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The Day I Tried to Preach Like Rob Bell

How a goat got into my sermon

It all began at the Willow Creek Conference on Preaching. Rob Bell gave a soul-stirring message on Leviticus 16. The talk described the Day of Atonement, the scapegoat, and the work of the high priest. Rob brought out a priest and goat, and both were live. He dramatized Jesus' ministry as the ultimate scapegoat and as our great High Priest who sat down when the work was done. The big idea was, "The goat has left the building." The sermon ended with the priest slowly walking to a chair and sitting, after which the audience erupted into cheers, high fives, applause, and a little celebratory dancing. Never before had I desired to borrow from another speaker, but on that day I thought, I want to preach that sermon.

In January, I decided it would make a great Easter message. I mentioned it to the staff and they seemed supportive. Then I asked a group of our leaders if I could spend money on a goat. They feigned nonchalance and told me to get whatever I wanted.

In February, ...

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