Fans and congregants of Rob Bell and Mars Hill Bible Church caused the ministry's website to crash Thursday night, as news of the Love Wins author's resignation started to spread.
Mars Hill explained on its official Facebook page: "Hey guys, sorry the website has crashed from all the traffic. We are working to get it back up. In the meantime, here is the info that is on our news page..."
The post went on to show the same statement listed on the Grandville, Mich., church's website.
The statement, released by the Mars Hill Bible Church staff, on Bell's departure reads:
"Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities, our founding pastor Rob Bell, has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God's love with a broader audience."
Members of Mars Hill and other curious observers have been logging onto the church's Facebook page to react to the announcement of Bell leaving the church he founded 12 years ago.
Josh Gould declared the news as "brutal" and added: "But rob has such a unique perspective that has helped me grow tremendously."
Monica Clink responded, "Very sad to see Rob go, but excited for him and his new opportunities."
Connie Park stated, "It will be different without him!! Will have too see what happens next!!!"
Craig McDade responded, "In college, I started my walk with God. I have Rob Bell and Mars Hill to thank for that. Good luck Rob!"
Aran Walter commented, "Rob, may you be filled with the grace and peace of God in the next chapter of you and your family's life."
Said Hayden Jessie: "Very sad to hear. He speaks for so many of us that hear his message and are excited to be Christians again. I wish him well and I hope what he has started at Mars Hill continues."
Jeff Sytsma added, "End of an era. The start of a new one."
These are just a few of many comments left on Mars Hill Church’s Facebook page.
It was not clear how long the Mars Hill website was down.
The church stated that Bell would explain his departure and new call in greater detail during Mars Hill Bible Church's upcoming Sunday service on Sept. 25.