Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Character Matters

A commenter on an older post writes:
We do not care what he has done in his private life, or in his dealings with [others]. We just know that he is a great speaker and we have always taken something good away . . . after listening to him speak . . . His faith, humor, wit, and his caring for the congregation, to lead us in the right direction, that is all that matters to us.

I'll be honest in saying that stuff like this scares the bejeebers out of me.
It doesn't matter what a person does behind closed doors, or how he treats those in close proximity to him, so long as he continues to perform well and inspire from the stage?

I'm sorry, but character matters. I believe I actually have more respect for the object of this commenter's adulation, because I think even the speaker referenced would say that what a man does behind closed doors is important. How one treats others when he's not in the spotlight matters. Otherwise it's just "talk," right?
The commenter appears, remarkably enough, to confirm this, to say that "Yeah, I don't care if somebody walks his talk so long as I enjoy his talk." And that, folks, is the shallowest (and most dangerous) approach to discipleship of all.

Let me flip the script a bit on this commenter, if he or she is still reading. Suppose you have a child in school whose teacher constantly verbally abuses her in private. Essentially, this teacher hates your kid and lets her know at every opportunity. But in general, the teacher is a capable and talented educator, and the average grade of the entire class is pretty high. Most parents and others see the teacher as a great person with lots of skill. But you know the teacher is terrifying your daughter behind closed doors.
Now ask yourself, how would this statement by another parent strike you: "We don't care what she does in private or how she treats individual students, we just know she's good at teaching."
Does that make sense to you?

The Bible actually says a few things about integrity, about what a believer does in "private life," about outward appearances and reputation versus character and secret dealings. Here's a sampling:

Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.
-- Psalm 101:5

If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.
-- 1 John 4:20-21

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean.
-- Matthew 23:27

Character matters. If that upsets your weekend spiritual entertainment, so be it.

21 Comments:

At 7:34 AM, Blogger Midknightrider said...

I agree 100%. When I read that comment I thought to myself, how could you continue to follow someone that showed that little respect for those closest to him. I know a lot of the staff personally, and believe me, they have just as much passion for God as the pastor does.

 
At 10:18 AM, Blogger Brack said...

Man, that's scary. What happens outside public view speaks volumes more than what's crafted for a public consumption.

 
At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe that most people would agree with this post, and yes even David Foster would agree with this posting. However, many of us who will be attending The Gathering this weekend do not believe the elders VERSION of the facts. We believe that Dave DOES have the character to lead us.

 
At 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. My heart breaks for "anonymous" above. When you figure that 6 elders, 10 ex-elders and then countless other men (Bill, Randy, Pete, Jason, Jeff, Justin, Scott, Maurillo, Jim, to name but just a few) have absolutely NOTHING to gain when they tell horror stories of how the same man has verbally abused them and/or stories of how he can't account for the hundreds of thousands of dollars he's reimbursed himself over the years, it's amazing that there are still people who don't hear it. I mean really hear it. Why would all these men get together and fabricate such a story? Are they bored? Are they all Judas'? All my trust is in God. I trust that all that is covered will be uncovered and all that is uncovered will be covered. Additionally, my family and I have attended BCC for almost 9 years and have been active in almost every part of the church. Each one of us has a wonderful story of how Dave Foster has touched our lives. We've tithed regularily and given sacrifically on top of that. I say that to assure you that I'm not being bitter or malicious. The fact is, the man has no moral authority or character and won't until he repents.

 
At 1:34 PM, Anonymous diane said...

You know, you can say that the elders fabricated this laundry list of character issues and other facts regarding the dimissal of Dave, that is your choice. But to my knowledge no staff and few musicians have left to follow Dave and be a part of The Gathering. It speaks volumes to me that those who worked closest to David Foster are staying at BCC.

 
At 1:42 PM, Blogger C. Evan Leonard said...

