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David Foster - Doing It Different ... Getting Results
Dr. David Foster moved to Nashville with his family in October of 1989 to plant BCC. He has served as pastor of churches in Kentucky, Tennessee, and that other state (Alabama). He has an M.Div from Mid America Baptist Theological Seminary, and his doctorate is from Reformed Theological Seminary.
Bellevue Community Church is an interdenominational, Christ-centered, people-loving, joy-filled, hope-giving church whose vision is the relentless, relational, and resourceful pursuit of helping people "find God, follow Christ, and be free to dream!"
Contact Info ...
Bellevue Community Church
8001 Highway 70S.
Nashville, TN 37221
(615) 662-6688 (FAX)
Web Site ...
TP: What is the thing with "HOPE PARK"?
Hope Park is the name we have given to the 280 acres on which our first phase facility has been built. We are starting to communicate Hope Park as a destination with regional appeal.
TP:Give us the basic background of Bellevue Bob. What kind of people are you reaching for the most part??
Bellevue Community Church was birthed out of the vision to build a church that would appeal to people who had given up on going to church but had not given up on finding God. The vision statement of our church is “The relentless, relational and resourceful pursuit of helping people find God, follow Christ and be free to dream.” At first, other churches were worried that we would pull people away from them, but after 10 years of ministry, still something around 63% of our people come out of the ranks of the nonchurched. The rest come from what we call the over-churched or under-churched. Our primary demographic is white collar, young professionals. A large portion of them are single, but probably a larger portion of young married couples. By in large these are people who are living hurried lives. They are looking for meaning and connection in their lives.
TP: BCC is a nondenom church that is known for very modern methods. How do you incorporate that modern style into your preaching approach?? Do you use multi-media, skits in preaching to prove points, etc, etc ... what keeps you creative??"
We started out referring to BCC as a nondenominational church and found out that in our area nondenominational was a synonym for anti-denominational. And since that was not our intention, we stopped using the word. We use inter-denominational which allows us to celebrate the best of all the religious backgrounds from which most of our people come.
One of the misconceptions of churches like BCC is that we are more creative than other churches. It is a myth that people who start seeker churches are super creative people. Many who start seeker churches are not creative at all. They are good copiers.
What is radically different about the new emerging churches is that we have the license to be creative. This new reality opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. We have total freedom to be creative which means that we can use dramas, dance, or different forms of multimedia; most of which we produce ourselves. We can do personal interviews, we can tape interviews, and we can do take-offs on TV programs.
It is amazing how creative you can become when you have kind of a carte blanche when it comes to using any means necessary to communicate the gospel. The golden rule of creativity is that your creativity must absolutely be a slave to the message you are trying to communicate. I’ve seen too many churches use creativity as a novelty. Creativity is only appropriate in any church as it leverages your ability to communicate the core message—the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
TP: You started BCC back in the late 80's early 90's, so you have been with them from the beginning. Where have you tried to take the church with your preaching?? What have you tried to build through the pulpit??
When I started the church back in October 1989, I thought I was getting involved in the act of building a contemporary organization. What I soon discovered was, that I was being given the opportunity of communicating the content of the gospel to many people for the first time.
The vast majority of churches on the landscape today are preaching a cultural from of Christian moralism, which is something like, “be good for goodness sake!” The goal of the gospel is not to become better, but rather to be made different. My one and only job is to communicate the gospel as clearly and compellingly as I can. I labor to translate it into terms that people can understand and make application to their daily lives. I focus on how I can cooperate with God and the Holy Spirit to communicate a “360 degree gospel” to a world that thinks the church knows only two words—no, no!
TP: Church has changed some since the 90's, and changes still. Where do you want to go with your preaching ministry in the next 10 years?? What do you want to build in the future, and how do you plan on using your preaching ministry to do it??
One of the things the last 10 years has allowed me to do, is to become a student of the Emerging Church in America. And while there are no two great churches that are alike in their methods, all great churches have one distinct similarity and that is the ability to capture the attention of culture and focus it on the claims of Jesus Christ. The message of grace is very powerful.
