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Rob Bell: The Endless Evolving and Becoming, Inviting You to Something New




SHOW#: CM1048






ROB BELL: Coach, coach Mike.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Rob Bell. Well, thanks for doing this.


ROB BELL: This is fantastic. Where are you today?


COACH MIKE BAYER: I'm in Los Angeles. I live in West Hollywood. How about you?


ROB BELL: West Hollywood.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, really?


ROB BELL: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.




ROB BELL: You know-


COACH MIKE BAYER: I live right, I live right behind the Trader Joe's.


ROB BELL: The one on Santa Monica and La Cienega?




ROB BELL: Dude, I am there twice a week without fail?


COACH MIKE BAYER: You haven't gone over to Sprout's yet? You're sticking with-


ROB BELL: I do. I often do both. I have-


COACH MIKE BAYER: You been- have you been to Raw Berry yet?


ROB BELL: No, what's that?


COACH MIKE BAYER: Ok, that's next to Sprout's. They have the best Acai bowls anywhere on the planet.


ROB BELL: Oh, I saw that.


COACH MIKE BAYER: It's so good.


ROB BELL: It's great?






COACH MIKE BAYER: Maybe we'll, maybe we'll listen, maybe either we'll hit it off and we'll get an acai together or we'll see each other walking by and we'll both pretend like we're busy on the phone.


ROB BELL: Hey dude, right. We live, I live ahh, eight houses from Fred Siegel.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Oh, yeah, we're neighbors.


ROB BELL: Like behind the Improv.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're super close. Alright, let’s get going.


ROB BELL: I love it.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Let me do a little intro for you, huh? All right. All right, welcome back to "Always Evolving". You know, when I started this podcast, it was pretty- I got some big heavy hitters on the podcast, like Dr. Phil kind of did me a favor and jumped on and Vivica Fox and Jessica Simpson. And then it was like, I was starting to put all these feelers out and reach out and lately I've been getting a lot of guests that I've really enjoyed speaking with. And the guest today is someone that I'm very interested in. His name is Rob Bell. And uh, Rob is an author, a speaker. I don't know why in his bio says author, speaker, former pastor. Which is pretty funny that those are the three descriptions.


ROB BELL: Who said that?


ROB BELL: Right? Right.


COACH MIKE BAYER: But ah, you're, you're really a guy who has an interesting outlook on spirituality, very successful, ah, have a big following of people that really like your message and what you have to say. And we just found out right before this that we're neighbors, so umm.




COACH MIKE BAYER: But ah, Rob, for our listeners, tell us about you.


ROB BELL: Well, where should I start? OK, so here's what happened. Here's the minute version. I was in a band in college. The band broke up because everybody had to get jobs. And somewhere in there. I had always been fascinated with the big questions of life. What are we doing here? What kind of universe is this? How, how do you forgive people who have wronged you. Like all the big questions, the intimate questions about how you can figure out what you're here to do? I had always found that really, really interesting. And somehow in the terror of what am I going to do with my life, I was like I'll go study the big questions. In the world I came from my parents had taken us to church growing up. I was like, oh, I'll go to seminary. There's a Master of Divinity degree. Which was like, OK. And then I went and did that. And I got a job after that in a church because I was like, apparently that's what you do.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And let me ask you just, real quick on that point. Were you in a band before or after you went back to study?


ROB BELL: Um, the whole time. There was always-




ROB BELL: But the main band in college and that band broke up at the end of my senior year and I was like, everybody supposed to go get jobs. I have no idea what to do with my life. It was just existential. I had no plan B, but I did know that- why do people act the way they do? Is this thing headed somewhere? Is it getting better? Is it getting worse? All of the questions that people have been wrestling with for thousands of years. To me, it was always like, that's the juice, that's the mojo, that's the juje of life. And so, I went to seminary and studied ancient texts and studied the Bible in detail and learned Greek and learned Hebrew and, and how have people answered some of these big questions. And then I got a job in a church which was funerals and weddings and sermons. And then I was like, there's got to be some better way to talk about this. So, in my late twenties, I started a church. And it was like a giant art experiment. It was like every idea you have with your friends late at night when you're like, what if you there was no offering, so there was no weirdness with religion and money. What if we gave the money people did give away to the poor like all these ideas?


COACH MIKE BAYER: Let me ask you, did you have the question: why don't they give the communion and make it some really tasty treat. Why they gotta make this-


ROB BELL: Like some solid, watered down nonsense. And so literally, we should write all our own songs, we should meet like in an old warehouse, so the building isn't to distract- all the ideas that you're like. We tried them and it, like, thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of people came, and by the time I'm 30, there's ten thousand people. It's the fastest growing church in American history. And suddenly I was always the guy sticking it to the man, not the man. Suddenly there's millions of dollars of budget. There's- I remember at one point there were 80 staff members. It became, it was awesome, but it was like, as you can imagine, a giant thing, and then I would, I had to do the sermon three times on Sunday to, and imagine people with like those orange parking vests and the things like airplanes, directing people were to- like that's what it was.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Where was this church?


ROB BELL: In Michigan. Grand Rapids, Michigan. So, it was a scene. It was a spectacle. And I could literally, we could pick a cause microfinance bank in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV AIDS crisis in this country and people would like, we could, like a million dollars we could give to causes like overnight. I mean, it was, it was an extraordinary thing to be a part of and then I kept going. I just, like you got to keep exploring. You got to keep evolving. And then Oprah gave me my own TV show. I did that for like an episode and then it got canceled. And then I do shows here at Largo in West Hollywood, and I tour, and I write books and I do, I rent out the improv and do events for artists and activists and CEOs, and I couldn't be having more fun. So, there you go. There's the two-minute version.


COACH MIKE BAYER: That's, that's I got some questions about that version.


