Thinking Out Loud

May 5, 2012

Crystal Cathedral: Cast of Characters

This is St. Callistus Catholic Church, part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which just bought the Crystal Cathedral, and a possible future home for the present Crystalites. Confused? I hoped you would be; that’s why you really need to read this article

Apparently some of you are bewildered, as you have every right to be; so here, as a public service, is your guide to who’s who in the ongoing story; and a refresher for those of you who know.

[Note: Some of this may be less than reliable.]

Robert H. in happier times

Robert H. Schuller is the founder of Garden Grove Community Church which later became better known as The Crystal Cathedral.  His self help messages are known for short rhyming catch-phrases like, “Inch by inch, anything’s a cinch;” “It takes guts to get out of the ruts;” and “If it bleeds it leads.” (Maybe not the last one.)  He is married to Arvella, whose contribution to Hour of Power includes rewriting classic hymns so as to contain less emphasis on the blood of Jesus and more emphasis on possibility thinking. (“What can wash away my sins? Elbow grease and much detergent…”)  Robert H. is no longer active in ministry; we’re not sure what he does on Sunday mornings currently, but it may involve sitting at home and watching Joel Osteen.

Hour of Power is the broadcast ministry of the church.  These days, it is actually the Half-Hour of Power. TV stations carrying the program now require prepayment, not unlike self-serve gas stations which after midnight want to run your MasterCard first.

The Crystal Cathedral itself was recently sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.  That’s Orange as in Orange County, California; not a reference to the Orange Lodge, which is decisively Protestant. “Now the building will be a true cathedral;” people were heard to say. How dare Protestants use the word “cathedral” when it isn’t.  Apparently in order to use the word, there must be a bishop’s chair, or bishop’s throne.  The furniture at the big glass church on Lewis Street was apparently lacking as the money for chairs was spent on the fountain.  Over the last few weeks, the church has experienced a bit of revival in terms of attendance; which is rather unfortunate timing.

Robert A. Schuller, sometimes referred to as Robert Anthony is the son of Arvella and Robert H. He is married to Donna, who sometimes reads this blog, so we’re going to tread carefully with this paragraph. In 2009, after unceremoniously leaving the Crystal Cathedral in a controversy involving his rather annoying habit of preaching from the Bible, he became chair of Comstar, a media company that has been slowly buying other media companies including FamilyNet and American Life TV, the latter now known as YouToo (a name often easily confused with that other popular site, Facebook) which combines elements broadcast television with video uploading. (Correction: YouToo is actually always confused with Pinterest.) Last week, for the first time in years, Robert A. showed up at Crystal Cathedral after getting lost on the freeway while heading for Calvary Chapel.

A room at the Anaheim Marriott. The ballroom is believed to be much larger.

Sheila Coleman Schuller is the eldest daughter of Robert H. and Arvella.  (They have three other daughters.) She often gets confused with pop singer Sheila E. The former early childhood education specialist became lead pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, proving that you really don’t need much in the way of theological training to pastor a megachurch. (See yesterday’s post here.) Last week, nearly 100 people showed up to hear her preach at her new venture, Hope Center of Christ, or as the cool people say, Hope Center OC; which meets downstairs at the Panda House Restaurant on Harbor Blvd.  Okay, just kidding, they really meet in the Crystal (there’s that word again) Ballroom of the Marriott Suites Hotel.

Disneyland is a theme park located just blocks away in Anaheim, California.  It has no bearing on this article.

Bobby Schuller is actually Bobby V. Schuller, with the V. for Vernon, son of Robert A. and Donna.  Continuing the family tradition, he has a Masters in Divinity from Fuller and pastors Tree of Life, sometimes referred to, as in this blog, as The Gathering, where you can watch sermons online.  He is our last hope. (I don’t know what that means, I just thought the sentence fit in well at that point.)  He is also associated with The St. Patrick Project, whose mission is thus described at this page: “We care for the homeless, mentor kids, help feed the hungry, and support the arts. We encourage hope.”  He showed up at big glass church last week sporting a new haircut.

