Thursday, December 11, 2014

Partial Redemption: Three Elders from Coast Hills Church Share Positive Impressions of Ex-Pastor

Last night, about 25 folks from Coast Hills Church met with three members of the board of elders at a private home in Laguna Niguel. They were there to justify their decision to fire pastor Ken Baugh. Ironically, they ended up releasing information regarding their own bylaw violations along with positive information that reinforced the case that they unjustly dismissed Baugh.  


The elders at the meeting included Greg Holmes, Bill Nixon and Rhoads Martin. One of those questions brought up the issue of term limits for elder board members. At Coast Hills Church, elders are limited to two (2) three (3) year terms. The elders indicated that they have not been following these regulations. The Coast Hills Church website, by the way, indicates that Gary Luke, a roofing contractor, has served as the chairman of the elder board for at least 12 consecutive years.  

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For a quick look at what Ken Baugh is doing for our community right now, please check out the website for his The Institute for Discipleship Training. This website will show you the wonderful creativity, compassion for others, and intense scholarship which informs Baugh's ministry even today.

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As far as I am concerned, the failure of the board of elders - including Gary Luke - to follow and enforce our church's bylaws is a terrible sin. It strikes me as a sign of considerable arrogance. For the elders at this meeting to suggest that their selfish desire to hold on to power over the rest of us - in violation of the Coast Hills Community Church bylaws - is somehow consistent with God's will is too bizarre to consider from a Biblical perspective. 

The good news for Baugh is that the elders saw absolutely nothing wrong with his service morally, ethically, or spiritually. In fact, they liked him so much that they even considered giving him a lower paying "teaching only" job. This is quite interesting since the Bible tells us that teaching is the primary skill required of church leaders. See, 1 Timothy 5:17 English Standard Version (ESV) which states:
Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
Another bit of good news for Baugh is he had surprised them with his performance in the job of senior pastor. Initially, the elders had only expected him to last two years on the job. This was due to the challenge of taking over church leadership from the charismatic Denny Bellisi. Apparently, Baugh's level of success as both a manager and teacher impressed them. They kept Baugh on for almost a decade.

In general, the feedback I have received from those who attended this meeting is that they were still disappointed by the elder board's decision. For example, I received the following note from one of the attendees:
We are still stunned by the abrupt announcement and loss of an excellent pastor/teacher. Even after a meeting with three of the elders last night at our D-Group, (we) are not convinced of any solid basis for this decision. Trusting that God has better plans for Ken, and that we can continue to learn from his deep knowledge of the Word. In the meantime, I'm on Yelp looking for a new church that has similar substance to continue to inspire our Christian walk.
At the meeting, the grief over the loss of Baugh was painfully apparent. A number of people were openly crying. One lady expressed sorrow about Ken Baugh's absence, and said she only wished that she could have had a chance to say goodbye to him before he left. Among those who found solace in this gathering, I can report that they are grateful these three elder board members seemed to be open to new ideas and improved communications.  

For now, however, it is plain to me that the elder board does not understand that they made a devastating mistake. 

As a former business school professor, it strikes me that they are relying on magical thinking to distract themselves from the painful reality that they did immense damage to Baugh's national reputation by abruptly and recklessly dismissing him. Through this decision, they humiliated a beloved pastor and permanently scarred his national reputation. They also gravely harmed Coast Hills Church as an institution. They sent an unfortunate message that they apparently have as little respect for their pastors as they do for their bylaws.

Coast Hills is not a cult. In my view, the fact that the elder board is violating the portion of God's truth contained in the Coast Hills Church bylaws is cause for the rest of us to demand their immediate resignations. Rule breakers like Gary Luke and his fellow elders are bad examples to the rest of us. They are unworthy of leading our church. If they insist that breaking the rules is the new normal, then I will not be eating any of that elder chili.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Not So Good: Thoughts on Resisting Arrest


I have been pondering how our society is supposed to be able to function in an environment where we teach young black boys and girls that it is okay to resist arrest. This seems like a crucial issue right now given the rioting and protests associated with two black fellows, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both of whom resisted lawful arrest.

It turns out that there is some constitutional law out there which defends our right to resist "unlawful" arrest. It is worth reading here.

Apparently, this is a real issue and a ton of African-Americans seem to think it is okay to resist arrest. For example, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did a study in 2008 and asserted that within the city of Seattle, "African-Americans were arrested for the sole crime of obstructing eight times as often as whites when population is taken into account." See, Nalder, Eric; Kamb, Lewis; Lathrop, Daniel (2008-02-28). "Blacks are arrested on 'contempt of cop' charge at higher rate". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 


According to the paper, they treated an obstructing arrest as "stand-alone" if that was the only charge or if all other charges were for closely related offenses, such as resisting arrest. By this standard, the number of black men who faced stand-alone obstructing charges during the six-year period reviewed was equal to nearly 2 percent of Seattle's black male population.

I think this pattern is the result of a dysfunctional culture in the African-American community that teaches it is okay, even right, to resist arrest. I'm afraid we are going to see a lot more stories along the lines of Michael Brown and Eric Garner unless we make significant efforts to change this culture so that it respects the authority of police officers.One place to start might be to change the way police officers are portrayed in rap or hip hop music.

Here's an incredible video of a black police officer who has apparently gotten caught up in gangsta culture. It is a striking indication of how deep this sickness in black culture goes.

If we are going to have an intelligent conversation about race in this country, then one of the top topics need to be how do we go about stopping cultural trends which make it acceptable to resist arrest.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.