ROB BELL: Good, good.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Because I'm always, I'm always super interested, and not to take you back in time too much-


ROB BELL: No, let's do it.


COACH MIKE BAYER: I think, like so many people are searching, right?




COACH MIKE BAYER: For meaning. What is the point? Why does it matter? What matters? Why should I care about that a year ago and today I'm like, who cares?


ROB BELL: Yes. Yeah.


COACH MIKE BAYER: All of a sudden, I'm giving advice as if it's irrelevant. So, you know, it's really interesting that you chose not only to pursue a deeper meaning, but also you found yourself leading. Right.




COACH MIKE BAYER: And at what point did you realize that you wanted to lead?


ROB BELL: Um, I remember. The- when I discovered- the thing about the band is as I would write these songs and then sing them and then people would sing them back, and that was like, part of that was maiming what was happening inside of me. You know what I mean? Like, am I the only one who's having these thoughts? I mean, if I could summarize songwriting, am I the only one feeling this? And then you say it, sing it and you find out you're not the only one. So, there was like a super basic thing that happened then. But then when I started, when I discovered the sermon as an art form, not as like shame or guilt or judgment or trying to convert people, but the sermon as like a big generous gift, like guerilla theatre meets performance art, meets a recovery meeting, you know what I'm saying?




ROB BELL: Like, the sermon as truth-telling with love. And that felt so natural. Like here's some things I've learned. Notice this ancient poem. Notice what this group of people understood about. Notice this ritual that these people like, almost like pointing to history, to science, to art, to sports, to psychology. Look at this wondrous experience we're having. Look at all the different ways that people have interpreted it. Isn't this amazing? It was almost like the wonder and awe business.




ROB BELL: Like, look at this thing.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And how long did you live in the wonder? I know you still are in it today, but I imagine did it, you get to Oz and then it suddenly was like, that's not the right thing to say, Rob.


ROB BELL: Well, that's that was actually, to be honest with you, like that was the tension is, when you get into religion on a big scale, institutions bend towards self-preservation.




ROB BELL: And so, what's true at an individual level is always true at the political and the communal level. And institutions bend towards their self-preservation. Somewhere, somebody has to make sure enough money is coming in for the lights to stay on. And so, what can easily happen is that evolving, searching, discovering; let's go here. Well, yeah, but we've got the structure built over here. Um, and so that's why in every tradition, the mystics, the enlightened one, the monk, the sage, the guru, they're generally not concerned about how many Instagram followers they have.


COACH MIKE BAYER: I know, you know-


ROB BELL: Are you with me on this?


COACH MIKE BAYER: I'm with you. I, I just met with a client, right. Last week. Big famous person that I came in and I help. And he talked about a specific church that he spent a lot of time and energy in. And all of a sudden, he said after a period of time, he realized he was just a stepping stone for the next celebrity and the next exposure and the next donation. And it actually left him with a really bad taste in his mouth because he was like, why does this person that's a pastor, care so much...


ROB BELL: Yeah. Yeah, I call it.


COACH MIKE BAYER: What do you call it?


ROB BELL: I call it empire building. Ever so subtly, what's really going on is, we're building a thing here and can you help us build it or not? And ever so subtly, what's so easy is every interaction can be, does this help me build the thing? Does this sure the thing up? Does it make it more stable and secure or not? Um, and that impulse is really, really like you smelled it, right? It's like subtle. It's like just below the surface, like one millimeter below the surface. And you just want to throw up in your mouth because you're like, it's about helping people, it's about serving.




ROB BELL: And, it has to be a gift freely given if there's anything attached to it. Then it sours quickly. Yeah. And so, I lived through all that stuff.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And I imagine as you were growing as uh, uh a spiritual leader-




COACH MIKE BAYER: Um, that ah, people would suddenly ah, maybe treat you differently or-


ROB BELL: Oh my god.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Think that you’re a lot of solutions to a lot of different things. How do pastors stay within their scope of practice?


ROB BELL: Oh, you can't believe, OK, here's how it would work. There was at one, at the peak, I would do the sermon three times in a row so the service would end, and people would, the three and a half thousand people would be leaving as another three and a half thousand people were coming in and taking their seats. Now, I would finish the service. I would finish the sermon and I would walk; I would stand down in front of the stage and a line would form and imagine anybody in the line, anybody can get in the line and anybody can ask you anything. I just found out I have stage four lymphoma. What do you have to say to me? Next person? Um, this woman, I just found out she's pregnant. I'm like, I don't know if I should tell her husband that I'm the guy, like, next question. I just lost my job. We have no money. Our kids are hungry. These are our kids. Like, it was like and I would just, that line and the line would still be growing, and the next service would start. So, I had, yeah. You, you have to do I had to do such internal work about my limits, ego. You're not the savior. How do you do what you can to help people, but you also can't help everybody? Do you know what I mean?




ROB BELL: It was, it was both thrilling and intoxicating and oh, my God, look at what I get to be a part of and ruthlessly humbling all at the same time, with all the knobs turning up.




ROB BELL: Friends of mine, like college friends, college friends would visit. They'd come on a Sunday and be like, what the- dude, what is this? They would literally just be like how, what is going on here? How are you doing this? What is happening here?


COACH MIKE BAYER: Did you get to incorporate, I imagine, some of the arts in the music that you're really passionate about at the time, I imagine was some pretty cool shows?


ROB BELL: Oh, yeah. Oh, there was, oh, my word, or we would just say to everybody. Um, we're taking everything off the walls; bring art you've created, and we're just going to do like a massive art show with like a thousand pieces of- oh yeah, the creativity, the, oh, yeah it was, it was insane.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And what did you, so, so it got enormous and then what happened, like?


