This past week I had the privelege of attending the Exponential church planting conference with my wife, Megan, down in Orlando. During the first main session, Francis Chan apparently made some comments about Rob Bell that were pointed and of a personal nature. (Unfortunately, I wasn't there to hear it since I had unknowingly led my wife to slaughter that morning as we sat through high pressure sales pitch for a time share. After saying "no" no fewer than 12 times to 4 reps over the course of 3+ hours, we both agreed it was not nearly worth the $100 off universal studios tickets. You live, your learn.)
But by the time Megan and I made it to the conference site, the place was already buzzing about Francis' talk. He had struck a chord. By mid afternoon, Francis Chan was a trending topic on Twitter. But those who only sat through the main session or followed the twitter frenzy missed the best part: it wasn't Francis' comment, it was his response to making it. Immediately afterwards, I attended a breakout session with Francis that was supposed to be about prayer and leadership. Instead, a visibly distrought Francis Chan sat down and told us that he didn't have it in him to get up and give another message. What followed was a humble and painful apology for his "flippant comment" he had made about Rob Bell. He went on to explain that although he passoinately disagreed with Rob on some things, and although Rob knows that and the two have been corresponding and will be getting together soon, it was not fair of him to make a comment like that.
I have been a fan of Francis Chan's for a while. I continue to learn from him as a man, as a Christian, and as a pastor. I can certainly say the same thing about Rob Bell. And so I can't tell you how encouraged I was to finally see a Christian, and an influential Christian leader no less, apolgoize for letting his emotions get the best of him and making unfair, personal attacking comments about Rob. Listen, it is okay to judge a man's conclusions. In fact, it is wise to do so. But it is not okay to judge a man's motives for reaching those conclusions. That is God's job. Francis Chan modeled humility and repentance by owning his mistake and asking for forgiveness.
He went first. Is it your turn?