Sunday, June 03, 2012

Mars Hill Shoreline and Pastor Tim Beltz

Mars Hill Shoreline and Pastor Tim Beltz

by Pastor AJ Hamilton
In early 2006, Mars Hill first became a multi-site church when we launched the Shoreline campus with live-streaming over the Web. This meant that at times, the sermon would look like a badly dubbed Samurai movie or Pastor Mark's image would explode into a messy digital kaleidoscope of color. We also increased the number of elders from 15 to 24, adding Pastors James Noriega and Bill Clem from Doxa (a former A29 church plant that is now our West Seattle campus). Campus planting took off for a season and BellevueDowntown, Olympia and Federal Way launched and continue to grow, relaunch into new facilities and plan for further expansion through new works. 

As important as the acquisition of West Seattle was for Mars Hill’s path to multisite the first step was what is now Mars Hill Shoreline.  The first reference I could find (and there may be earlier ones) to what has become Mars Hill Shoreline shows up here. This is the same sermon in which Driscoll mentioned the acquisition of what is now Mars Hill West Seattle and, with it, the pastoral leadership of Pastor Bill Clem and now former pastor James Noriega.

Part 26: One Body, Many parts
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Pastor Mark Driscoll
July 30, 2006

There is the building a block away. We purchased it a year ago. It was heading into foreclosure. We purchased it for under market value. It has increased in value since that time, and this is just some interior and exterior shots of the space, and our plan was to turn that into a large room to see maybe 800 to 1,000 people. And so, what we have instead decided to do, first, we’re going to keep that building – and it’s been great – ‘cause according to King 5 television, they had a report that said that 98105, which is this zip code, is one of the five fastest, increasing valued zip codes in the State of Washington. Since we bought that building, as it was going to foreclosure, we already have gained a million dollars in equity in that building. We have no intention of getting rid of it, but here’s what we do want to do with it. We want to knock half the building down and just turn it into parking to increase our parking capacity. Secondly, the other half of the building – we don’t feel that we have to use right now because of some other things that have come available that we’re gonna tell you about – but we’re gonna keep it. We’ll rent it out with the hopes that a tenant will pay most of our mortgage. We can keep it then, and then if we ever do wanna build on it, we can develop it and do whatever we want with it but we feel it’s important right now to watch and see what happens with this neighborhood, particularly what happens to parking, and then make a determination down the road as to best use.

And the reason that we don’t need to develop it as we had thought is because of some other things have come available. Among those is Shoreline and these are some shots from the Shoreline campus and where we are meeting at Christa Ministries, at Shermer Auditorium. Four hundred seats, plus a full daycare. It’s amazing kid space. Huge gym for the kids to run around in. Lots of parking. They’re letting us use that on Sunday and now this fall for beginning, for midweek programming for nothing. It’s free. We don’t even pay for janitorial, we don’t even pay for utilities. It is a savings of over $100,000.00 a year. We can be there for two more years. It’s a savings of 200 plus thousand dollars. We love Christa. We’re very, very grateful for their kindness to us. Eventually, we will need to purchase a permanent site for our Shoreline. We’ll need to get them a permanent purchase campus, ‘cause we can only be there for two years. I mean, wouldn’t it be great if somebody let you have the house for two years for free? I mean that’s a very kind gift, so we are actively looking for another place to buy.

I must note at the outset that this sermon transcript has several easily verifiable misspellings.  Even when you use primary sources you need to be careful.  What in the transcript is spelled “Christa” is really CRISTA.  What is spelled “Shermer” in the transcript is really Schirmer Auditorium.  These are not small details in terms of actual names, though it’d be easy for a casual reader who is unfamiliar with the Puget Sound area to overlook these points.

Yet despite spelling mistakes, the basic claim that CRISTA ministries gave Mars Hill a rent free opportunity to use Schirmer Auditorium seems to be correct.  CRISTA is a ministry and a ministry like CRISTA giving Mars Hill a couple of years of rent free access to Schirmer Auditorium is, as Driscoll put it in this sermon, a remarkable deal.  How and why did a ministry like CRISTA give Mars Hill years of rent-free access to Schirmer Auditorium? I don’t mean the “it’s all about Jesus” reason, I mean "who was actually in a position to broker the arrangement personally or had the connections to set up the rent-free arrangement?”
Well, what about Tim Beltz?