Well, you should try asking the 40+ staff members who left BCC over the past several years, too. And, maybe the sizable amount of previous members and attenders that migrated to Cross Point Church and elsewhere due to his leadership and character issues several years ago. It just wasn't made public and his job never was at stake. Although, it should've been.

I find it hard, if not impossible, to understand how...as many people that did come under his mantle... including some of his long-time and staunchest friends and supporters... could or would just make up something that would ultimately require a founding pastors dismissal. How much fact do you need? How many people do you require? How much hurt is necessary?

You speak of only a handful of elders being the only people who were stung by his lack of spiritual character... behind closed doors and in private meetings. There were many more. Many who simply went quietly. Hurt and disheartened that their pastor could act and behave in ways unbecoming of his position. Not to mention way off the mark of what the word of God indicates is essential and expected. His dismissal was no fluke. It was no conspiracy.

But, it is obvious that you will or would only believe the facts (truth)... if you were personally hurt or mistreated by the person whose character came under scrutiny and into question.

For me... that shows a lack of faith in and compassion for your Christian brothers and sisters. You imply that a large consensus of people are either liars or incapable of discerning someone's character. People that worked with him and for him and were around him more often. And, your last comment could only be made because you do not truly know the man. You've watched him from a distance and you surely never worked with him or for him.

I could give you a list of people, who, from a distance, look or have looked completely incapable of hurting anyone. Folks who you would swear had impeccable character. Many of them learned how to fool the public. As you may very well find you are being fooled.

I would love to know what your basis is for believing he DOES have the character to lead you. But, tell me this, why should I believe you are right? I haven't seen that side of him. Should I just take your word for it? Could you be a liar or be incapable of discerning someone's true character? You seem to think that about a lot of people. A lot of good people. A lot of good people who were hurt and mistreated. It wasn't just a handful of elders.

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 2:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps I misspoke or was misunderstood..........I said "I do not believe the elders VERSION of the facts". I never said they fabricated any facts. There is ALWAYS 2 sides to every story. The elders have their side of the story and Dave has his. I have heard both sides of the story. Has anyone else heard Dave's side of the story?

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment that you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
Matthew 7.1-5

So if you judge people with righteous indignation, as some have suggested, then be prepared to be judged with righteous indignation.

 
At 3:47 PM, Blogger C. Evan Leonard said...

You quote Bible scripture completely out of context to what has been expressed by several people here. A few, it seems, that were or are not elders.

And, YES, not only have I heard his side of the story... I witnessed his side of the story, personally, on many occasions. It's what brought about his dismissal from the church he founded... although even that is debatable.

You cling to this "two sides to every story" rational like it holds water. It doesn't. There were and are many sides to this particular story. You seem inclined to believe the side of the story (I guess you've been told by him personally) that belongs to the person who still can't or won't truly admit all that he has done. He has spun off his dismissal as people disagreeing, issues of passion not anger, acts that great leaders inevitably commit... it's part of their DNA... and etc...

I completely understand, my friend.... I turly do.... and you know why?

For a long, long time... myself and others believed it to..... but it (his lack of character) became more than the current crop of staff, elders and members could stand.

You stand in a boat with holes in it... oblivious to the water that has seeped in. Thinking somehow the holes will simply fill themselves if you believe in a person who has proven to be in serious need of counsel. As well as repentance.

God bless you... and Dave..... but at least appreciate the fact that if God is in control... and you truly believe that..... then that should tell you all you need to know about his dismissal and lack of character.....

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger Midknightrider said...

I just hope and pray that the people I call friends will step up ,if needed, and call me on anything that I might be doing that is not in my best interest. And that I have the good sense to listen.

 
At 7:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

God IS in control.....and I believe that he is leading me to The Gathering...........whether YOU believe it or not. I do not judge you or the elders or anyone for that fact. Im sorry if some disagree with my interpretation of scriptures.

Sheep go where they are feed.

 
At 5:37 AM, Blogger Jared said...