Angie Schuller Wyatt is also important to this story, but this has taken far more time than I had expected.

Anthony Schuller, son of Robert A. has not posted anything to his blog since February, 2010, and is believed have changed his last name to Zaguenni. He is pursuing a career in international missions so he can get far, far away from Orange County. In the meantime, you might find him catching some rays at Laguna Beach.

Well, I hope that helped you on this Saturday morning as much as it helped me stay away from garage sales, swap meets and flea markets.  If you have any questions, check with the Orange County Register, they have all the answers.


Important trivia to know:  American Life TV was once owned by the Unification Church, aka The Moonies.  source As Dave Barry says, I am not making this up.

Even more important: The five manual organ at the big glass church, with its 16,061 pipes, is the largest in the world. source  If you push the button labeled “Doublette 2′ ” the organ starts playing the song Never Gonna Give You Up with baroque accompaniment.

March 15, 2012

Sheila Schuller Coleman Lauches Hope Center of Christ

It was, after all, the United States’ first true megachurch. So when things at the Crystal Cathedral began to unravel a few years ago, this blogger thought it all worth mentioning even when others didn’t or wouldn’t, which resulted in much unexpected traffic.

But then, in the last few days, as the whole saga seemed to reach the final chapter, it all seemed rather anticlimactic. First there was the resignation of Robert H. and wife Arvella, widely reported. Then, on Sunday, the rather sudden announcement at the second service by daughter and pastor Sheila Coleman that it was her final service at the iconic Southern California church.

The Orange County Register story linked above chose to headline the story, “Schuller Coleman leaving; Crystal Cathedral congregation faces split;” but indeed, with only 700 in attendance at both services — many of them tourists — how do you split a congregation so small and still leave much left?

But out of the ashes, something new begins.

First, the word, that Sheila and brother-in-law Jim Penner would begin a new work, Hope Center OC — with the “OC” standing for “of Christ” while of course also intoning “Orange County.”  Another detail nested in the story:

She indicated she had received a $50,000 donation from a supporter to help with the move – “a heck of a lot more than what mom and dad” had when they started, she said.

But the location is still TBA, as in “to be acquired.” The elder Schullers announced that they would neither be going with Sheila nor continuing to attend whatever takes place at the famed church on Lewis St. in Garden Grove.

“How we will express ourselves in worship remains up in the air,” Robert H. and Arvella Schuller stated in the release.

Schuller: The Next Generation

At this rate, grandson (Robert A.’s son; pictured right) Bobby Schuller’s church, The Gathering (aka Tree of Life Community) might have more people in attendance next Sunday than either iteration of what met last Sunday, a concept that would have been unthinkable just a few short months ago.

Terry Mattingly at Get Religion finds the reporting on the story “hollow,” and suggests that even knowing more about the contents of the sermon that Coleman delivered, or what music was sung that day would give us a better picture of Sunday’s events. Whereas I’m somewhat relieved that the story is over, he finds so much more waiting to be told.

Like, for example, Robert Anthony’s take on the whole thing. The younger R.S. has been wisely silent throughout this process, but I’m sure he has both substantive ideas and strong emotions about all that’s taken place. Would the Crystal Cathedral ministry still be intact if the original succession had lasted? We’ll never know.

Perhaps Terry Mattingly is right. This is a continuing drama. The same day that Sheila Coleman and Jim Penner posted their video, this video appeared:

Favorite quotation from the video, “…Many have told me that I redefined the Christian message.  I had to…”

Had to? Yes, the gospel that the church preached for centuries was wholly inadequate. It needed, apparently, new possibilities.

And apparently it still does. Stay tuned. This story is not over.

