everything that is said.

Some of the other study's we have gone through have been interesting but were either historical in nature or presneted another Pastor's view. i.e. Rick Warren.

Nooma gets us to dig in and find answers to questions like "what is the difference between LORD Lord and lord in the bible?"

I believe it is a great tool but not a replacement for Bible Study.

Anonymous said...

God may, in his grace, use Rob Bell's voice to teach us, through his words and ideas.

However, it is odd that you'd value his voice over the voice of the sovereign God.

It seems some people have a wrong impression of what scripture is. The Bible isn't some dull book that needs updating and glamorising; the Bible is God's Word!

It is GOD'S word!

It's a blistering, white hot sword. It is the weapon that the Spirit uses to change us.

You'd take Rob Bell over that?

Anonymous said...

Sola Scriptura

" wasn't until the 300s that what we know as the sixty-six books of the Bible were actually agreed upon as the 'Bible'. This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that "Scripture alone" is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true. In reaction to abuses by the church, a group of believers during a time called the Reformation claimed that we only need the authority of the Bible. But the problem is that we got the Bible from the church voting on what the Bible even is. So when I affirm the Bible as God's word, in the same breath I have to affirm that when those people voted, God was somehow present, guiding them to do what they did. When people say that all we need is the Bible, it is simply not true. In affirming the Bible as inspired, I also have to affirm the Spirit who I believe was inspiring those people to choose those books." - Rob Bell "Velvet Elvis" pg 68

Anonymous said...

Hi, as most of the other respondants have said, you've missed the point. These work as great discussion starters, or effective sermon illustrations. They are not to replace scripture in Bible Studies or churches, and there's not enough of them to do this beyond 15 weeks anyway, even if someone wanted to.
Jesus told stories (sermon illustrations?) to convey a message.
I'm a long time Christian. I have heard how Jesus saved me from my sins on the cross. I will love Him eternally for that. But now, in this cluttered 21st century world, I want to get to know Him better, to understand Him more. The chief way he does this is through the Bible. the SECOND, and not to be maligned way he does this is through his CHURCH (the doctrine of the church). He uses people to administer His grace. These include your local small groups, church, writers of books and people like Rob Bell. Rob reminded me again how much God is present in my suffering (from "Rain"), something I can get from Psalm 23 as well, but which has often come most powerfully from other believers who have surrounded me with Gods words, administering His grace to me. I don't need them to rush back and point out their justification from the Bible, I just need reminding. It was 10 minutes of healing that my HomeGroup needed to hear as we suffered through massive tragedy in 2007.

PS I love the Bible and read it every day, with commentaries and various other books. It is my favourite "pastime". But I'm eternally greatful that God doesn't just leave me with only his Word and no one to help me gain greater insight and understanding, contextualisation and reminding.

Anonymous said...

One final thing:
Each DVD comes with a little booklet provides the citations and quotations from Scripture that are crucial to a particular film.

Perhaps if you'd bought the films with their entire package you would understand a) their context and b) the scripture basis for Bell's conclusions.
Rather than ripping them off Youtube...

F. A. Syndicroud said...

It seems to me that too many people are wanting the nooma videos to be more than they are designed to be. There's a reason why they're all 11 to 14 minutes in length. It's only a discussion starter. In the typical 60 minute class, these videos are not created to give the question, the background, and the Biblical answer in fulness.

They are well produced, thought-provoking, and they definitely lead one in the direction of faith in God and trust in His goodness. No, they don't delve deeply into doctrine, but if they did there would be many churches who would not use them because there are so many doctrinal differences. These videos hit the main theme, but leave room for a class leader/moderator to direct the discussion and Biblical study.

Perhaps some people want the whole package so we don't have to dig into those thoughts ourselves...we can just get the whole thing from a video. Kind of like TV; problem, conflict, resolution--all in 30 minutes or less.

Use them or don't use them, but don't expect an 11-14 minute video to contain the depth of God's wisdom on any topic.

Chris said...

Hmm, please go and watch 'Rain' again and listen - he mentions Jesus quite a bit in the middle and quotes him directly, so I feel you've been rather unfair there.

Yes, we want people to read their Bible's more of course we do. But aren't there many people in the Bible who communicated in crazy, creative ways to get people to listen to God's message. God is so passionate about communicating with His lost broken world (and His often lost, broken church) that He gets His messengers to do all sorts of things to try and get through to deaf sinful humans. Check out Ezekiel 4:1 and following as an example - anyone fancy being Ezekiel?

The people Ezekiel was trying to get through to weren't reading the Scriptures, but they still needed to here the message and God gave them a chance.

If you know Christians who are using Nooma videos and neglecting the Scriptures, talk with them. Please don't criticise someone producing something of high quality and effective at reaching people who wouldn't normally pick up a Bible at all.

rjwalker said...

Fred Rogers, of "Mr Roger's Neighborhood," Was a Presbyterian minister and that show was his ministry.

I don't believe he used any "religious words" or the name Jesus, and yet I believe he communicated the Christian message far better than most.

St Francis of Assisi supposedly said: preach the Gospel, if necessary, use words.

Christ wasn't about doctrine or using the "official" positions of his time.

thebluefish said...

Syndicroud and others...

The packaging etc might contain more stuff, and maybe they're being used for more than they're meant to be. Problem is they're being used for that... they are being used to replace opening the Bible. That's not Bell's fault but it is reality.

As a thought provoker before serious study that's fine, and as Don Carson observes if they're used in a place as Biblically literate as Grand Rapids, that's ok. Problem is they're being used instead of the Bible in biblically illiterate Britain. Again, hardly Bell's fault but nonetheless an issue for the church here.

That said, it does seem that the content is at best confusing, by what it omits. How much can we or should we want to speak of divine love without the cross, for example?

Anonymous said...

Luke 9:50 "Do not stop him, Jesus said, for whoever is not against you is for you"

Rob Bell is spreading the love of Jesus Christ. Let us all be joyful about that.