Archive for April 13, 2010

“Oh, how the mighty have fallen.”

Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral now $65 million in debt

Ironic, no?

It’s a quote of the dramatic many equate to some movie from the roaring 20s or some such, but not so fast. It’s actually one of the plethora of pop culture references that are really biblical writ.

The passage is from 2 Samuel 1:25 and it could so be the headline for many ills plaguing the Church today.

Take the plight of Robert Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral.

We have gone from Elder Schuller kicking his son clean out of the pulpit to the entire ministry being on its last gems dealing with $65 million in debt.

And now, according to the Orange County Register, some of those vendors are demanding their share of what’s left in the offering plate:

Over the last two months, three businesses, including an equipment financing company and two television stations, have filed lawsuits against the Crystal Cathedral stating that the megachurch owes them more than $2 million for services rendered. Several vendors who provided their services during the church’s “Glory of Christmas” pageant also came forward last month saying that they are owed tens of thousands of dollars.

I have worked with enough megachurches to know this is a rather unfortunate, but never-ending, trend. There is this feeling of “God will cover our bills… and our vendors” brooding in churches everywhere in this great land of ours, and most of that mentality finds a delta in the pastor’s office.

Although I am so completely resisting the yearn to hyperlink here, I know of one in particular that held a Christmas lights parade, signed a contract for the generators and never paid because (and this is a direct quote) “God wanted us to have this parade and he used that company to bring it.”

The ticket cost? More than $150,000.

From marketing to missions, the path to hell is not lined with good intentions. It’s unpaid vendor’s invoices from churches.

I wish I knew why this sanctimonious, impious attitude takes place, but despite the churches that do pay their bills, they are a barrel full of monkeys that don’t and just fling poo at the phone every time it rings.

Robert Schuller is now the 800 pound gorilla in the IRS room, and so, he sends his baby girl to do his bidding: beg for mercy.

Leaders of a financially distressed Crystal Cathedral met with vendors and creditors Friday morning to discuss possible debt payments, according to a statement issued by the megachurch’s current leader, Shiela Schuller Coleman, daughter of Cathedral founder, Robert H. Schuller.The purpose of the meeting was to gather all these vendors, suppliers and friends into one place and apologize for the delinquency of the accounts that we currently have with them,” Coleman said in her issued statement.

In the words of a sage sports prophet,Juuuuuuust a bit outside.”

MEMO to the Schullers – and any other pastors who enjoy fleecing vendors: “God bless you” don’t pay the bills!

You can’t call up the phone company and tell the man, “Um, please don’t turn off my cell. I need it for business. And besides, Robert Schuller asked for my forgiveness. Now you can’t shut off my… (dial tone)…” Don’t you think this mindless charade of an apology was a skosh overdue?

Vendors who attended Friday morning’s meeting said they had no idea there were so many creditors. When asked, cathedral administrators told them that there are as many as 185 creditors waiting in line to be paid.

That’s a lot of people wearing blind man glasses holding the ubiquitous pencil coffee cup saying, “Brother, can you spare a dime?”

And it’s not any fault of the people who call that church ‘home.” Their tithes and offerings go there. Their service is there. Yet, that money stays there. Well, at least it used to before a cavalcade of attorneys came walking down the aisle looking for a handout.

Maybe if that would have happened sooner, the church would still be open and vendors would have their bills paid for services rendered. You know, like they do in the real world. And folk say megachurches don’t need to be run like a business. Stories like this beg to differ.

Advertisements