May 28, 2011

Crystal Cathedral Land, Buildings To Be Sold in June

In a desperate bid to eliminate debt, an Irvine, California real estate partnership will acquire the land and buildings and then grant the church the option to lease back the facility for 15 years.   The church has been cutting back expenses, but membership, weekly attendance and revenue have kept falling faster than the cutbacks.

The debt relief could also allow what the Orange County Register terms “23 insiders” to continue to live in the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed.  Although it limits salaries, there isn’t mention of the ever conspicuous “housing allowances” paid to key staff.  The newspaper reports:

Greenlaw Partners would pay $46 million for the cathedral and surrounding buildings, leasing back the cathedral to the ministry. Most of the cash would go to creditors.

After four years, the ministry would have the right to buy back the cathedral, parking lots and most other buildings for $30 million. Greenlaw would get the right to build apartments on some of the 30-acre property…

…The key to the plan is real estate development. Greenlaw wants to build apartments – potentially hundreds of apartments – on what are now parking lots, low-slung buildings and lawns near the corner of Lewis Street and Dawn Avenue.The deal is critical to the ministry’s precarious financial health. Each apartment Greenlaw builds would knock $20,000 off the price the ministry pays to get back the cathedral and its core buildings. In an example cited in court papers, 400 apartments would reduce the repurchase price by $8 million…

…The family of founding Rev. Robert H. Schuller would give up some of its financial power over the cathedral to an independent board. Although the elder Schuller and his wife, Arvella, would sit on that board, an executive board controlled by outsiders would set the ministry’s budget and would also appoint the chief financial officer.

In addition, the bankruptcy plan limits the salary of the ministry’s chief executive officer, Schuller’s daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, to $69,525 a year.

The church owes about $7.5 million to unsecured creditors including many longtime vendors who provided services for its annual Christmas and Easter pageants. Church administrators say the cathedral will continue its local worship services, community outreach programs and its weekly “Hour of Power” broadcasts. Also, the plan will immediately eliminate both the church’s mortgage and the majority of its vendor debt, they say. Any remaining vendor debt will be repaid over the next 42 months, officials say….

Continue reading the story at OC Register.

Crystal Cathedral staff are quick to lay the blame on economic factors, but readers of this blog know otherwise.   While megachurches elsewhere are booming, the difference lies clearly in the message preached.  Even though some identify the big glass church as within the parameters of Evangelicalism, the church’s “positive thinking” teaching more resembles that of mainline Protestant churches — most of which are also seeing rapidly declining numbers — if not, on some Sundays, coming across with a message that would be fully acceptable to most Unitarians.

The cathedral’s court filings’ blame its financial troubles partly on “unsettled leadership” but mostly on the recession.

However, a financial statement filed Friday shows that the ministry’s losses predate the recession…

Perhaps they predate even the founding of the church.  Let me explain.  Like Chicago’s Willow Creek, the Crystal Cathedral was founded on the basis of a door-to-door survey.  But while Bill Hybels’ neighbors (a) didn’t want to be asked for money and (b) wanted to be anonymous or not singled out; those in Schuller’s survey made it clear they didn’t want to be judged, or preached condemnation.  On that premise, and under the influence of Norman Vincent Peale, Robert H. Schuller embarked on a message of self-improvement that at times is indistinguishable from that of Oprah Winfrey.  In a church-saturated country, it wasn’t the message that either those within the fold, or those outside it craved.

Evangelicals have always admired the quality of the Hour of Power’s television productions, the choir and orchestra, and the colorful list of weekly guests.   But the message was always watered down, light years away from the “full gospel” of Pentecostals, and often not even a “half gospel” that more conservative Christians could endorse.

In the end, Schuller’s own son, Robert A. Schuller couldn’t endorse it either; and the pastor, who credits a Billy Graham crusade with his own personal conversion, began a more aggressive exposition of Biblical texts, much to the dislike of some in the church’s executive branch.