ROB BELL: Um, well, at one level. What happened is I just kept exploring. So, so here's an example. I did a whole series called "God is Green". Any coherent spiritual vision of life begins with human beings in proper relationship with the soil. And throughout history, we know if humans don't live on the earth in a sustainable way, everything collapses eventually. Economics, your political structures, health, nutrition, so um, so, so for a lot of people in west Michigan at that time. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. What we're talking about the Earth now? Yes. Or then um, the American, American starting wars around the world. Hold on a second. That's like trillions of dollars that's going to haunt us for generations. Shouldn't the first impulse be no war? Like isn't that like the most basic? Why do we stockpile nuclear weapons that can blow up the world? So, I just kept like evolving, searching, just exploring. When we talk spiritual, we're talking how is the world arranged? So, if you have a widening gap between rich and poor, everybody is going to suffer at some point. So, you can see what happened is the institution is like, God, what's he going to talk about next?




ROB BELL: Where is this going? Um, I don't know. That's the fun of it.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Right. So, because I imagine they were wanting you to just keep leading sermons on Sundays because they were so popular, but at a certain point you had to have been like sermoned out.


ROB BELL: Well, yeah, and then what happened, like I started studying quantum physics, I started doing all this stuff on quantum physics and how matter itself, the chair, you're sitting in the microphone, you're in bones, flesh, blood is actually energy and relationship. Um, and I remember a friend of mine was in a band and I convinced his booking agent to book me in punk clubs around the country for like an underground speaking tour. So, I went out and did twenty five cities in twenty eight days talking about spirituality and quantum physics and poetry. And so, you can see what happened is I kept, how far can this go, like where else can this work? Because I noticed that when I did my work in spaces that weren't labeled religious or spiritual, that's when it really got fun because everybody wants to talk about this stuff.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yes, it everyone does.


ROB BELL: So, when you're a, when you're a Christian megachurch pastor, people have a whole world of assumptions and lots of people are going to be like, I'm not going to that, but the moment you're out in a club doing an hour show. Now, it was like, oh, that's home. That's where I'm supposed to be.




ROB BELL: So, it's almost like it became about the architecture in the space of it. I want to talk to everybody everywhere about what it means to be human. And I'm rooted in a tradition, so I have some texts and traditions that have interesting things to say about this. But it's about being human. It's not about getting you into my religion. See what I mean? See how that shift- And so then it just became following that.


COACH MIKE BAYER: So, would you say that your religion is no religion?


ROB BELL: I'm saying any good religion subverts itself at some point. Any good religion moves beyond itself at some point.




ROB BELL: It's like ah, well, there's this great line: Jesus says, to love your enemy. Well, if you love your enemy, that dissolves the category of you an enemy.




ROB BELL: So, if you actually take it seriously, you move beyond the categories that you started with. There's an inherent evolution and trajectory built into it.




ROB BELL: So that's what kept happening, is I kept finding myself in all these unexpected places with people going, yeah, talk about that. That's really that's helpful. And so, I just kept following it. And here we are now, your neighbor in West Hollywood.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, exactly. Well, that, I mean, it's, I love that you, you know, so much of what I am passionate about is mixing personal development with art. So...




COACH MIKE BAYER: You know, I like the hybrid everything, because art to me is just authentic, being in the moment when we're creating, we're not, it's even taking pain and creating or-


ROB BELL: Absolutely.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Happiness. Whatever we create, when we're in action and we're creating, it's just like becomes a little more magical.


ROB BELL: Absolutely.




ROB BELL: Couldn't agree more.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And so, what are you currently creating?


ROB BELL: Oh, here's here's, right before covid, I started this new thing, you would love this. Thirty-five people at the Improv. So, I rented that lab, the front room at the Improv. Thirty-five people from around the world. And for two days and the first day, the first person walks up and sits, knee to knee with me and they tell me what they're working on and how they're stuck.




ROB BELL: And then I just, tell me more about that. Maybe they do like a minute summary and then I say, tell me more about that. Now, when you said that, it's like your shoulders, like what's in, sag. Like what's that, what's that about? Why did you name it that way? And then you watch the person get unstuck and then the next person comes up and sits down. And they, and it's artists, activists, CEOs, inventors. There's no rhyme or reason to who's there.




ROB BELL: And it becomes like- because everybody's learning. Everybody's seeing themselves, in the person, in the chair.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, like you've seen Marina Abramovic when she did this and people sat with her, right?


ROB BELL: Oh, oh yes. Unbelievable. Unbelievable.

COACH MIKE BAYER: Well, at least we're talking now, you know, and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) not just look in somebody's eyes, right? Uh, I love that. You know I was throwing these dinner parties called "the universe decides" where I would have this wheel, and everyone put in their current struggle into the wheel. And under every plate we had masks and we would play out everyone's roles. And I had this vision of like, oh, I would love for this to be a show in Vegas where you never know...




COACH MIKE BAYER: Walking into a room...


ROB BELL: Right.


COACH MIKE BAYER: If you're going to be called on. It's all spontaneous. It all unfolds and it's very theatrical and um, it's kind of still in my heart of what I want to get into, because I just think it's, there's no reason that like theatre or performance like you're describing, which you're given a real practical reason where you don't have music playing. People walk in my house, they're like, what the fuck is wrong with you, Mike? I'm like, no, the universe is deciding tonight. The universe is deciding who we call upon.


ROB BELL: I love it. When you think about polarization and particularly political polarization. Polarization is the inability to see yourself and someone else.




ROB BELL: So, you're watching them and there's nothing about anything they're doing or saying that you can see yourself even remotely. As opposed to, oh, yeah, when I'm resentful, I don't make the best choices. When I feel like I'm missing something and like the system is against me, I do get angry. Like that's, and so what's really interesting to me is creating spaces where people can watch somebody else. It's almost like building musculature. You're getting better at better at finding yourself. If I look far enough inside of me, I find you. If I look far enough inside of you, I find me. It's almost like a musculature that our culture is lacking.


