Rob Bell's successor resigns: 'Being a pastor is not really who I am'

Mars HillRob Bell's successor Kent Dobson announced his resignation from Mars Hill church.

Rob Bell's successor at Mars Hill church in Grandeville, Michigan, has announced that he is to step down from ministry there.

Kent Dobson took over the church from Bell when he left in 2012 and began exploring other areas of ministry, including working with Oprah Winfrey.

Dobson told his congregation that there was no "secret reason" for his departure but that "being a pastor at a church is not really who I am".

"I have always been and I'm still drawn to the very edges of religion and faith and God," Dobson said. "I've said a few times that I don't even know if we know what we mean by God any more. That's the edges of faith. That's the thing that pulls me. I'm not really drawn to the center. I'm not drawn to the orthodox or the mainstream or the status quo.

"And I think all churches have to have a centre. It helps them define who they are, but I'm always wandering out to the edge and beyond."

Dobson's brother is gay, but he denied that he was leaving Mars Hill because it was not progressive enough on issues of sexuality and the Church.

"It is true that my views are progressive, but I've never felt that Mars Hill needed to think like me," he said. "I never felt like Mars Hill, like other kinds of churches, that I needed to come down the mountain like Moses and draw a line in the sand and say everybody's got to be like me or they can hit the road."

Rob Bell founded Mars Hill in 1999 and it became one of America's fastest-growing congregations, with an emphasis on being culturally relevant to younger people.

Bell left the year after a furore broke out over his views on hell, but he has denied being forced out by the reaction of the congregation.