Mr. Bell, 35, is the pastor and founder of Mars Hill Bible Church, an independent evangelical congregation in Grandville, Mich., outside Grand Rapids. The church has a weekly attendance of 10,000 and meets in a former mall.
His performance here was the first in a monthlong tour of 21 cities — joined by one roadie, a whiteboard and his wife and two sons — taking him to venues usually presenting rock bands. His 100-minute talk, billed as "Everything Is Spiritual," features no music or film clips, no sound other than his voice and the squeak of his marker, filling the board with Hebrew characters, diagrams, biblical interpretation and numbers.
He wore black pants and shirt, and spoke with the awed enthusiasm of someone describing a U2 concert, moving from a gee-whiz discussion of physics to questions of how God might move in other dimensions, like those discovered by mathematical string theorists.
"When you get to the subatomic level, everything we know about the basic makeup of the universe falls apart," he told the audience. "They use phrases like 'we don't know.' So high-end quantum physicists are starting to sound like ancient Jewish poets."
One more thing:
Mr. Bell sang in a rock band while attending a Christian college in Wheaton, Ill. He then went to Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., and entered the ministry through the nondenominational Calvary Church in Grand Rapids, which is conservative both theologically and politically. Ed Dobson, the church's senior pastor, helped write the agenda for the Moral Majority and was a personal assistant to Jerry Falwell.
At his own church and in his videos, Mr. Bell avoids controversial topics like same-sex marriage, abortion rights and school prayer, and in his talk here he offhandedly dismissed "any spiritual institution that says you should vote a certain way."
Explaining afterward, he said: "It's against what Jesus had in mind when it becomes about how much power we can have as a voting bloc. The way of Jesus is serving the voiceless."