COACH MIKE BAYER: You know, you still could do this, and we could get a giant um, like what they have at Starbucks.


ROB BELL: Yes, I've been doing it on Zoom, and weirdly enough, I sit in this chair and um, in my front yard and do it on Zoom and it never ceases to be riveting to me. Like what people are making, um and then all the interesting, you won't believe how many people, they're stuck on whatever it is they're doing, because somebody along the way, an editor, a producer, an authority figure, an expert, somebody they consider legitimate, I'm air quoting, told them, uh no, your book needs to be seventy thousand words. No, your business needs to reach these benchmarks and I literally just have to like reach in the screen and it's like, OK, I'm taking that person off your shoulder because the only interesting question is how do you do it.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yup. No, you're so right.


ROB BELL: That person is cluttering your psychic space like crazy. You've got all this stuff in your head. Thank them and then get rid of that voice because-


COACH MIKE BAYER: I love it. No, you're so right. I love it because, you know, I find that in the, even in the coaching world, because I work with arts and entertainment for many years, it's not just, just two years ago is when I started doing television. And-




COACH MIKE BAYER: All of this, is I have the most non-traditional ways of helping people. Like if I had a girl who was going on set and she was really uncomfortable and we would be, she would be talking about how she was having body dysmorphia and she was having a bad day, all of a sudden when I would walk her down the hallway to go on, I'd be in a thong and I'd be walking down the hallway. And just in that moment, it shifts the mood and I would go throw clothes on and she would high five me and we'd move on. But like, I found that there's this idea of, like, how you should do it and how...




COACH MIKE BAYER: You know, like when the reality- life is so infinite...




COACH MIKE BAYER: And, and we're all so. We all have a light inside of us that needs to be like how we create, how we shine, and what you're describing, which I love, is like helping people realize that that voice that they're listening to, I call it the "should police" or the...


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yes, we don't “should” on ourselves. There will be no “shoulding” on ourselves here. Were you born a coach?


COACH MIKE BAYER: Well, no. Well, I was born to play basketball. Then I got- then I did drugs; I got addicted to meth. Ah, and then I went to treatment. I became a counselor, interventionist and it transitioned quite a bit. I, I ah, I love and really like even why I'm doing what I do now is I really want to do international work. I've been to Iraq a few times helping Yazidi women. I went alone. Just 'cause I just which is the whole trip, because culturally you can't get- in that culture the babies can scream and they're loud. And I'm sitting there, they're all speaking different languages, and I had this vision of what I'm going to do. But um, I just love creating new ways of helping people either feel better about themselves or just have new ways of looking at things. So.


ROB BELL: And did you did you come from a particular like, therapeutic tradition or a helping or a science, or was it your recovery and your own experience that sort of shaped how you do it?


COACH MIKE BAYER: No. Yeah, so I went to school for alcohol and drug abuse counseling that it's like you get your bachelors in Minnesota and so trained as a clinician counselor, then trained as an interventionist. And then I found myself suddenly ah, working with entertainers and first to start off doing crises. Um, and then all of a sudden it became helping people live in their art.




COACH MIKE BAYER: And how to be authentic and how to let go of all the barriers that are keeping them from, from anything, like anything in their life. And, you know, I've been trained in psychodrama and I have had a ton of experience in different art forms. And it's always been interesting to me- I just love art, period, so whatever someone can create, I'm always...




COACH MIKE BAYER: Like, it makes you smile. I love seeing it. They love creating. So, um, you know, it's, it's I kind of bounce back and forth, though, like, all of a sudden, I can get into, um like, I own a treatment center in West Hollywood. So, I've owned a center for the past 14 years called "Cast Centers". My next book is all about decision making. It comes out in December and I'll send you a "One Decision" box. It's like a box of all the decisions and I'm going to send you a box since you're a neighbor. But, um, yeah.


ROB BELL: So, what- so, is it a given day for you, like is it scheduled appointments or is it like you get a call and so-and-so is going down in flames and you need to go to the house right away and you know, emergency kind of stuff?


COACH MIKE BAYER: Well, it was that. It was that for many years now, I have other people handle it. I'm pretty, ah, I'm not- I don't have the patience I once had. Um.


ROB BELL: Oh, really?




ROB BELL: Patience to sit and wait for somebody to have the lights come on? What is it? What's the patience?


COACH MIKE BAYER: In that work and in that world, yeah, I don't have the patience. I don't have the patience of dealing with managers and agents and the whole thing, like I, I, I would rather like I create a script about coaches and...




COACH MIKE BAYER: You know, and, and ah, yeah, I'll get phone calls and we have a great clinical team of psychologists and coaches, but I've kind of transitioned more into not being- ah, I spent- kind of similar to you probably in churches for me, I spent years traveling the world with entertainers, so after a while I was kind of like, what's next? Once I feel like a master, something.


ROB BELL: Oh, my goodness. Onto the next one.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, like I...




COACH MIKE BAYER: It doesn't even matter what the money is, it's kind of just like, what's next? What, this life's short, you know.




ROB BELL: Oh, the moment I know I can do it, I'm like, OK, next.




ROB BELL: Give me give me the thing. I always go in the direction of the thing where I'm like, I don't know if I could pull that off. And if it bombs, it'll really bomb, spectacular. Excellent. Let's go in that direction.




ROB BELL: That's the only thing worth doing.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And you're, so you're, when you talk about these sessions that you're doing over Zoom, do you charge for those, or do they (UNINTELLIGIBLE)... 


ROB BELL: Yeah. Yeah, and I do it in groups of three and I say at the beginning, the really interesting thing is not just watching you getting unstuck and, on your way,, and figuring out your next step, but it's you watching the other two and almost like building the musculature, like you're going to- watching them, because down the road it's you getting the ability to see how the creative process works.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And how does someone get in these triplet groups?