I am in the communication side of the gospel. My job is not in sales. My job is to say it and it is the Holy Spirit’s job to sell by bringing about conviction and conversion. And so my effort in changing my communicating style is not to revert back to preaching, which most thinking people today dismiss as moralistic finger pointing. It is an effort to go beyond simplistic formulas and onto straight talk about complex issues that people face 24, 7, 365.
I ask myself the question, “if I were dragging myself in here either on Saturday night or Sunday after working hard to pay my bills and meet my deadlines and raise my children, what would I need to hear and why would any of this stuff matter to me?”
TP: Out of curiosity, are there any issues you just simply avoid preaching on?? (Maybe teach on them in other settings, but just not on Sunday??) (An example would be sex - not the sinful kind, but intimacy with the spouse. Many guys just won't touch it from the pulpit) If so, why??
One of the persistent misunderstandings about the emerging church movement is that all we are about is trying to attract a crowd by telling people what we think they want to hear. I see my job as telling people what God wants them to hear in a way they can hear it.
Because the gospel covers all of life there is no subject that I would avoid. There are issues that are more appropriate at other times especially when they are the subjects that would apply to a total Christian audience such as baptism and communion. We don’t practice either one of these on the weekend, but reserve them for our WOW (Worship On Wednesday) service.
Hot-button issues such as sex and money are the very things that you need to be open and honest about. As a communicator of the gospel, there is no subject no matter how painful, that I have to avoid if the time and the context is right for the subject to be brought up. One of the objections that a lot of people have about church is that “we know what you’re against is there anything that you are for?”
TP: Many young pastors/teachers visit this site. What advice would you give
to help them over the long haul of the years to try and "finish well",
especially with their preaching ministry??
One, nothing and I do mean nothing, takes the place of preparation. Though you may think you’re gifted enough to stand up and talk without preparation—you’re not. And you may think that you’ve fooled people, but—you haven’t.
Two, You can’t give other people a drink of water if you’re trying to draw it from a dry well. I’m learning more and more of the importance of trying to speak out of the overflow. This is not content preparation. It is the preparation of me as the speaker.
Three, I would say slow down. You’ve got a long haul in front of you. Don’t be in such a hurry to get there, wherever "there" is. If you can’t enjoy the journey, you certainly will not enjoy the destination.
Four, doing ministry alone is very dangerous. It’s important to have strong, supportive relationships around you and it’s also important to go out and ask for advice.
Five, always be teachable. Ask a lot of questions especially the dumb ones.
TP: How do you measure feedback?? That is, what methods do you use to see if
your preaching is hitting your target audience??
The number one thing I want to know is, “is there significant life change happening in the lives of people? Are people bringing people? Are they excited about coming? Is there a buzz around the services?” No matter how great the music is and the videos are and the dramas are, at the end of the day, people come to church to hear great communicators move them with passion into the presence of God.
We have, for years, passed out evaluation cards as people come in to each one of the weekend services with no place for their name, and asked them to critique the service including what they heard. Feedback is incredibly important and everyone needs it. Without it you’ll drift or you’ll go down a road that you think that’s effective but you can end up with a total disconnect from people.
TP: What do you love most about preaching??
What I love most about preaching is the impact that it has on people when it’s done correctly. When I started out, I loved preaching because it made me feel good. I went through a period in seminary and graduate school where I loved studying because it made me sound intelligent. Today, I am awed by the power that preaching has to bring people into a life-changing relationship with Jesus.
My passion for speaking has moved from enjoying the act of it to celebrating the art of it. I remind myself each weekend that I am a “professional reminder.” I remind our staff that, for us, every weekend is a Super Bowl weekend. At each service there will be people who will be there for the first time and the last time. They deserve to see us at our best and have an experience that puts God and the gospel in the best possible light. We want them to be able to say at the end of the day—Yea God! Count me in!
*Dr. Foster, bottom left corner, in a "staff meeting"