The younger Schuller’s dismissal and absence from the weekly telecast was the wake up call that many faithful viewers needed to realize that there was indeed trouble in the camp. 

And so, the once mighty Crystal Cathedral limps onward, but a shadow of its former self. 

May 2, 2011

Orchestra Members Walk Out on Crystal Cathedral Concert

The paychecks they received were half of what they were verbally promised, so eight musicians representing one quarter of the Crystal Cathedral orchestra, decided to walk with just an hour remaining before showtime.*   The L. A. Times reported that the Cathedral later blamed accounting errors, but other parts of the story suggest that some orchestra members had not been paid for the previous Easter.

The impact this had, according to the cathedral, was minimal. 

About a quarter of the orchestra — including an oboist, flutist and four French horn players — walked out a mere hour before services began Sunday…

Crystal Cathedral spokesman John Charles said Easter services weren’t affected by the eight people who walked out. Checks have been sent to those who performed.

“No one would have ever known they were missing,” he said of the eight.

No one noticed the entire French horn section missing?  As a musician, that seems somewhat hard to fathom, and at least one woodwind blogger was insulted.  But not so hard to fathom is the underlying bitterness the musicians — like so many others having contracts to do work for the church — are feeling:

“This church is known for three things: an inspiring minister with a vision, fabulous music and wonderful architecture,” said oboe player Holly Patterson, one of the musicians who walked out Sunday. “Out of those three things, only one exists now.”

You can read the story at the L. A. Times; also this blogger has a friend who had to sue the church to get paid;  while a longer story in the Orange County Register, notes that a website has been formed to rally those who are fans of the church’s unique music:

A few members have started a new website, crystalcathedralmusic.net, which says its mission is to “host a gathering place for Hour of Power viewers and the local congregation interested in keeping alive the traditional music of the Crystal Cathedral.” Most of the music featured on the website is from before April 2011. The site says that some most recent music has been featured for “purposes of comparison only.”

Of course, some will argue that this is part of the folly of having paid church musicians; of having a system whereby ministry is being done so professionally, that only professionals participate; and that, in the average church, the musicians are all volunteers. Should churches use paid musicians to augment special seasonal performances, or use them regularly as do some churches?

*The choice of the word “showtime” as opposed to “church service” or “concert” was intentional.    

Click picture for photo credit.

The use of today’s discussion question is in no way intended to detract from the more obvious question: Should not churches pay their bills?

January 19, 2011

Wednesday Link List

Enjoy this week’s links; there’s ice cream at the end!