Hey, folks -- on both sides -- can I ask you to think twice before commenting? This post is not about Dr. Foster or The Gathering, but about the dangerous idea that character is unimportant.

I want to provide a place for people to discuss, and even debate if need be, but I don't want the threads to get sidetracked into "He's a jerk"/"No he's not" arguments like the BCC Forum did.
---

Comment moderation is still enabled, and if you're wondering why something you've said hasn't appeared, it's likely because I believe it crossed the line. And if you're keeping score, I've rejected 1-2 "pro-Dave" comments, 2 "anti-Dave" comments, and asked 1 more "anti-Dave" commenter to edit his comment before submitting it again.

So I'm an equal opportunity censor.
;-)

 
At 7:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's very very sad, but anonymous posting 736pm , last sentence
is most telling of all.
"Sheep go where they are fed."
It's all about getting what he/she needs, from DF's teachings. And that is assuming
that NO ONE else can do it as well
as DF. His crossing-the-line unethical (for any human being let alone the LEADER of a church) behavior and actions, do not ALLOW me to look the other way and put my need to be fed, above what is right. And using the phrase "version of the facts" is insulting. Facts are facts. Granted we TELL the story differently. But you cannot dispute the FACTS. And if you choose to ignore them, admit it. I find it very telling that most of the people I know who are wanting to be involved in The Gathering, believe only DF can feed them. I have found that I have been so richly fed, beyond what I could have predicted by the last few lessons we have had taught by Jeff and Bill. And why is that ? it's because JESUS speaks THROUGH THEM. So he will use whatever vessel he has. NOT ONE MAN. And whatever new lead pastor comes to lead, Jesus will speak through him as well.
Anonymous, you are doing yourself a disservice by limiting yourself to one man.
I appreciate what the elders did,
which was put their CHURCH , their
body of Christ FIRST.

Rhonda

 
At 8:13 AM, Blogger C. Evan Leonard said...

Well, sheep being fed by a shepherd with questionable spiritual character... whoever that shepherd might be... is a poor argument for going to a contaminated trough because they're hungry and don't care about anything else but feeding.

Character is important and however you slice it... some sheep are more discerning... some are not.

Anonymous (sheep) suggests that what is important is being fed... not the feed they might be digesting or the character of the shepherd who might be feeding them.

It is also clear that some sheep are co-dependent upon the hand/voice of a "man" shepherd that feeds them... not solely dependent on the Savior who shepherds all Christians and feeds them with the undiluted, unadulterated Word of God. And a shepherd/Savior whose character has never been called into question. A shepherd/Savior who never hurt anyone or mistreated anyone. A sheperd/Savior with impeccable and authentic moral authority to pastor His flock.

Perhaps we're talking apples and oranges. Because there simply is no comparison between these two shepherds.

For me, what appears to be painfully obvious is this:
For some sheep... a shepherd with issues.... particularly spiritual character issues... remains acceptable and laudable because of a superficial speaking talent or gift... with no other expectations or requirements. Biblically speaking that is in direct conflict with the requirements and expectations expressed in the Word of God.

I don't really have a problem with sheep being fed... or shepherded.... I just have a problem with any sheep who don't understand the importance of character and any shepherd who would continue shepherding... knowing full well that they should retire for a season and go back to shepherding school. The teacher would be Jesus Christ and the book of study would be the Bible.

And, that shepherd would be doing his sheep the greatest service if they were to encourage their flock to do the same thing. To desire or want anything else indicates that the agenda is not God's. It is the agenda of the "man" shepherd who truly has no real regard for sheep.

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger JDEG said...

This is my first post here.

Annonymous... Please take some time to read the books of Jude and II Peter.

I first became associated with Dr. DF 16 years ago as an early member of BCC. I began to phase out 8 years ago and have been gone about 5 years.