ROB BELL: Just at my site. It's just at my site.


COACH MIKE BAYER: They can go to your site?


ROB BELL: Yeah, yeah.




ROB BELL: And I like- like you. I don't know anything ahead of time. I don't know who it is. Where they are in the world. A heart surgeon, an art teacher in South Africa, a motivational speaker in Qatar. And a mom who has a podcast in Ohio. Give me the most random assortment of humanity, because that's what's going to have like, the, the interesting magic to it.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And how long are these sessions?


ROB BELL: Oh, ninety minutes...


COACH MIKE BAYER: Ninety minutes.




COACH MIKE BAYER: Just I mean, you don't have to discuss these on here, but it's helpful, like, how much are these?


ROB BELL: Oh, like, I think somebody pays three hundred bucks.




ROB BELL: Yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Guys if you're listening to this...


ROB BELL: See my roots, my roots have such a punk rock, do it yourself, lean and mean. Do something and hopefully like as good as possible, but then, you know, once you're a pastor, it's for everybody, so... You don't, I mean, when people are like, you should do corporate, like you could be...


COACH MIKE BAYER: I want to come; I want to come to one of your groups. I'll pay 300 bucks to be in one of these groups.


ROB BELL: Ok, good. Nah, you'll just, you'll be on the, you'll be on the friend rate, which is just, you know, the bro rate.


COACH MIKE BAYER: No, I'd like to pay. I'd like to pay. Don't, don't not let me pay. Um, this is really cool though. For three hundred bucks, people can be a part of a spontaneous group to work on themselves and, and no pastors- people who are ex-pastors I'm friends with, a buddy of mine is Hank Fortner. I don't know if...


ROB BELL: You're friends with Hank?


COACH MIKE BAYER: I got Hank out of what he was in.


ROB BELL: I thought I did. I thought that was what, I thought...


COACH MIKE BAYER: Then we double teamed it.


ROB BELL: Oh, my word. Oh, my word.


COACH MIKE BAYER: He's in the entertainment now. Is he not in entertainment?


ROB BELL: Yeah, Hank and I- I walked with him through that whole deal.




ROB BELL: You were the other guy walking with him.


COACH MIKE BAYER: I was the other guy.


ROB BELL: Ladies and gentlemen, listening to whatever this is podcast, we're now discovering- oh, that's my, that's my man right there.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Hold on, I'm going to put Hank on a speaker right now and see if he picks up.


ROB BELL: Oh, my word. Tell him that you and I are recording this thing together; we just met and somehow it took us thirty-two minutes to find the Hank connection.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Hold on, let's see if I can get on speakerphone. Hank was a pastor. Also similar to us with like, what's next? What can I get into?




COACH MIKE BAYER: He's now the General Manager over at Roc Nation.


ROB BELL: Yeah. He- they like, put him in charge of a lot of stuff really fast.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Let's see if he picks up.


ROB BELL: If you text him and tell him-


COACH MIKE BAYER: I will text him right now. And he's- I'm going to text him right- Did he ever go to these groups?


ROB BELL: He's been to my shows at Largo. He's been to a bunch, but I don't know if he's been to one of those. He's been to a bunch of stuff that I've done over the like tours and stuff. Yeah, we go way back.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, he's so-


ROB BELL: Oh, my word.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Hank's, wonderful. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I have an empowerment group every Tuesday if you ever want to do that. It's bad ass. We got a great, about, got a big group of people that show up every Tuesday. We have a different topic. It's an hour long at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. I'd love for you to speak at one of them or participate, super spontaneous.


ROB BELL: I love it. I love it.


COACH MIKE BAYER: If you're down. Hank says, "On a call". He's so busy now.


ROB BELL: Well, so are we.


ROB BELL: Tell him you and I are recording. Just watch him get-


COACH MIKE BAYER: By the way he's on a phone call with someone going, like, do we have enough- can we get another twenty dollars for the hair budget? 


ROB BELL: Oh, no, I think it's, could we get another 20 thousand for the jet?


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, yeah, you're right, you're right, you're right.


ROB BELL: I think he graduated up from the 20 dollar hair budget.


COACH MIKE BAYER: He sure did. I love Hank. It's so good you know Hank.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Actually, one of his stories is inspired in my first book.


ROB BELL: Really?


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, the book "Best Self". Ah, his story is kind of in there.


ROB BELL: That's awesome.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Um, and we talk about this character handcuff and we can give him a different name, but um... so what is, what is your personal life look like, ah in West Hollywood?


ROB BELL: My wife, Kristen, and I have been married for twenty-six years. And-


COACH MIKE BAYER: Twenty-six, wow.


ROB BELL: She's ah- it's been unbelievable. Like so she and I have had this thing going, when we got married, we had this sense that the whole thing was an adventure and here was this person that we got to go on it with. So that's been like at the heart the whole time. Was like, let's just follow it where it leads. So, like staying in the same place, stability, all of that sort of stuff was never the goal. It was always, let's follow this, see where it takes us. Three kids. Trace just graduated from UCLA.




ROB BELL: And he and I are starting to work together. So, we're about to release our first project together. Teaching together. Yeah.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Oh, this is Hank. Hold on, this is Hank.


ROB BELL: Oh, yeah.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Let's see who helped Hank. Let's just find this- great for the ego.


ROB BELL: Oh, my goodness.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Alright, Hank. Hey, you're on (ECHOING). Oh, am I echoing? You're on my podcast, I'm with Rob Bell.


HANK: Mike B.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, you're on my podcast with Rob Bell.


HANK: Oh, I am?


COACH MIKE BAYER: We both thought that we tremendously helped you in this new career shift you had.


