Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mars Hill Church Pastor Tim Beltz and qualifications for executive eldership under pre-11-07-2007 by-laws


Section C
The executive elder team shall consist of men who meet the following criteria in addition to the qualifications and duties of an elder outlined in Article I:
* The elder must be a full-time employee of Mars Hill Church
* The elder must have served as an elder for at least one year [emphasis added]
* The elder must nominate himself for consideration to be a member of the executive elder team
* The elder must receive a two-thirds vote of approval by all elders
* If more than seven men meet these criteria, then those seven men receiving the highest number of votes will be accepted
* If there is a tie among two or more men for the seventh seat on the lead elder team, a new vote will be taken by all elders (on only the seventh position) with the man receiving the highest vote total being appointed to the lead elder team. 


In October 2007, Tim was ordained at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA and served as the executive pastor until November 2010 when he became pastor of operations. [emphasis added] As executive pastor, his responsibilities included overseeing the financial, HR, legal, technology and capital programs for the church. He transitioned off staff July 2011 and now serves as an unpaid elder at MHC West Seattle and as a member of the MHC Board of Elders. Tim is a faculty member at the MHC Re:Train program and regularly presents workshops at regional and national executive pastor seminars and conferences.

Tim has extensive executive experience in the non-profit, public and private sectors...7 years as a CEO and 8 years as a COO. From 2003-2007 he was the executive vice president and COO of CRISTA Ministries, a North Seattle-based Christian organization of nearly 2,000 employees and a $170M annual budget...the 2nd largest non-profit in the state. [emphasis added]

There are two basic questions here.  First, for how long was Tim Beltz employed as a pastor at Mars Hill when he nominated himself to be an executive elder?  In order to be an executive elder he had to have been a pastor for a year before nominating himself.   Second, was Tim Beltz a full-time employee of Mars Hill Church at the time he nominated himself?

According to the by-laws in effect before November 1, 2007 an executive elder had to be a full-time employee of Mars Hill Church.  He also had to have served as an elder for at least one year.  Prior to being an executive elder at Mars Hill Tim Beltz was Chief Operations Officer at CRISTA Ministries.  When was he going to have found time to have been a full-time employee of Mars Hill Church?  He could have conceivably been an elder for a year up to that point but nowhere does Beltz say he was a pastor at Mars Hill prior to immediately becoming an executive elder.  Was Beltz aware that the by-laws of the time made it impossible for him to just jump straight into being executive elder out the gate?


Tim Beltz has a diverse background with 7 years experience as a CEO and 9 years as a COO in leading military, business, and non-profit organizations ranging in size from 8 local staff to 1,900 spread around the world. Since 2006, he founded and operates 10 Talents Consulting.

He currently serves as the Executive Pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, Washington - one of the fastest growing and most innovative mega churches within the United States. He oversees Human Resources, Finance, Legal, Technology, Logistics and campus launch functions.

Prior to that, he served as the COO of CRISTA Ministries, a large faith-based and multi-faceted organization in Shoreline, Washington, where he oversaw the operations of 10 ministries and Human Resources. [emphasis added] Tim also served 25 years in the US Coast Guard where he attained the rank of O-6, commanded multiple units and served as the Special Assistant to the US Secretary of Transportation.

Again, you can't be the Chief Operations Officer at CRISTA Ministries and oversee the operations of 10 ministries as well as human resources in a ministry that size while being a full-time employee at Mars Hill Church.  Now if he quit his job and were a full-time employee, okay.

Now on July 30, ,2006 Mark Driscoll preached the sermon "One Body, Many Parts" and discussed how through CRISTA Mars Hill got a fantastic rent-free deal to use Schirmer Auditorium. Tim Beltz was Chief Operations Officer of CRISTA at that time. 

Now in Driscoll's account of Beltz joining in "The Rebel's Guide to Joy in Humility" Beltz proposed to work 50 hours a week for six months free of charge.  He also proposed to quit his well-paying job, shut down most of his consulting business, and nominate himself for eldership.  He also agreed to submit to Jamie Munson and work for free for six months.  Whether or not the first and second six month sequence counted as one year of being a pastor would be something others can clarify.  Perhaps that counted?

But the by-laws stated that to be eligible for executive eldership the man had to be a full-time employee of the church.  Working 50 hours a week for free wouldn't really count, would it?  The man also has to have been a pastor for at least a year BEFORE being eligible so Beltz couldn't have been working fifty hours a week for free at MH while still being Chief Operations Officer for CRISTA. Nobody can do that.  What Driscoll describes as being pretty neat had absolutely no way of conforming to the by-laws that were still in effect prior to November 1, 2007.

Of course Driscoll preached "Joy in Humility" November 4, 2007 just after those newer by-laws got approved.  But when Beltz was ordained in October 2007 as an executive elder it would have been impossible for him to be have been regarded as qualified at that point based on what the by-laws required.  If it were possible perhaps someone can explain that. It would have been impossible for Beltz to have done the six months of free work and working for free would not have made him an employee qualified to be self-nominating into an executive elder role.  Retroactively crediting a year's time of pastoring at Mars Hill just wouldn't have worked.  It may have been what was applied to Beltz after the Munson-drafted by-laws were passed but those were not the by-laws in force when Beltz was ordained.

It's not clear whether there were at least four executive elders in place in September 2007 at the point when Mars Hill made a bid on Tabella of some kind.  There may, in fact, have only been two executive elders in place at the time. It is also not clear how Tim Beltz could have qualified to be an executive elder in October 2007 pretty much instantly.  He'd attended Mars Hill for about four years and that while Chief Operations Officer at CRISTA Ministries.  Who brokered the rent-free access Mars Hill got to Schirmer Auditorium?  Driscoll never seems to have answered that question.  It was cool to share about getting rent-free access to Schirmer and it was cool to mention that Tim Beltz became an executive elder in 2007 in "Joy in Humility" but it does matter who brokered that rent-free deal.  Was Tim Beltz in any way involved in that rent-free deal?

On what basis was Beltz qualified under the by-laws in force at the time to be an executive elder in October 2007? We know he nominated himself but who told him that under the by-laws in force at that time that he was in any way qualified? If Beltz was told by someone he was qualified to be an executive elder in 2007 we don't know who made that case, but in 2006-2007 Beltz might not have been the only man who got the idea to nominate himself when he may not have been considered completely qualified, yet, to be a pastor at MHC at the time of his self-nomination.  

Solemnly stating what is and isn't permitted members of Mars Hill in a membership covenant only works if the covenant gets enforced in a clear and consistent manner.  For instance, if a person were a member of Mars Hill Church in any capacity and a pastor at some other church that would be a problem.  It would be a breach of the MHC member covenant.  Is it the case in even one instance?  If it were then it could establish a question of consistency and application regarding the membership covenant.

Lengthy statements from a church about all the checks and balances in place and having by-laws are only meaningful and reassuring if there's an established record of the institution actually operating in conformity to those by-laws and if those checks and balances mean something.  In the cases of Mars Hill Church purchasing Tabella and Tim Beltz being installed, it seems, immediately as an executive elder at Mars Hill Church in October 2007 without pre-amble, it's not clear that the by-laws were being observed at that time.

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