The assumption that there is a need for a "seeker church" implies the assumption that their are in fact "seekers". The word indicates... NO! (Jer. 5:1 Romans 3:11)

The "Seeker Church" >IS< the wide road. Attracting people who are "seeking" a form of Godliness. Seeking to construct or belong to an environment/organization that meets their spiritual WANTS, a Jesus with smooth edges. I like to call this the "Mr. Potato Head Jesus". Instead of being conformed to his image we can now conform him to ours.

Jesus did'nt do a lot of dancing around verbally that we here in so many of today's "successful" churches. He cut to the chase. Of course cutting to the chase does'nt build large auditoriums, provide enormous salaries, book deals, motivational speaking gigs, trendy transportation or weekly 5 1/2 day sabbaticals either does it.

Of course it's about being fed, but what's on the menu ?

Super Size Me ?

No thank you.

 
At 11:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jared, I owe you a big "thank you." I'm a pro-BCCer whose last comment was rejected. I wrote with anger and not with compassion or understanding. Not much character on my part, huh? You're right. This need not turn into a place to say hateful things, again. We've been down that road. No one can deny that character is important. Especially if one is to be in the public eye. If I were having an affair on my husband, there's no way I'd be able to say to anyone, with any moral authority, that they should stay faithful to their spouse. Even if I was the best wife in the world in every other way. However, if I had an affair in the past and confessed my sin, stopped doing the sin, and repented, than I believe -no-I KNOW- that God would use me in a mighty way to help others who have found themselves in the same situation (if I let Him use me). But, if I don't recognize my behavior as being a problem (especially if my friends, who love me, tell me I have a problem) and I don't apologize to those I've hurt, then I'm destined to repeat the same behavior over again. Even if I get caught or if I twist the facts to make me look like I'm the victim (But my husband won't.....).
God has used Dave Foster in some amazing ways over the years. He's a simple man from Kentucky, who found himself with thousands of people "following" him. I think it got to be too much for him. He's only human and he stumbled. My prayer is that he will open his heart and soul and repent his sins and ask for forgiveness from his family, friends and "followers." Dave, you taught us well. We'll respond with the same grace that the Elders and ex-staff have shown you for years. Will God still use Dave if he doesn't repent? Probably. But just imagine what would happen to Nashville and beyond if a man like Dave Foster could own up to his sins. Now, THAT could have an impact on 50,000+ people!

 
At 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never said NO ONE else could feed my spiritual needs as well as DF. Rhonda made that assumption. And facts are not always black and white. And YES I DO choose to ignore ALL the facts from BOTH sides of the argument, I am not denying that. I WILL NOT JUDGE ANYONE FOR ONLY GOD KNOWS A MANS HEART. Why must some people be so offended by how others choose to worship God or who they choose as a spiritual leader? We have known DF for over 25 years, he has always been controversial, it has never mattered to us. God still speaks thru Dave, if you can't tell that after hearing him speak, then you just are not listening. If you don't like DF don't go to The Gathering, its as simple as that.

Many at this site have suggested that because that the elders are good men, and I'm not suggesting otherwise, that God was in control of the situation. And that it was Gods will that Dave be removed. Well maybe it was. Maybe God has other, perhaps bigger, plans for Dave. It has always been my belief that more people should hear Dave speak, maybe this was Gods way of making that happen. Maybe this is God's way of molding Dave into a better person, I don't know and neither does anyone else.

But if everything is Gods will, then lets look at the 911 tragedy. The hijackers believed that God wanted them to perpetrate the attacks on this country. Did God want it?..........it happened therefore it must be Gods will (insert sarcasm). Perhaps God did want it to happen, was he on the terrorist side? Is he on ours? God gives us freewill so we can choose our own path, it doesn't mean that its the right path just because its in the majority opinion of a bunch of good people. Only God knows the truth.

It is a narrow gate.

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger C. Evan Leonard said...

What the last person posted... especially the last part of their post... really says it all.