HANK: You absolutely both tremendously helped me. That's, that's wild times. When you, when you called or when you text me and said I'm on with Rob Bell, I'm like damn, Rob Bell and Mike Bayer in one place. It's like uh, my, my little universe just tipped.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Hey, tell everyone what you're doing now?


HANK: Um, hang on, is Rob on right now? Yeah, he's on.


ROB BELL: I'm listening to him.


COACH MIKE BAYER: I have to put you in my ear, though.


ROB BELL: Yeah, Hank, how are you my man?


HANK: I can hear Rob; can Rob hear me?




HANK: Great. Rob, it's good to hear from you.


ROB BELL: Hank, we're playing


COACH MIKE BAYER: Our viewers.


ROB BELL: Hank, we're playing um, one degree of Hank pretty much here.


HANK FORTENER: I have the tremendous honor of uh, I get to run um, management, artist management here at Rock Nation.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Whatever, that sounds interesting. (LAUGHING)




COACH MIKE BAYER: But no, I just wanted- we both want to call you-


HANK FORTENER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) music executive and Rob was super helpful in helping me sort of unwind from my uh, current- the situation that I was in. And you were really helpful helping me sort of get locked into the situation I am in still. I think whether you knew or not, you were both um, key members of Rob helping me sort of move from one place to another and tempt you in without even knowing each other. And I think it's so interesting how so often that is what happens. Like you have a mentor for season. And I think Rob was a really critical mentor, mentor for a really important season, transitioning out of being a pastor, because Rob is like a pastor's pastor. He's the most famous pastor in the world. And then you were really, in such a way, ah such a critical mentor for me, stepping into entertainment and how to do that in a way where I kept a level head and was able to do that in a way that was helpful and not falling through all the other pitfalls that I think a lot of people, other people did. So, to me, I think it's, it's, it's really cool to have you guys both on the call because it's the perfect and analogous to the fact that you need mentors for different seasons of your life.


COACH MIKE BAYER: We sure do. Have you been a part of these calls that Rob has with three people? The (STAMMERING) three-part phone series?


HANK FORTENER: I have not been a part of them yet. They're sold out until like December or whatever, so I still haven't been able to slot my time yet.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Oh, they sound exciting. Well, he can't hear you because I got my headset on, but-


ROB BELL: No, I hear, I can hear.


COACH MIKE BAYER: I mean, ah, you can't- he can't hear you. Is what I’m saying, Rob. Well, I can put you on the ear?


ROB BELL: Yeah, Hank, apparently, we were both part of your jailbreak.


COACH MIKE BAYER: I'm so sorry. So honestly. Well, listen, love you very much, Hank. It's just you are a common friend. I want to give you- 


HANK FORTENER: Love you both. Thank you so much.


COACH MIKE BAYER: All right. Bye.




COACH MIKE BAYER: Hank's like, what the hell?


ROB BELL: He got like all formal.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And, Rob, you have a, you have a book, you have a book out. Let's talk about your book.


ROB BELL: Oh, yeah, "Everything is Spiritual". Yeah, that's the book, yeah.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And the inspiration behind that?


ROB BELL: I. The book is about. The universe is 13 billion years old, and what we now know from the Big Bang is that there's this bang, a point of infinitely compressed density that exploded thirteen point eight billion years ago. I'm gonna tell it to you like this is what actually happened with a straight face. But just tell me if I told this to you as this is the explanation, because it is the explanation. But then three minutes into the life of the universe, all there were particles, little bits and pieces of energy that began to bond with each other. And when they bonded together, that formed atoms. So then-


COACH MIKE BAYER: But how do we know all this?


ROB BELL: Right. Right. OK, now you're with me. Three minutes into the life of the universe, these atoms appear that the universe had never seen before, which are particles that bonded together. Then three hundred thousand years into the life of the universe, atoms begin to bond with other atoms and that forms molecules. The universe had never seen molecules. And then nine billion years in the life of the universe, molecules began bonding with other molecules and that formed cells. And 13 billion years in those cells form complicated systems and human beings arise. Who then, thirteen and a half billion years into this experience, develop consciousness. The ability to reflect on the fact that the universe has been expanding endlessly, creating new stuff for 13 billion years. Is that the weirdest story you've ever heard? Now, here's what's interesting. This universe that we call home is a dynamic place of endless evolving and becoming that never stops creating something new. So, you love art? Of course, you do. You're living in a universe that never stops creating new design. Your love of art is actually in alignment with what this thing has been doing for billions of years. So, I set out to write a book on what we know about the nature of this universe and how it never stops changing and growing and expanding and evolving. So, when you experience changing, growing, evolving, yes, of course, you're lining yourself up with what this thing has been doing for billions of years. Of course, it feels right. Of course, it leads to good things.




ROB BELL: But what I kept coming up with was. How did I come to this? How did I stumble into these ideas, how did I get shaped by all this? So, I started writing about how my grandma used to keep cash in her bra. I started writing about how my dad's dad died. And I ended up writing a memoir about the people and places I come from and what it was like to go into this work and what it was like to burn out and what it was like to experience all this criticism and what it was like to be a spiritual leader. And then it's mixed in with all of this science about how the universe is. So, I'm showing you from my story so you can see in your story how your story is both intimate and personal and it's also cosmic.






COACH MIKE BAYER: And then this is where, when people read this, that helps them connect the dots as well?


ROB BELL: And yeah, one of the things I, I tell lots of stories about how everything didn't work and how awkward and weird and strange it was and yet, what a wondrous, extraordinary thing it is to be alive.




ROB BELL: And what I kept noticing over the years is when I would ask people like if I were to ask you, what are the three or four or five events that most shaped you into who you are? You would probably tell me stories about suffering, loss, pain...