  • You Give Me Your Shows and I’ll Give You Mine Department:  Canada’s Christian television network, CTS has put together a reciprocal deal with Robert A. Schuller’s American Life Network to share programming and media platforms.  Currently a limited list of CTS programs are available on the NRB Network.  Read more at BDBO.
  • Tattooed Pastor Department:  Jay Bakker has a new book out, Fall to Grace (Faithwords) which Tony Jones reviews at Take and Read.
  • Read This One For the Gipper Department:  Here’s another book review, this one for The Faith of Ronald Reagan by Mary Beth Brown, reviewed by Darrell Dow.
  • Biting The Hand That Feeds Them Department:  The Feed-a-Friend program in downtown Houston, Texas is now being required to purchase a $17/day permit from the city to carry out its mission of feeding the homeless.  The group is trying to avoid an us-versus-them mentality.
  • Killing Me Softly Department: Dee at Wartburg Watch takes a trip down memory lane profiling a not-yet-published book by Irishman Charlie Boyd, and reminds us of The Jesus Movement, Arthur Blessitt, Larry Norman, The Late Great Planet Earth, the Shepherding Movement, Calvary Chapel, and so many other times and places worth remembering.
  • Big Bang Theory Department:  If your tastes run to quantum physics, Michael Belote’s recent posts at Reboot Christianity might be just what you’re looking for, starting with the most recent, Schrodinger’s Christianity. (This makes a good forward for your science-type friends. Spoiler: Our souls are like quantum particles.)
  • Ministry Copycat Department:  We all know of churches which offer conferences and seminars for pastors to learn how the big guys do it.  The seminars aren’t free; the churches are basically selling their expertise.   Now comes word that one megachurch actually charges a fee just to see the wording of their staff job descriptions. Yikes!
  • Dialing for Doctrine Department: At The Arminian Blog (caption line: Theology in the Dutch Reformed Tradition of Jacob Arminius) comes this article about inconsistencies among Southern Baptist Calvinists when it comes to missions.
  • Glass Houses Department: We all have a public persona and a private persona, but what really goes on behind the closed door of our houses when it’s just us and the fam?  It’s a question worth considering in the light of this homespun article by Trey Morgan listing ten things you’d notice if you were a guest. Not sure why I’m attracted to this article, but after reading it, I feel I’ve already spent time with Lea, Trey and the boys.
  • Church Plant Withers Department:  This is a link to Jamie Arpin-Ricci’s blog, selected because it takes you to all four parts of Jason Coker’s blog where he describes the final days of the Ikon church plant in San Diego.  Or you can also get there from David Fitch’s blog along with much additional analysis. The similarities between Jason’s experience in southern California and my own experience with Transformation Church an hour east of Toronto are rather striking.
  • Authors of Confusion Department: Keith Brenton lists some indicators of bad theology in a December piece I missed earlier, How To Spot False Teaching.
  • Higher Education Department: At my own alma mater, The University of Toronto, a couple of local churches and ministry organizations are lending support to a Jesus Awareness Week. Oh, to be a student again, and be part of the events.
  • Interfaith Dialog Department:  Mark Galli at Christianity Today suggests that step one in starting the conversation with people of other faiths actually lies in evangelizing ourselves.
  • Truth is Stranger Than Cartoons Department:  We leave this week with two, count ‘em two links to the blog American Jesus.  The first is a 40-second mystery video about church pageantry and formality gone wrong.  The second link gets you an explanation for the picture which appears below.  See ya in seven days with more links.

December 7, 2010

The Schuller Family: For Greater Contrast, Skip a Generation

See info below re. these pictures

This blog has already been both a news source and sounding board for the continuing drama at the Crystal Cathedral that I am in two minds about this particular blog post.

However, Nicole Santacruz at the L.A. Times has written such a definitive article — even after it seems so much has already been written — that I cannot help but link to it here, and also respond to it.

The article begins not with the juxtaposition of Robert H. and Robert A., but skips a generation and looks at the contrast — and perhaps a few similarities — between Cathedral Founder Robert H. and grandson Bobby, who pastors The Gathering, just a few miles down the road.

The third-generation Schuller hopes to do what the landmark — and now bankrupt — Crystal Cathedral has apparently failed to: evolve with the times.

Bobby’s church, The Gathering, takes a low-key approach to worship. Sunday’s services aren’t in an opulent church. Young band members open the service, and it’s intimate — people don paper name tags and shake hands. All of these elements represent a “post-boomer” style of worship popular with 20- to 40-year-old Christians, said Richard Flory, a sociologist of religion at USC.

But the article goes beyond mere color commentary; here’s a take on the big glass church in Garden Grove:

“They are totally outdated,” Flory said. “They are so committed to a plot of land and a building, and they’ve got a problem.”

And this look at the annual “Glory of Christmas” pageant:

The Christmas production would begin to signify a culture of extravagance within the church: More than a dozen angels in white chiffon flew overhead, professional singers replaced volunteers, and live camels and donkeys took the stage.   (Emphasis added.)

And this interesting sidebar, a revelation about a production few of us had heard of:

[I]n 2005, Carol Schuller Milner, the third Schuller daughter, produced a multimillion-dollar pageant called “Creation,” which was poorly attended and never staged again.

