Not Forgotten -- More Kingdom Stuff
We trust that Dr. Foster is getting the support he needs. Much of it is probably coming from BCC members. The Foster family does need your prayer and encouragement during this time.
As someone asked at the TalkBCC Forum last week, though, "Where is the WeLoveYouElders website?"
I'll go one better. Where's WeLoveYouBCCStaff.com? You realize there are more staff members than David and Paula Foster, right? They seem to have been forgotten. While the battle-wagers wage on with this manufactured battle between the elders and Dr. Foster, I expect those who have been and still are hurting because of this gradual mess are watching with patience and caution.
I have received many e-mails and face-to-face messages of thanks from former and current staff members. I hope they are receiving encouragement and prayer in return.
Folks, there are victims in this story, and they aren't the Fosters. And while the elders have received plenty of abuse, scorn, and threats, the real victims aren't the elders either.
With all the excuses and dismissals of abusive and unspiritual behavior as mere "imperfections" and "flaws," how about just an ounce of compassion for Randy Thompson? One yahoo at the Yahoo Forum said he'd like to hear Foster's side, to hear what Pastor Thompson did to "deserve" the verbal undressing. That yahoo needs to make sure he does not run into me in a dark alley.
Listen, if you think for a moment that there aren't staff members who have wondered about their futures at BCC, knowing that many vocal supporters of the Fosters have promised to take their money elsewhere, your sense of perspective is way off. Last week I mentioned I would talk about the missing piece to this conversational puzzle, and now I will. The staff. Anybody talking about the staff? Anybody ready to recognize that there are actual victims of verbal and emotional (and spiritual?) abuse here?
Anybody realize that concern for them should be our chief concern right now? (Instead of, you know, whether or not you get to hear a really good speaker for 30 minutes on the weekend.)
For people who are still smarting from their experiences -- and as a former victim of pastoral abuse, I can tell you the pain and confusion does not go away for a long time -- the words "Dr. Foster is BCC" might be very scary. Because these folks have lived, slept, and breathed BCC. These folks do not have the exposure or renown. But they have been working very hard for a very long time in very difficult conditions to make sure, in part, that a "demanding" person receive exposure and renown. It can mess with your head, believe me. ;-)
Our church is beautiful. Flaws, scars, and all, it is beautiful. From the person who signs the checks to the person who scrubs the toilets. (And I've worked church maintenance before, so I lift my plunger in salute. ;-) From the pastor comforting the grieving at the hospital to the guy turning knobs on the soundboard. From office to office, cubicle to cubicle, seat to seat, our church is run by fantastic people who buy into the big idea of Bellevue Community Church.
We have to take care we are not forgetting them as we try to forget this whole episode. They are hopeful about our future, optimistic that we have learned a lesson.
These men and women have carried a cross. It became too heavy. The elders stepped in to carry it for them. The congregation has to do the same. Are we about bearing each other's burdens? Or are we about dismissing them because we have not felt the weight ourselves?
Maybe you don't get that. Maybe you just want this whole sordid mess behind you. That's all right. We can carry you too. As far as I'm concerned, that's part of why BCC exists -- to carry the weak and wounded.
But you have to want to go. We can't drag you.
Maybe you should take a look again at the Beatitudes in Jesus' Sermon on the Mount:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
There is lots of stuff "to do" in the Sermon on the Mount, but it is more accurately a list of stuff to be. The Beatitudes are a description of what the kingdom of God looks like. It is not rightly thought of as "do such-and-such and then you will make the kingdom;" it is rightly thought of as "if you are in the kingdom, this is what your life will look like."
Is this what BCC looks like? I think it does now. For starters, anyway. And we're heading in the right direction. The decision that was made was not an easy one and it was not a pleasant one, but if we really want to be about comforting the mourners, rewarding the meek, satisfying the thirsters for righteousness, showing mercy to the merciful, showing God to the pure in heart, affirming the peacemakers, and blessing the persecuted, then absolutely the right decision was made. It was the right decision if we really want BCC to be about bringing the kingdom of heaven to the poor in spirit. Not if we just want to say it is. But if we really want it to be.