ROB BELL: Hitting the wall, rock bottom. So, what I noticed interacting with I don't know how many people over the past, whatever twenty five years is when we talk about what wakes us up and forms our core and spinal fortitude and our character and integrity, we don't tell stories about the vacation we went on in the new pair of pants we got. You know what I mean? I got a raise. No...




ROB BELL: We tell stories about falling down a flight of stairs and waking up and not knowing. We tell stories.




ROB BELL: So, there's some, so when I say spiritual, I'm talking about whatever that creative dynamic energy is that's present in all of your messes, inviting you to something new. It's like it's lurking there in all the pain and ache and heartache of life. There's something lurking in it that never stops inviting you to some sort of new creation. And that's what the ancients meant by the word spiritual.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And if someone wants to have a quick, like, shift where they're like getting back to being spiritual, right?




COACH MIKE BAYER: Like let's say whatever the day is going on, they're not in the moment. What have you found is the quickest way to do that? Or not the quickest necessarily, I'm not it doesn't need to be a hack, but you know.


ROB BELL: Yeah, um, the first thing is your mind is endlessly chattering. It's and it's endlessly analyzing, parsing, studying, it's detaching from things, observing them. So, the first thing always take a deep breath and sink down into heart, because whatever is challenging you, whatever is causing you anxiety right now, heart always knows the next step.




ROB BELL: Mind will think and process you out of the next step. I don't know, maybe (UNINTELLIGIBLE) there's a deep knowing that all human beings possess. You can call it intuition. You could call it spirit. But in my experience, there's a deep knowing.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And I imagine you have come across a lot of people who, have said, oh, I had such a bad experience with spirituality or religion right, or what have you.




COACH MIKE BAYER: And what is the best way to help someone, um...


ROB BELL: Well, I always, always, always when somebody talks about, well religion is so messed up, oh but, business is good? How's government working for you?


ROB BELL: Your education was perfectly suited to your unique person?


COACH MIKE BAYER: That's brilliant. That's brilliant.


ROB BELL: So, I go, religion is a really easy thing to take a stick and beat. Which I get fine. Priests, boring, ah anti women, anti-gay. Yeah, fine, yeah, that's it. But. Institutions, as a general rule, are capable for whatever good. Also, all sorts of destruction, so let's instead of calling it, I mean, you can beat on humans. We have a tremendous ability to make a mess of things. Let's get it right down there.




ROB BELL: You were burned. And then also secondly, whenever somebody says they've been burned by religion or burned by the church, I always say, no, that's impossible. You were burned by people.




ROB BELL: Because otherwise, you're trying to forgive something that's faceless. It's like somebody is angry with the government. Um, you can't be free from that bitterness because it's a faceless- who? Flesh and blood. Give me a license plate number and a name. We got to talk about people who wronged you. And that's generally where people can be liberated is, ok, actual people. Now we're making progress. Yeah.


COACH MIKE BAYER: You know what would be so helpful if you're willing to do this. If a week from this Tuesday, we're not having our empowerment this Tuesday because of the election, and I know it's- people will be distracted and we get a few thousand people who are going in the chat and whatever.




COACH MIKE BAYER: It gets a little hectic. But I think we need a- we need someone to help us uh, bring together afterwards, meaning a conversation or uh, that I think it would just be so helpful. I just have a gut feeling like you would be really good at it. And it's me double dipping on trying to figure out a way to get you to do it.


ROB BELL: I've actually been doing a lot, especially the past couple of months, I've been doing a lot of teaching on- there's an ancient pattern of orientation, disorientation, reorientation, and that we are actually right now in an epic bigger than at any time in our lifetime and epic stage of disorientation. And whenever you find yourself personally, collectively, politically in disorientation, all of your previous reference points, like your stable ground, aren't there like they used to be.




ROB BELL: And there are generally two human responses to disorientation. The one is to dig in your heels and desperately try to go back to how it was, which generally involves in idealizing of how it was. Let's just make it great again. Let's just um, gloss over the things that actually were really broken back there, because I'd rather have that security than this destabilization. So, in times of like a pandemic, in times of social upheaval, you'll see one response is to let's just go back.




ROB BELL: The universe only goes forward.




ROB BELL: So, that's why it feels like, no, no, the answer isn't to go back there. The other response is to let the pain and disorientation break you open and open you up to new possibilities that you never considered before.




ROB BELL: And you can see right now, I mean, this thing is classic ancient pattern. So, for example, the moment there's a shutdown and the economy seems to wobble, let's just get the economy reopened. Let's just get this thing back on track as opposed to wait a second, this is the world's greatest economy, and after four days of shutdown, it's headed for the Great Depression. That's a crap economy.




ROB BELL: The worst, the worst thing would be just to try to get it back to that. How about let the pain open you up to is there some better way to organize this so that it can actually handle a shut down in case there is a future pandemic?




ROB BELL: But you can see these two forces are the forces right now in the air?


ROB BELL: Yeah, and my experience when people see that what they are in is new but not new. This is, these are ancient patterns. They've been cycling through for thousands of years. People, I, I've just watched people like, oh, my God, thank you. OK, good. Yeah, you know what I mean.






COACH MIKE BAYER: So, I know (STAMMERING) politically, let's say, where I know, like a lot of people have stopped talking to their family members, or...




COACH MIKE BAYER: If you don't think like I think, then don't be my friend. You know, like...


ROB BELL: Right.


COACH MIKE BAYER: You see every which way. Right. Especially we're in West Hollywood, which...




COACH MIKE BAYER: Is, you know, activism capital, right. So.




COACH MIKE BAYER: Um, what do you suggest to someone who, ah doesn't want to carry other people's ah stress and, you know, like there's a real thing right now where it's like people are trying to- things are divided a bit and not everyone. Not everyone is there's a lot of people who aren't. A lot of people with microphones are divided. Right.