Why is that so hard for some people to grasp?

I don't think anyone really truly believes God can't or won't use those who have fallen or messed up or made mistakes.

It just takes the courage and the conviction to act and to take God at His word and He will do what He does best.

As He has done with so many of us... time after time...

I couldn't agree more with the statements made by this recent anonymous poster...

And, I think many of us know how difficult it can be to take the steps necessary for God to use us in even more mightier ways... and He will once we acknowledge and take the actions necessary for Him to do just that.

It's pretty simple and it's very much what God wants for those that profess the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives. He loves seeing us come to Him through His Son and being willing to be used in spite of our unworthiness.

And, however we are viewed by people... it's what God sees in us that truly matters. None of us can hide our character from Him. So, why pretend to anyone that He can't?

The poster ultimately said "just imagine the impact it could have on 50,000+".... and that's a cool thing....

But imagine the smile on the face of God..... the only One we really should be concerned about pleasing.

I don't know how many times I heard... "we serve an audience of one"... spoken by someone who seems to be determined to please a handful of faithful followers... but who has also been quoted as having said... "I'm not a people pleaser"...

Due to my own propensity to procrastinate, personal paralysis at times and an acute case of verbosity... I probably dislike this saying more than most... but...

"Actions speak louder than words"...

I haven't seen, in action, what I've heard, in teaching, from our brother in Christ... and I haven't for a long time...

I know that many of us have prayed and continue to pray that we will.... because we know it would truly be a God thing... and it makes me wonder if he really knows how many people truly love him... care about him... and just don't understand why he chooses to not act upon the the truth in the gospel he has taught many of us...

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to ask a question, and I know it isn't about the current thread, but more about the bigger situation. Can someone tell me how many people have been attending BCC, since the CRASH? Is it still almost 4,000? It sounds to me by reading the posts that most or all of the staff is still in place. For instance; Are the teachers for the kids still there? I don't attend, and just wanted to know.

Also, a point was made by C. Evan about leadership that has left over the past years. Are you positive that (ALL) their reasons had to do with Foster? In my experience, leaders/bosses/managers/etc. often leave their job for another simply because of a great opportunity presenting itself elsewhere. I don't mean to call you out C. Evan, you just seem to know alot about the situaion, and I do not.

Thank you
Anonymous #100

 
At 2:06 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Anonymous #100, attendance hasn't been near 4,000 in quite a while, actually.

I was out with a staff member Monday night, and one of the things I asked him was about attendance figures. He said before the "exodus" BCC was averaging about 2200 on the weekend, and over the last few weeks it's been about 1600. That's actually not a huge drop, and it is in fact somewhat consistent with the estimate of how many attended the first Foster meeting at the Maxwell.

We also know that more folks are coming to the church, some are coming back after being away for a while and some are new to the church and don't know a thing about Dr. Foster or the recent mess (I met a woman at the Conexus rally who just moved to Nashville 2 weeks ago and is already signing up for a small group at the church).

So while a drop was expected, and while getting back up to previous speed may take a bit, the decline in attendance has not been devastating by any stretch and as most folks who've been through a church split or the exit of a popular pastor can tell you, the arrival of a new pastor spurs higher attendance as well.
---

Some of this is pretty counterintuitive, given how much a lot of people assumed was riding on Dr. Foster's presence in the pulpit. Our attendance has not suffered an insurmountable setback, and as one of the elders pointed out in the second cottage meeting, giving actually increased a bit during Dr. Foster's decreased presence on stage (prior to his dismissal). (That was in response to a questioner who asserted that giving had to have decreased as Dr. Foster's teaching duties were decreased. He was wrong, as it turns out.)

 
At 2:14 PM, Blogger C. Evan Leonard said...

Wow.... to say you've known him 25 years (Anonymous-narrow gate).... seems hard to believe. Really known him?

Or known of him?