Robert A.’s daughter provides some good insight:

“When you have a dynamic where faith, fame and family are all involved, it becomes difficult to prioritize faith,” she said. “Instead it becomes part of this mixture of family dynamics and fame dynamics.”

And the article also raises another issue, one being dealt with by multiplied numbers of churches:

“I think it’s true that any congregation has to figure out how its style of ministry affects more than one generation.” said Wes Granberg-Michaelson, general secretary for the Reformed Church in America, the denomination to which the Crystal Cathedral belongs. “You see evidence of that in Bobby’s service.”

Bobby, who’s now 29, gets the last word:

Bobby Schuller is an innovator like his grandfather, but the way he delivers his message of Christianity is drastically different. The stereotypical church, he said, is about a perfect building filled with perfect people, music and a perfect preacher.

“In other words, it’s not like life,” he said…

…Volunteers set up for the service each Sunday and take down the chairs and tables that afternoon. When the work is done, they all go out for pizza. More than 90% of church funds go toward social justice issues such as homelessness and domestic violence.

“Our goal is to make big Christians, not big churches,” he said.

There’s more to the L.A. Times article.   I’ve excerpted a few sections here only because many of you don’t take the time to click the link, but hoping you will, here is the story link again.

Recent coverage here of the Crystal Cathedral saga:

…and also…

  • Wednesday Link List from a few days ago, with the link to a very recent, unscheduled TV interview Robert A. did with 100 Huntley St.

About the photos:   I decided we needed a different kind of photo of the big glass temple, and in searching for an arial photo, came across this one from Google Earth that had been posted at the site Sacred Destinations, and decided to take a chance on the copyrighted photo as well.  (If it’s not there, I lost that battle!)   I got to visit the original Garden Grove Community Church in 1979, and then my wife and I did the larger facility in 1989.  There are additional photos and story at that website.

November 3, 2010

Wednesday Link List

Not enough links for you in yesterday’s NIV post?   Well then here are few extra…

  • First of all a quotation from Bishop Fulton Sheen we found at Big Blue Wave:  “So much of what people call atheism is not so much the negation of God as the deification of the ego.  All atheists believe in God, but the god is themselves.”  Ouch!   This is a website that deals with social issues from a Christian perspective.
  • A story in the Imperial Republican in Imperial Nebraska is one of the most amazing things I’ve read this week.   Little Colton Burpo had a near death experience that resulted in his dad, Todd Burpo publishing the story with Thomas Nelson in the just-released book, Heaven is for Real. Check this one out, and be sure to read the four reasons why his dad concluded that his son really did get a look at heaven.
  • It took Kelley Mooney two years, but she finally got the mechanical rights to use Leonard Cohen’s song Halleluljah with substituted lyrics which look at Jesus’ road to the cross.   Check out the video premiere in Nova Scotia, Canada with an awesome children’s choir.
  • Some great stuff at Christianity 201 recently including:  Michael Krahn’s look at the Wayward Son’s older brother;   Mark Batterson on the Jewish “3D” understanding of sin;   Bob Coy wonders aloud how long The Flood was effective in wiping sin off the face of the earth;  an anonymous e-mail forward takes a look at the 23rd Psalm;  Daniel Jepson cites Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ take on the subject of brokenness;  David Fisher finds a church in Belfast which, rather than a statement of faith has a statement of ethos.
  • Greg Koukl at Stand To Reason takes a cue from Jesus’ ministry and suggests that when someone is trying to trap you with a question about some controversial social issue; turn the table and answer the question with a question.
  • In Christian circles preoccupied with pastors who are major authors, or attendance figures at megachurches, Darryl Dash celebrates the beauty of average or ordinary churches including this quote from Derek Webb:  “I’ve found that often success looks more like failure, riches more like poverty, and real life often feels more like death.”
  • Regent College theology professor John Stackhouse flat out thinks that Mark Driscoll needs to take a study break to sharpen his exegetical skills.   C’mon, John; tell us what you really think.
  • Robert A. Schuller does an unscheduled 20-minute interview with Jim Cantelon at the daily Christian talk show in Canada, 100 Huntley Street; including a mention of how his son, Robert Vernon Schuller, aka Bobby, pastor of The Gathering, brokered a meeting between Robert A. and grandfather Robert H. Schuller.  This is a two part video; here and here.
  • And speaking of the Crystal Cathedral, Karen Spears Zacharias suggests that Joel Osteen should be taking notes on what is happening at the big glass church.
  • Joshua Harris looks at the big picture of how we approach Sunday morning worship, including a growing lack of punctuality, which we’ve also noticed recently in a few churches.   Does it say something about our increasing apathy in our hearts?  Do people in your church fill the front rows first?   Is the hunger there, or is there complacency?
  • Our picture below is from a general interest website, BoingBoing; which spells out the scripture mentioned in the sign:  “Mark 11:12-14 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’ And his disciples heard him say it.”

