One of my mentors in ministry, David Foster, passed away in his sleep yesterday at the age of 58.
Dave could be, well, hard to handle - he was the first to admit he didn't have the gifting or the patience for counseling. (I heard him say more than once that his first hire at BCC had to be someone who could do counseling because five minutes after someone came into his office he wanted to slap his hand down on the desk & tell them to "Quit whining! Here's what you should do!") I wasn't around for the end of his time at BCC/Hope Park - by that time, I was here in Fresno & out of touch with Dave - but it wasn't a complete surprise that he could get sideways with folks over vision & direction.
It also wasn't a surprise that he stayed in ministry - that he kept trying to reach people who had given up on the church. His heartbeat was people who'd been marginalized by religiosity - not surprising, considering that the local SBC association had shined him on for funding because he wouldn't do things "by the book" when he worked to plant BCC. (Note: the folks in leadership now at Nashville Baptist Association are NOT the same people - in fact, there were some amazing & godly movement on the part of the association leadership & Dave to reconcile and forgive while I was meeting with him.)
At the same time, here's a guy who was busy pastoring a big church (2000+ at the time he & I were meeting together) and yet took time to talk with & encourage a church planter (me) who was ecstatic if we had 50 folks on a Sunday morning. It meant the world to me (and to the many other church planters he championed) that his vision was bigger than than BCC.
I will never forget running into him at a Willow Creek conference in Chicago - not expecting to see him there, not expecting him to plop down with his box lunch at the table with Shari & I and talk with us when there were so many "big deal" pastors around. I distinctly remember him saying: "You look at all this [pointing out the huge facilities, the food court, the bookstore, etc.] and think: 'if my church was bigger, it would solve all the problems we're having.' And you're partially right - the problems you're struggling with will fade as you have more people... but you'll just get a new set of even more difficult problems. And that transition will keep happening over & over again as you grow."
Please pray for his wife & kids... for his church (The Gathering) and for the many people whose lives he touched as we all grieve his loss.
Thanks, Dave... part of the reason I'm the pastor that I am is you.
For more information about Dave, here's the link to the article about his death from The Tennessean.