Posts Tagged ‘crystal cathedral’

A look inside of the Crystal Cathedral

File Chapter 11 and this is what a church probably looks like, from the inside out

News hailing from the Orange County Weekly and Reuters reports what we only knew was just a fleeting moment away: the nation’s first megachurch, the Crystal Cathedral, has filed Chapter 11.

Crystal Cathedral Ministries, founded by Dr. Robert Schuller, best known for its weekly “Hour of Power” television program that it claims has 20 million viewers, listed assets and debts of between $50 million and $100 million each, according to documents filed on Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, California. Its largest creditors include several U.S. television stations.

What began as a sticky family divorce is now a nasty separation of church and state. Pity.

This is a guy who created more than a trend; he established the genesis of the modern church – run like a business, looks like a corporation and “feels” like a church. Oh yeah, that one.

There is a microcosm forming here, only I wish more megachurch pastors would pay attention the tsunami it is creating. I’ve thought about it, and typed as much for years, but I will cite a source from the OC Weekly instead:

Maybe if Schuller had ditched the endless tours and paid more attention to his church, the Crystal Cathedral wouldn’t be in this situation today. Or maybe he understood that it’s Christ’s message that’s more important, not so much paying bills on time.

MEMO to the Elder Schuller: You know, if  you weren’t kicking your son out of the pulpit, making your church into an Amway convention, skipping town on your bills and deciding the only way to save the place is give those same tired motivational messages (instead of sticking to the power of the Gospel that got you there in the first place), perhaps you would still have a church.

However, there you are blaming the recession or whatever else sounds biblical in the face of a tragic decline in giving and church participation. Take it from all the talking heads on the national networks. These are the days of a persnickety shopper. If you don’t give them a reason to invest their money, they won’t.

Moral of the story? The secondary opportunities that come up as a result of your ministry are just that – secondary.

Tend to the greater vision at hand and all those other things will happen. Don’t worry about sheering out a TBN contract when you should have been tending to your flock. Oh, and your family.

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Robert Schuller is rumored to leave his empty Crystal Cathedral

Pretty, ain't it? Pretty empty. (Crickets)

What began as a messy divorce between father and son, debt at Crystal Cathedral causing the lights to get cut off and then Dad thinking his son can do his own power thing and Girl Schuller can do it, has now led to this:

Dad is “retiring”. Or is he?

The entire drama, which is sure to be Made-for-Lifetime movie, began with an AP article (seen here in the New York Times) announcing the silver-haired preacher hanging up the robe.

Mr. Schuller, 83, told his congregation that his daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, will become the lead pastor, after sharing that role with him for the last year.

So, basically this is code for “My ministry is in the toilet, ratings are bad and I’m no longer relevant so… here you go baby girl, enjoy keeping the lights on.”

And yes, note there is no word from Junior Schuller in this article who is still channel surfing at the American Life Network. (Anyone? Anything? Yeah, me neither. Heck, DISH network hasn’t even heard of it. Good on ya’, bubba.)

Back to the story.

After this story traveled like a debt collectors calls throughout the indebted Crystal Cathedral across the ecumenical media, Girl Schuller decided to put the kibosh on this kerfuffle with her own release to the Los Angeles Times:

Crystal Cathedral’s senior pastor Sheila Coleman expressed outrage in an interview Sunday after rumors spread across the media and Internet that her father, famed televangelist Robert H. Schuller, was stepping down. “Dad is not retiring,” she said. “I told [the congregation] that Dad’s role would not be changing and mine would not be changing.”

Doh! Now what? Granted, this was the first megachurch, the trendsetter. And Elder Schuller, while not so much in the Dear Ol’ Dad department is iconic in the church world. But why stay at 83? Keep him in charge of the fledgling ministry for what reason again?

“It’s irresponsible journalism that nobody asked me to clarify,” Coleman said. “It’s troubling because we have a lot of viewers all over the world thinking: ‘My pastor’s leaving.'”

Sure you do… if you mean, one person in New Guinea, a family of four in Madagascar and a clan of vagabonds who traveled to the church to hear him in speak back in 1984 that live in Duluth, Minnesota… then, yes, all over the world. (Wink. Wink.)

Because, last I heard, you were $65 million in debt and fighting off law suits from creditors like attendants at the World Cup fighting off going to the ENT doctor. (Those Vuvuzelas will be the cause of at least 18 people going deaf this year alone. Oy!)

Relic or real need. Robert Schuller is not retiring.

Don't call it a comeback!

But meh? There could be many reasons for the drop off in ratings, viewers and donations, right?

According to the story, church officials blame some of their troubles on an aging congregation and sluggish economy. They insist that a survey of members showed that the departure of the younger Schuller had no effect on their offering.

Uh, yeah. Is that so? Let’s ask your famed pianist, Roger Williams (from the Orange County Register):

“His children had no history of success making it on their own… Bob and Arvella (Schuller) went through tough times and built this church one brick at a time. To me, it’s those tough times you had to endure by yourself that make you great. Bob did not give that privilege to his children.”

Williams, who has recorded 21 gold and platinum albums, quit his pianist post last fall after 35 years, saying he had grown weary of “church confrontations” and “bitter family fights.”

“I had a hard time dealing with the (Schuller) kids,” Williams said in June. “All I wanted to do was play the piano. When people with no experience tell me how to play the piano – I just couldn’t deal with it.”

But yes, the economy should have some blame in there too.

Coleman, 59, said Sunday that the church’s economic situation had improved significantly in recent months and that she was determined to restore solid financial footing to the church her father built.

“My role is to help him finish strong and hold him up so he can preach till the day he dies,” she said.

If he can’t make up his mind about retiring and not trusting you to keep the lights on, madame, that may come sooner than you think. (Somewhere, Junior Schuller is yukking it up and calling Dish Network about getting listed.)

“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.