October 19, 2010

Crystal Cathedral Bows To Inevitable Financial Pressure

An hour after ABC News was reporting the Crystal Cathedral’s Chapter 11 filing, neither the religion page at USAToday or the CNN Belief blog had anything posted.   In many ways, the best the story merits is either a yawn or an “I told you so.”   Everyone saw it coming.

Everyone, perhaps except Robert H. Schuller, the founder of Garden Grove Community Church, later renamed after its architectural offspring, The Crystal Cathedral.    Many will speculate that if Schuller, Sr. had focused more on his other offspring, son Robert A. Schuller, perhaps the organization would not have met with such rapid decline.

The Orange County Business Journal quotes the present lead pastor:

“Budgets could not be cut fast enough to keep up with the unprecedented rapid decline in revenue due to the recession,” Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said in a statement.

The filing lists debts of “50 to 100 million;” under 1,000 creditors owed; and assets of $100 million.  (All figures U.S. dollars.)

But another Orange County publication, the OC Journal, has columnist Gustavo Arellano inferring that Schuller, Sr. “had it coming.”

…The world will see that Schuller ultimately influenced American Christianity the most of any pastor in OC–at the expense of his own flock and for personal benefit.

While Chuck Smith revitalized American evangelicism via Calvary Chapel, the Crouches revolutionized broadcasting the words of Christ (including Schuller’s own Hour of Power) and Rick Warren built a global megachurch without peer, Schuller put too much of his church’s focus on himself–the best-selling books, the television program, the many lectures. His message of possibility thinking and seminars for pastors made Warren possible, created the megachurch movement, and brought in millions to build his Crystal Cathedral–but while Schuller mugged for the cameras, he never did set a course of succession for his flock. If I was more up-to-date on my Scripture, this is the part where I’d quote Jesus or some prophet about vanity–oh, Ecclesiastes!–and say Schuller didn’t learn.

So what does Chapter 11 mean when applied to a church?   It’s not much different than when it is applied to a manufacturing plant or a department store.   There is a temporary relief of pressure, life goes on, and the church tries to come up with a plan.

At this point, I know some will suggest there really is only one plan:  Bring back son Robert A. Schuller.   Whether he would want to return under the present conditions is a huge variable.

But otherwise, the options aren’t that many.   Perhaps Anaheim, California will find itself with a new symphony hall or arts center somewhere down the road — after all, don’t a lot of the rundown or abandoned churches in North America eventually end up as some kind of civic facility?

