Denny Bellesi Kingdom Assignment Ministry

Are You Ready for a Kingdom Assignment?

The resources are God's; the decision is yours. And as Pastor Denny Bellesi and his wife, Leesa, can tell you, the impact is bigger than you ever dreamed.

Following a sermon on stewardship, Denny Bellesi stunned his congregation by distributing $10,000 among one hundred volunteers and sending them on a "Kingdom Assignment" that has lit a spiritual blaze in their church, won the attention of the national media, and influenced hundreds of thousands of lives across their community and around the world.

There were three simple rules: The volunteers must recognize that the money was God's money. They must use it in ways that would extend his kingdom. And they must return in ninety days and tell what happened.

The results were astounding. The stories of how God blessed the creativity and faith of these kingdom recruits will move and inspire you. But that's just half the story. The Bellesis unlock the Scriptures to help you consider the possibilities for your own life. Whether it's money or abilities or life experiences, God has given you talents that he wants to multiply beyond your wildest imagination. The Kingdom Assignment will stir you to big dreams, big faith, big deeds . . . and a much bigger vision of how God can use you.

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Charismatic Caretaker: Denny Bellesi Back Temporarily at Coast Hills Church

Trish Drew, Denny Bellesi and
his grand-daughter at Coast
Hills Church on February 15, 2015.
It was a pleasure to see Denny Bellesi and his wife Leesa at Coast Hills Church this morning. As you may know, the misguided folks on the Elder Board at this church basically fired Denny and his wife after 20 years of service even though he had successfully led the church's growth from a handful of people in a living room to a 1,300 seat performing arts center in Aliso Viejo. Denny, of course, is most famous for his Kingdom assignment when, in 2001, he handed our $100 bills to 100 church members, explaining that their task was to enrich God by investing in the needy.

At the service this morning, Denny reminisced about the big risks and bold moves which took place at the founding and fueled the rapid growth of Coast Hills Church. From what I know about charismatic leaders, however, I suspect that Denny's willingness to roll the dice and trust in the Lord ended up being something of a liability after Coast Hills Church purchased its current somewhat over-sized facility. At that point, I suspect that the members of the elder board began to doubt whether faith alone could solve Coast Hills Church's mounting financial problems.

Denny, for his part, mentioned that after 20 years of service his seratonin levels had dropped to such a level that they would not bounce back, even after two years of rest. I took this as a casual reference to a possibly bad case of depression. I also saw it as a mature acceptance of the fact that nowadays serotonin levels are best maintained by doctor prescribed medications.

Ironically, Trish and I were there at Denny's last service at Coast Hills Church. I remember he baptized some folks that day and that he looked somewhat peeved and angry over the situation surrounding his leaving Coast Hills Church. I could not help but think it must be richly satisfying to know that the same folks who cut him loose ten years ago were now dependent on him to staunch the bleeding wounds of an obviously dysfunctional institution.

Trish was favorably impressed with Leesa's story and recounting of the adventures which had befallen them
Denny Bellesi led a chorus of
happy birthday for a 99
year-old church member.
as a couple over the last ten years. Leesa went out of her way to take a photo of the 11:00 a.m. crowd. It is a trophy that I think both of them richly deserve for their persistence and graciousness in the face of rather unforgivable mistreatment a decade ago. Denny himself still displays the charisma which inspired the creation of Coast Hills Church. He asked the members to imagine what it would be like to be a Roman soldier chained up with Paul for six hours and got a tremendous laugh.

As far as I can tell, Denny will be the interim pastor at least until the end of June. As a management consultant, however, I know that the abrupt and bizarre dismissal of Ken Baugh will have profound ramifications on the staff. I expect that two years into the services of the next pastor, Coast Hills Church staff will be a completely different set of people.

If you enjoy a little irony, you might want to hear Denny Bellesi's comments where he participated in the commissioning of Ken Baugh as the new senior pastor on December 5, 2005. Notice Denny's shout-outs to Gary Luke and Bill Nixon two guys who are still serving on the board of elders today and to the NASA level consultant, John Holborn, who advised in the transition from Denny Bellesi to Ken Baugh. Denny encouraged Ken to keep growing and reminded everyone that Ken was not perfect. Denny charged the congregation at that time to pray for their new pastor, to bolster his confidence, and to communicate with him.

Denny called on the members of the church to pray for 100 days in a row about the future of the church. Personally, I am happy to take on that challenge. My recommendations for change are straightforward:

1. Enforce the Bylaws: All elder board members who are currently serving in violation of the Coast Hills Church bylaws need to resign immediately.

2. Remove Poor Leaders: Elder board chairman, Gary Luke, must also resign due to his failure to keep the bylaws and the role he played in the awkward mismanagement of the effort to lay-off Ken Baugh.

3. Improve Sound Quality: Tell the technical department to add sound baffles to the performing arts center to improve the awful acoustics of the place.

4. Eliminate the Glare on the Stage: Tell the technical department to stop shining lights in our eyes when we are trying to appreciate the performances on stage. Bright lights may look pretty from the control room, but they give headaches to the sensitive people who deal with the glare.

Accordingly, I do not think that Coast Hills Church can make any progress until it roots out the leaders who have showed little compassion for Ken Baugh and his family while demonstrating zero respect for the bylaws they are supposed to follow and embrace as checks on their own power. Frankly, unless there is complete change among the members of the elder board, I do not think Coast Hills Church has the moral authority to go on. Without change at the top, they might as well call a realtor and see how they can cash out of their current building before it is too late. In the meantime, I will be praying that Denny Bellesi uses his influence to restore the rule of law at Coast Hills Church.


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