Puget Sound Business Journal
Tuesday June 20, 2006
"The larger adoption agencies may be the only organizations able to survive in this arena. Time will tell," said Tim Beltz, executive vice president of Crista Ministries, in a statement.

Tim Beltz was quoted in the Puget Sound Business Journal article regarding the closing of New Hope Adoption agency. Beltz, as you can see, was referred to as executive vice president of Crista Ministries in June 20, 2006.
This link is a profile from that is obvious out of date but it is also informative. Beltz was not just executive vice president of Crista Ministries, according to this biography.
Prior to joining the staff in 2007, he served as the Chief Operating Officer of CRISTA Ministries, and Executive Director of the Millionaire Club Charity serving homeless men and women.

Another link attesting to Beltz’ role as Chief Operating Officer of CRISTA Ministries is here:
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.

So if Tim Beltz were executive vice president in 2006 and also served as Chief Operating Officer of CRISTA he would seem to have been in a good position to set up the rent-free access to Schirmer Auditorium at the CRISTA facilities, wouldn’t he? The question at hand is did Tim Beltz set up the rent-free arrangement in which Mars Hill got to use Schirmer Auditorium at no charge? 
According to the old VoxPop Network listings about leadership Tim Beltz had been attending Mars Hill for four years.  The earliest screen capture The WayBack Machine was able to pull is here:

So if this is accurate it indicates that in May 07, 2008 Tim Beltz was mentioned as having attended Mars Hill for four years.  He would have started attending sometime in 2004 then.
So if Driscoll established in his July 30, 2006 sermon that CRISTA Ministries was letting Mars Hill use the Schirmer Auditorium free of charge for a couple of years and Tim Beltz was mentioned as having attended Mars Hill for four years in 2008 then this means Tim Beltz was attending Mars Hill for a few years while also Chief Operations Officer and executive vice president of CRISTA Ministries, wouldn’t it?

Now on November 4, 2007 Mark Driscoll preached the sermon “The Rebel’s Guide to Joy in Humility”. In this sermon he referred to a couple of men who became pastors. One of them was James Noriega who had recently been promoted to the Board of Directors and placed in charge of alcohol and recovery group ministries.  James Noriega and Bill Clem played important roles in getting the property that is now Mars Hill West Seattle to Mars Hill in 2006.

In the sermon excerpt below Driscoll describes Tim and the Tim in question
Another man we appointed to that board is a man names Tim. I’ll tell you his story. He has an MBA in not-for-profit management. He has 20 or 30 years, I can’t remember, of not-for-profit manage experience. He’s run some very large, very significant ministries. He’s consulted for very large, very significant ministries. He nominated himself for eldership. Was a faithful member of this church. And he said, “You know, I think I can help. I think my management background will help organize Mars Hill.” We said, “Okay, well what’s your proposal?” He said, “I’ll work 50 hours a week for six months free of charge. I’ll quit my well paying job. I’ll shut down most of my consulting business. I’ll reduce my expenses, live off of my savings. I’ll nominate myself for eldership. I will work for free for six months, and I’ll come under Pastor Jamie, who’s young enough to be my son, and has none of the experience or education that I do so that I can humbly serve him so that Mars Hill can become a better church.”

God opposes the proud. Gives grace to the humble. The elders vote and say, “He should be an Executive Elder and on the Board of Directors.”

So the elders voted this Tim to be an Executive Elder and on the Board of Directors?  Which elders voted that way?  There’s no room for doubt at this point that the “Tim” Driscoll has been referring to was Tim Beltz.

... Not all of these men are paid staff. Executive Elders – A sub-team of the Board of Directors who serve as the leadership team of Mars Hill. The Executive Elders are responsible for the day-to-day leadership, management, and oversight of Mars Hill. At present, the Executive Elders are: Jamie Munson, Mark Driscoll, Scott Thomas, Bubba Jennings, and Tim Beltz (read more about them here).

December 21, 2008
Part 4: Generous (Part 2B)
Pastor Driscoll: Along that line, what I wanted to do is bring out Pastor Jamie Munson (your lead pastor), Pastor Tim Beltz (your executive pastor), and I wanted them to describe to you kind of where we’re at, where we’re going, what we’re doing. A little bit of business, and then we’ll sing some Christmas songs.

