Monday, August 07, 2006

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 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.



At 7:16 AM, Anonymous Rhonda Ethridge said...

Praise God , Our Heavenly Father !

Jared - you took the words
right out of my mouth -
and I'm glad you did -
because you said it way
better than I could - -

I tried every chance I could yesterday to give
Randy, John., everyone
I knew on staff a big big
hug - and told them that
I loved them and was there
for them.

I am going to make sure
that all my BCC sisters & brothers
read your comment - -

I salute you -

God Bless our church,
Thank God for our elders,
who had the courage to
stand up in the face of
great adversity - (they
knew there would be anger) -and did what was RIGHT.
They stood up for the
current staff - and ALL
the past staff, past elders
and YES - past people like
you and me who have left

Once again thank you for
saying it, what we all should be saying.

God bless BCC,
Rhonda Ethridge

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to be honest up front…I’m married to a staff member and I am truly blessed to be “doing life” with many of the staff on a daily basis.

Jared, thank you for remembering the staff. BCC is “lead” on a daily basis by an amazingly small army of believers who give 110% to the mission and values of our church (not just to one man). They all have been inspired (perhaps even infected) by Dr. Foster’s passion and vision. They have signed on to not just attend BCC but to dedicate their lives and the lives of their family to its mission.

I heard someone ask two staff members “Why were you on stage [behind the elders]? Whose side are you on?” Their answer was quick and simple. “It’s not about sides. We love Dr. Foster. We’re not for any side, we’re for BCC.”

In BCC’s hour of need they didn’t want the congregation to be alone. They didn’t want the elders to stand alone. BCC is not about one man, one man’s vision, or one man’s leadership. BCC is all of us, together, loving one another and taking real hope, out to real people, in the real world!

At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANK YOU JARED. As serving as current staff, I have felt lost. There are others that have expressed that, but most of us if not all(with a few exceptions) support our elders 100%, and we believe in the mission and BCC. If not, why stay...for the paycheck...are you joking?...if that was the case its a sad day for those doing it for 'the J O B" and a sad day for the vision, mission and for God's work in the community.

At the end of the day I believe in BCC and its vision with all my being, sometimes physically to a fault..being at church sometimes more than home with family. I believe God has placed it on this hill for a very tangible, important, purpose. I believe healing will come from this as God could only orchestrate. "Faithful servant" seems kind of tame to describe this passion, but we are called to be just that.

I humbly submit I don't know the answers nor am I any great "spiritual" pillar. I can say even with my conviction for Christ in my life being strong, that I still, to a degree, am reeling from the situation. Staff are human too. But, I feel renewed, after this weekend and witnessing the community of BCC holding hands and 'feeling" the restorative power in that room. In those moments I am certain God is revealing us the next 'big idea' for BCC. We(I) trust Him with all that has happened, and move on to protect what we know and have come to love about this hope-filled place called BCC.

Thank you Jared for your honesty and your awareness for the staff who have been caught in the middle. It means so much to us to know that people haven't left us in the middle of a "custody" battle.


At 8:08 AM, Blogger judas icarus said...

I can speak for the "former" BCC staff members... at least symbolically, I suppose.... I can only really speak for myself, really....

But, what has been brought to light will surely help heal the "whole" of BCC... and vindicate it's history.... and those that have been a part of creating it... like former staff members... especially those who were hurt.... and tried to speak up and speak out....
I was amazed by the outpouring of worship this weekend.... and how it was truly focused on what was important.... God.... Jesus... our relationship with them.... which then should bear witness in our relationships with each other....

So, for all the past staff members.... I say... thank you, Jared, for framing what has transpired in such a way as to allow many to really capture this recent moment... and keep it in their scrapbooks... as a reminder that we are all fractured, fallen and fallible.... but we are not FORSAKEN!

Praise His Name.... Jesus Christ....

I've been on the mend for a few years now.... and I think I'm rounding the bend.... what's that up ahead.....?

I see it now..... yes..... redemption.... eternity..... heaven....

For everyone..... that believes....

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard
BCC staff member - 1999-2001

At 9:15 AM, Anonymous Nathan said...

And likewise...

"It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to be great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Matthew 20: 26-28

See, this is Christ as a model for leadership. Not leadership in the grand, worldly sense, but in the sense that we are all supposed to be living out.

This function has been "broken" at BCC in that the majority of the peope in the seats looked for talent, charisma, and "renegade" over the heart of the Gospel. Many still look at it in the same way as they will continue to follow David or seek another like him.

We can't observe the daily life of our Church leaders but it becomes pretty obvious when they aren't submiting to each other as servants. Churches split all the time and it ain't because a whole lotta nothing.

Humility is among the chief marks of a leader. Not one who calles attention to himself or won't submit to correction again and again.

( I'm not the Nathan in your small group by the way.... I'm just a Caveman. )

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What no one realizes is the amount of unbelievable talent that once existed at BCC with their staff, Sadly, this decision came too late for many of them. If you track down former BCC staff and see what they are doing's like a Who's Who of church ministry. The talent and class of leaders that once existed at BCC was unbelievable. God has really taken many of them on to incredibly powerful and impactful ministries.

Our prayers is that God will once again rally a new team together that will once again see BCC back on mission...but healthier!

Thanks Jared!! You'll never know how much that post meant to us former BCCer's.

For many of us, that will still always be "home" for us. We still love the church and why it exists.

You're in our thoughts and prayers!

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

I'm a current BCC staffer. And bro, thanks so much for just who you are and the gift God has given you of communication. I know there's a lof of us on staff that got incredible encouragment from your blog. Thanks man. We all are excited and ready for the future of BCC. The circling of the wagons happened this past weekend and now we're ready to head out for the great adventure!!

At 1:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 2:08 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Anonymous, I could go into how it was an obvious exaggeration, not a genuine threat, or about how justice for the persecuted is very "beatitudinal" ;-), but actually, you're right. It was unnecessary and uncalled for. Please accept my apologies.

I'd edit it out, but I don't want anyone to think I've anything to hide.
I will be the first to admit that my desire for Christlike living must begin with me. I appreciate the rebuke.

At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Were you refering to talkbbc group entry #305 when you said "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." ? If so, IT WAS MY ENTRY AND YOU TWISTED MY WORDS. I said "It is all opinion whether David is a bully or over passionate. And I am so sick and tired of hearing about poor Randy Thompson. AGAIN we don't know David's side of the story. Maybe Randy needed some tough love, I don't know. Maybe David was out of line, I don't know." IF it was my entry you totally twisted my words and used them out of context. WHERE DO YOU SEE THAT I SAID HE DESERVED IT?

At 7:47 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Anonymous, I was referring to an entry from before today, not yours from today.

For what it's worth, though, I consider being "sick and tired of hearing about poor Randy Thompson" pretty heartless too.

At 9:24 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

My, oh, my....

Please keep this place from disentegrating like it has at TalkBCC!

To even have to debate the point about a pastor berating anyone... or attempting to justify it by calling it "tough love".... is very, very pointless...

But, if Mr. Anonymous above wants to validate "tough love".... then he can accept that as what justified dismissing David Foster...

I can go with that!

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard


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