COACH MIKE BAYER: Um, and what do you think is the best way for someone who is open, and you know, open to evolution and things changing but also doesn't want to get in arguments and...


ROB BELL: Right.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Wants to avoid drama.


ROB BELL: Yeah, well, I mean, the first thing, you cannot take people where they don't want to go. So, yeah, fine, you can just endlessly send Facebook articles to your Uncle Paul, right? Like Uncle Paul, his world works for him. So, you have to let him wake up like you woke up. Otherwise, your enlightenment literally becomes an obstacle to somebody else's.




ROB BELL: And for so many people, wherever they're coming from, they experience something new, bigger, wider, more expansive, and they're so happy for the jailbreak that they immediately rushed back in and try to drag all their family members, roommates, siblings, former business partners. And for those folks like it, it's still they're not in enough pain. It still works.




ROB BELL: So. Once you see, you can't unsee. Once you taste, you can't even taste. Once it gets bigger, wider, more expansive, more evolved. You can't go back. So, what's interesting historically is there's often with innovation comes hand-in-hand with loneliness.




ROB BELL: Because what man, we all started out together, I know, but you kept going. It's that feeling when you run into somebody that you, like, went to school with and in, like the first minute, you're like, oh, my God, they're telling the same stories. They're like telling the same jokes. They live on the same block.




ROB BELL: They're still drinking with the same people. And you're like, I thought everybody got on the train and went somewhere. Right?


COACH MIKE BAYER: Right. Yeah, you're, you're by the way, you're so right, even right now, it's someone who will just regurgitate what they read or saw on television.


ROB BELL: Right.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And it's still going instead of really sitting back going, what do I really think about this? And let me explore it.


ROB BELL: Right.


COACH MIKE BAYER: If I am curious. Right.


ROB BELL: They're literally repeating what somebody told them so, uh in many, in my experience, many people, the idea of boundaries like what do you think is going to happen if you continually interact with them like they're not, they have zero curiosity. And what people don't often realize is your newfound evolution insight growth is actually profoundly disruptive to this person,




ROB BELL: Because if this person pulls on that thread and actually asks you, where have you been, Mike? What have you learned? Like what's happened? How come you're bigger, wider, more generous, more loving, more you seem like more, like what, um. And if they actually listen. That has, I mean, if they're part of the family business that might have economic dimensions, that might have, um I mean, there's lots of people who will come to my events and just say, what do you do when the people that you started out with think you've lost your mind, but you're actually more alive than ever because the institution will never tell you, hey, you might outgrow this? That's not good for the bar, you know what I mean. That's not good for the donations. So, institutions rarely tell people you might evolve beyond this because that will threaten the stability of the institution. So, people suddenly have these experiences. They travel and they realize there's a bigger world out there. I can't go back and pretend like the world is as small as I used to think it was. And often there's a loneliness that comes with that.


COACH MIKE BAYER: A loneliness to not be amongst the other people.


ROB BELL: Well, they're like God, if I go back and hang out where I used to, I'm just so bored.




ROB BELL: And like they're repeating the same cliches and it's like you just have to bless them. No judgment. But I got to keep following this. I got to see where it takes me. Like you were saying, I got to keep going.


COACH MIKE BAYER: It's grow or go. I learned that earlier. I learned that early in my life; it's grow or go.


ROB BELL: It took me seven minutes. And you're like, grow or go.


COACH MIKE BAYER: No, one of my supervisor's, her name was Diane Poole. Back in the day, I worked at a place called The Retreat in Wayzata, Minnesota, which is all about creating a spiritual solution for people's alcoholism and addiction. And it had the same efficacy and results as these huge clinical programs because it was really getting down to somebody's heart. And she also was my supervisor. I love her and anything she said I would do, and I wouldn't ask her questions. And she said, Michael, it comes down to either grow or you go. It's like you got to grow, and I was like, I've taken that to heart.


ROB BELL: That’s awesome. I love it.


COACH MIKE BAYER: And speaking of growing, you know, this podcast is called, well, I'm trying to do a good segue way out because I know we, we're out of time because it's called "Always Evolving", which is basically growing.


ROB BELL: Including this episode.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Huh? No. I mean actually you're the longest I've spoken to anyone on my podcast.


ROB BELL: Oh, really?


COACH MIKE BAYER: Really. Yeah. When we went to- when it became over Zoom because I'm in my podcast room, I have a whole set up and everything. I can no longer do the show I wanted. And so, I felt like I was doing a radio phoner and all of a sudden I was starting to get bored. So, I was like, I'm going to do these. A majority of them I did in twenty, twenty-five minutes. I was like, I'm doing these fast podcast episodes because I'm not, I'm not, you know. It's just because some people, you get them on your podcast and you're like, you don't know. You haven't had a conversation with certain people, you don't know where it could end up. And sometimes I, sometimes I found myself just going... You know, hey, you know, there's an energy to when you see someone, and you can feel them.


ROB BELL: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.


COACH MIKE BAYER: You know, but I really appreciate you coming on this podcast. Your websites, what?


ROB BELL: Rob Bell dot com.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Rob? Wow, that's pretty- you must have gotten that back in the day.


ROB BELL: Rob Bell dot com.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Rob Bell dot com to look at all Rob's books. He's had so many grand slam New York Times best sellers. Also, check out his new book, "Everything Is Spiritual". And anything else you want to say, Rob?


ROB BELL: I was so glad to meet you. We found our Hank connection. We were off to the races.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, well, thanks, man. We'll stay in touch and we'll definitely connect.


ROB BELL: Yes. Absolutely, absolutely. Maybe out on a sidewalk.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, exactly.


ROB BELL: In masks.


COACH MIKE BAYER: Yeah, exactly.