Hey guys, you want to take it, buddy? Maybe introduce Tim. You guys all know who Jamie is, right? Lead pastor – was up last week? Yes? No? You guys know Jamie? Cool.

I don’t oversee the money. You don’t want me counting stuff, that’s for sure. I’m not a systems, policies, and procedures guy. These men have great skills, gifts, and abilities. And they run the administrative and stewardship load of Mars Hill. And so, rather than me making mistakes, I thought it’d just be best for them to let you know what’s going on.

Pastor Munson: Appreciate you guys making the hike in the snow. So, this is Pastor Tim Beltz. He’s the executive pastor of Mars Hill, a dear friend. He runs all of the operation side of what we do as a church. So, we’re a church, we’re about ministry, but we have to have budgets, we have to have buildings, we have to have staff, we have to have policies, procedures. Tim oversees all of that.
He has a lot of experience in nonprofit management. He was the chief operating officer at Crista Ministries, and the interim CEO up there for a number of years. He has an MBA. He’s overseen a $200 million budget in the nonprofit world. Lots of experience.

And so we brought him in about a year-and-a-half ago, to come on and oversee this area for us. He does a great job. I love working with him. A good man. So, I’m gonna turn it over to him to give you guys an inside look at some of the not-so-sexy part of Mars Hill, but the important part.
He keeps us out of jail. He does the good work, the hard work, to make sure we’re above reproach in a lot of those systems. So, I’ll let you kind of give us an overview of what does some of the financial accountability look like at Mars Hill?

Pastor Beltz: That’s a tough act to follow. Thank you. Just a couple of real quick points. We take this really seriously, the financial controls of the church. Our generosity as a – I’m a members of Mars Hill Church, obviously, and so it’s our generosity that really gives us an opportunity to be great stewards here at Mars Hill Church.

And so, just walking through this, the financial controls piece, it’s as simple as the two people that count the money and then deposit it. We have a chain of custody for that money, to make sure that there’s no opportunity for making errors or mistakes or having any problems.

It’s as complicated as having budget and expense reports that are reviewed at multiple levels of management. It’s also a system where Pastor Mark and Pastor Jamie, they don’t sign any checks. Their names aren’t on any of the accounts so that we can keep them above reproach, and that we can allow those who really enjoy doing those kind of things, and who are good at it, that we can.
Pastor Munson [from the same transcript]:
In addition, we’re gonna give $500,000.00 to our Shoreline campus, to help them find a permanent home. We launched that campus in January 2006, so this will be it’s third year. It really paved the way for the multisite movement of Mars Hill and allowed us to add other campuses. They were the guinea pigs in a lot of ways.

 We’re gonna give them half-a-million dollars and then raise some more money to then be able to go find a permanent home for them. They’re meeting right now on the campus of Crista Ministries, King Schools, up in the North End. We’d like to get them a permanent home.
 So, we wanted to bless them, get that fund started by giving them a half million.

This would fit with what Driscoll mentioned in the July 30, 2006 sermon about “two more years”. Everything seems to fit nicely post July 30, 2006, though it remains unanswered who brokered the Schirmer Auditorium rent free arrangement for Mars Hill and how.  It would seem like the most plausible candidate for that arrangement would have been Tim Beltz since he was Chief Operations Officer.

Tim Beltz now has a consulting firm which includes a biography. He mentions being ordained at Mars Hill Church in Seattle in October 2007. In fact I downloaded this document today and what do we find?

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. 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.

Did you see what I saw?  Mars Hill West Seattle.  This was true right up through February 27, 2012 when I blogged about the disappearance of James Noriega from the elder listings at Mars Hill.  Readers may recall that I quoted from Tim Beltz’ West Seattle pastor profile in which he mentioned that he’d been influenced and challenged by James Noriega’s biblical counseling materials. About a week after I blogged about Noriega’s disappearance campus blog links went dead, campus sites defaulted to calendars, and most peculiar of all, Tim Beltz was no longer listed at Mars Hill West Seattle but at Mars Hill Downtown. 

But in case anyone doubted the reliability of what I found in February 2012 Tim Beltz’ own biography at his consulting firm indicates (for now) that he’d been at Mars Hill West Seattle.  I don’t doubt that eventually Beltz will update his biography for his consulting firm to indicate that he’s currently at the Mars Hill Downtown campus.

So, that’s what I have been able to find about the development of the Shoreline campus at Mars Hill.  

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