It is plain to see you have not worked with him or for him and persist in stating and believing that being controversial allows an educated, seminary-trained, doctor and pastor to do what they shouldn't... according to God's word.... to those he was given the responsibility of shepherding.

That is so incredibly hard to fathom. And, you even say you choose to ignore the facts... from both sides...

At this point... I can't take you very seriously... in as much because of your own irrational statements including the whole "everything is God's will" ... so how do we accept the terrorist act on 9/11... since they believed they were in God's will. Well, they may very well have believed that.. but they also believed in a god that does not include Jesus Christ. Let alone the Holy Spirit.

I guess you have made it as clear as one can... that you, for some very unique and odd reasons, are willing to follow the muse of your own path and doing so is justifiable for all... because God has given everyone that freedom.... but it seems you are forgetting that He had a Son who died for our sins and set the example and walked the path we should be following. Including accepting the Word of God when it comes to how lack of spiritual character leads to people being hurt, mistreated and... in your case, it seems.... deceived. As well as what should happen when it becomes a problem.

These are things that Jesus taught his disciples... and I have to believe he expected all future disciples to abide by those teachings. How can anyone calling themselves a pastor or a shepherd be separate from or above the teachings of Christ?

Show me or define for me what actions have been taken that align with the Word of God... and the teachings of Jesus... in the case of our errant brother in Christ....

Please.... I would literally come to your house... if you would or could....

And your last paragraph completely misses the mark regarding the minds, hearts and spirits of people being able to discern the truth... right before their eyes.... in a person's character, actions and words.

To say only God knows the truth... is to say that every or any person who reads or shares the teachings (the gospel) of Jesus Christ... do not.... know the truth.... and how can that be? The Word of God conflicts with your understanding of discerning and knowing and.... telling the truth.

I always come back to this.... why would so many, many people lie about what they witnessed, experienced and were hurt by... and for what purpose?

Lastly... if God wanted this person heard by even more people.... why would He not let that person be instrumental in growing a church even larger... in his own town.... instead.... this person brought division... not once... but several times.... and the proof is not debatable... or a matter of one version or the other regarding FACT.

Go in peace.... Godspeed.... but consider what you have revealed by your own words and perspective..... with the knowledge that you've told us you've known and have listened to this person for 25 years.

I'm not sure you realize what you have and haven't learned.

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 2:36 PM, Blogger C. Evan Leonard said...

Anonymous #100...

I was on staff at BCC from 1999 - 2001... three years and eleven days... actually...

I learned that before I came on staff there had been only a handful of people to come and go... for a variety of reasons... but I was told that several left due to issues they encountered with the leadership style and substance... and I really didn't think much of it at the time.... I was excited to be there and figured it was "those" people...

While I was there I witnessed 34 people leave... but only 3, that I know of, left for advancement or another position.... somewhere else...

As the staff changed from week to week and month to month... I was told or heard various things.... and many people left very quietly.... but it was hard to ignore the hurt and demoralizing nature of constant staff attrition....

Since 2001.... there has been a continued and significant exodus of staff... as well as a boatload of long standing members of the church congregation... migrating to other churches

Again, for a variety of reasons... but more often than not... due to the issues that ultimately brought about the dismissal of the founding pastor.

I have a list that hit 53 staff alone... as of this year... so, over a period of about 7 1/2 years.... there was a very obvious and unhealthy exodus of staff and I believe in the vicinity of 300-500 previous church members and attenders.... up until now...

According to various sources.... the number of people that appear to be migrating with the dismissed founding pastor is 600... more or less.... I think that will be revised over time....

But none of the existing staff or elders left to follow him.... and in it's own way... that says all that needs to be said....

And, as Jared pointed out.... church splits are usually not as severe or catastrophic as some would think.... but they are painful and difficult for everyone....

I am returning... along with my family... to BCC... after 5 years... and I know of many others that are on their way back...

I hope that offers another perspective you didn't have....

C. Evan Leonard

 

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