Appendix:   Adding up the debt

Here’s a few of the major — and some longstanding — creditors as reported at the Orange County Register:

Infocision Management Corp.: $359,788
Lloyd Daniel Corp.: $318,500
FGS-CA Inc.: $252,992
KWGN: $206,954
World Marketing Inc.: $200,386
Thomas Nelson Publisher: $200,219
Dayster Television: $172,997
Wheelchair Foundation: $163,551
Hearst Television Inc.: $105,400
Lin Television Corporation: $90,567
Kristina Oliver, livestock supplier: $56,000
Gray Television Inc.: $55,522
Sharon Crabtree, managed props for pageants: $20,000
Carin Galletta, public relations: $16,000
Bruce Johnson, drycleaner: $11,500
Juliet Noriega, wardrobe supervisor: $10,000

December 9, 2009

Robert Schuller Quadruples Broadcast Reach in Network Acquisitions

Tuesday, the Dallas Morning News reported the following deal with between Robert A. Schuller’s company and the network owned by Charles Stanley’s In Touch Ministries:

A Dallas private equity firm co-founded by Robert A. Schuller, the former televangelist from the Hour of Power, has acquired two media companies in Atlanta that nearly quadruple its reach to 50 million U.S. households.

ComStar Media said Monday that it’s buying FamilyNet Television and FamilyNet Radio for an undisclosed amount.

“It’s a pretty big leap,” said ComStar co-founder and chief executive Chris Wyatt, who is Schuller’s son-in-law. “No one knows who we are in Dallas, and we run two major television networks.”

Wyatt hopes to change that.

He projects that ComStar’s $5 million in revenue will at least double next year.

Wyatt and Schuller, who is chairman of ComStar, started the company late last year to buy distressed faith-based media companies. Its first fund has a target of $10 million, but the next fund will shoot for $50 million, Wyatt said.

In May, ComStar made its first acquisition, AmericanLife Television Network, which reaches 13 million households…  […continue reading here]

To learn more about Schuller’s new program, Everyday Life,  and American Life Network, click here.

Photo:  Scene from Everyday Life, ALN Network

November 30, 2009

Robert A. Schuller Returns to Television in a Different Format

This is an item that’s over 18 months old as of July, 2011.  If a search engine directed you here, consider using the search tab at right to look up more recent info on “Crystal Cathedral” or “Robert Schuller” including this recent piece.

Robert A. Schuller returned to television this week in a vastly different format to what we’re accustomed to seeing.   Everyday Life on the American Life Network was, well, here’s the bullet points:

  • 23 minute — online anyway, broadcast version may have had commercials — narrative story with RAS as the narrator, popping in and out to talk to the audience
  • High quality film production; more like H2O than Nooma with credible acting and a realistic story line; and a mystery character a la books like The Noticer or Bo’s Café.
  • Not preachy, which is what they were going for; your unchurched friends, relatives, neighbors and co-workers would watch this; there’s no sermon at all, but sometimes a story can ‘preach it’ better than a sermon can.
  • Nonetheless, some thought provoking concepts: “The thing about ‘destiny’ is, only the soul sees it coming, when it arrives it always seems like a surprise.”    Chew on that one.
  • Not actually very Christocentric or even ‘religious’ at all; that may draw some criticism,  but you have to remember this is the first episode of a series; a relationship with the audience will be built over time and the storyline will continue.  There’s a bit of foreshadowing of that at the 14:50 mark.

Verdict:   Too soon to tell.  Generally an affable program that will take several episodes to fully define itself.

Posture:   Encouragement.   Looking forward to the next installment.   Is this weekly?  Monthly?  Not sure.

Anything on this blog concerning Robert Schuller has generated a lot of comments on a site that is usually fair on readership but low on comments.   However, most of these comments have been directed to RAS, which drove me nuts once or twice.   That’s not normally how blogging works.  However, I’ve figured out a channel whereby I will get those comments to Robert and Donna; and I know there is large outpouring of love that people want to post online.

So…are you ready to watch the first episode?  Here’s the link to American Life Television; Everyday Life is the first video that starts rolling as soon as you arrive.

The next broadcast airing is Friday, December 4th at 4:30 PM

Bonus: Here’s a 4-minute interview Robert’s daughter Angie did concerning the new series.   (Where you can also leave comments after watching the show.)

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