Thu 16 Feb 2012
You may have read that the iconic Crystal Cathedral in Orange Co. California has been sold to the Catholic Diocese. The deal had hit a snag, but it seems to be going through. Of
course, the members of the Crystal Cathedral are devastated and in their words, “Looking for a miracle.”
The Crystal Cathedral could have been seen by some as a wonder of the world. It is doubtful there is a more magnificent church complex anywhere else in the world. Worshippers could see the sky and birds flying in an aviary, and tropical plants growing inside the building. For some it may have been the closest thing to heaven on earth. The minister, Robert H. Schuller, stood “high and lifted up” above his listeners. His messages were the combination of “The Power of Positive Thinking”, “How to Win Friends and Influence People, and the Bible. He was charismatic and charming. Not only did ministers “lust in their hearts” to have what he had, they wanted to talk like him. He was every preacher’s secret dream.
It all started forty or fifty years ago at a drive-in theater he bought and converted to a drive-in church. In time he expanded and the Crystal Cathedral was born.
The absolute beauty and enormity of the project attracted thousands. But those thousands alone could not keep the project going. The main source of income came from Schuller’s talent as a speaker on the radio and TV program, “Hour of Power”. When the listener funds began to dry up, serious changes began to take place. Last year the church filed for bankruptcy. Schuller is now retired and his son and daughter have had conflicts over how the church was to proceed. (I stated in an earlier article that Robert H. Schuller had died, which was incorrect.)
Did the church mismanage their funds? I don’t know. But there is a stated reason funds became scarcer. Donations from listeners began to dry up. Why? Was it because Schuller was looking to retire? Perhaps he already had. But the outside interest in supporting the Cathedral began to stop. Having productions as professional as anything on Broadway, with hired professional actors, cost money. The plays and pageants they produced and put on had a cast of hundreds. They charged up to $45 a ticket and filled the place to the doors. Even the Sunday service was a well-oiled production. Anyone who worshiped there believed they were in the most famous place in America to worship. But what happens when the funds coming in do not match the cost of the operation? What happens when it becomes “It’s not as good as it used to be”? What happens when the leading man is replaced by an understudy? If the people who make up the worshiping body are simply concert and stage production goers, in this world where an iphone is out of date by the time you make the first call, there is bound to be a lot less season ticket holders after awhile.
There is, at some point, in every mega-church, (and even smaller ones) that it becomes a business. There will be prayers, singing and sermons, but when the doors are closed, the money has to be counted and the competition assessed. The spoken word may be the big “F” faith, but the operational “F” is finance. There’s nothing wrong with financial stability as a church, except when wealth and grandeur is the unstated reason to exist.
There is no doubt that Christianity in America is changing. The term “market share” has become a common phrase in the world of church growth. The competition is stiff, to say the least. If you don’t keep up you’ll be left in the dust of antiquated Christianity. The newer generation is looking for a place that will confirm what they already believe and want, and there is an abundance of places which will provide it.
Christianity has always been in flux. Divisions over the meaning of scripture have produced almost countless groups. Today every group has divisions within themselves. The original purpose for being and the original names often relate very little with the theology now being taught.
What we can hope for is that among the changes that will take place, there will still be those who will courageously stand for human dignity and equality, and whose existence is based on bringing the life and teachings of Jesus to bear on the world. If you look back through history, few if any came from the big, powerful, political churches. Most of them were little-known people who couldn’t live with themselves if they didn’t stand up and speak out against that which was unjust and unloving.
CONCERNS: Jim Hunter had cancer surgery on Thursday. The doctors feel very optimistic about his recovery, but he will need further treatment. Joni Beach’s brother was admitted to Duke Hospital for tests concerning a growth on his spine. Erma Williams’s father is still dealing with a staph infection. Donna Brutto, Jo Wagner’s cousin (bladder cancer). Jenn McCready, who works with Del Bolin, faces lifelong shots to keep her vision. A friend of Garrett Lee Williams and Brice Reid has continuing treatments to restore the sight in one eye from an accident. Jenni Cullum recently traveled to Haymarket with Debbie and looked at a place for her to live that will let her take her cat. Continue to remember Helen Nicklas, Eleanor Crush, Ron Matney, Alma Martin, Joni Beach’s mother, Randy Conner, Tim Elder and the work in Guatemala and around the world.
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 20-25
Monday: I Peter 1:13-25
Tuesday: Psalm 95:1-11
Wednesday: Matthew 14:13-33
Thursday: Romans 12:9-21
Friday: I Timothy 1:12-2:7
Saturday: Psalm 116:1-19
OUR DAILY BREAD: FEB. 27-MAR. 3
Monday: Psalm 16:1-11
Tuesday: Matthew 20:1-16
Wednesday: Amos 3:12-4:5
Thursday: Hebrews 10:19-39
Friday: Ephesians 5:3-20
Saturday: Psalm 148: 1-14
Today (2/19) is Super Sunday. If you forgot it doesn’t matter, just stay for the fellowship meal following the service. And if you see a visitor, be sure to let them know they are welcome to come.
Our young folks are at Winterfest in Gatlinburg, TN this weekend. They plan to be here in time to eat with us. Our thanks once again to Holly Wagner for arranging the trip as well as driving the van. Our thanks also to Bill Branch for the use of the van.
When the directory was printed, Susan and Wayne Phlegar’s page was skipped, so they were placed in the back. That also meant that their names did not make the birthday and anniversary list in the front. Please make a note that Susan’s birthday is Oct. 24, and Wayne’s is Feb. 5. Their anniversary is July 4.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
The steering committee will meet right after the Super Sunday meal today. The names submitted to serve on the committee will be placed in nomination if they have accepted the invitation to serve.
If you are eating with us today you may want to stop by the kitchen and see that all the new appliances have been installed. This gives much more counter space to prepare food since there is now only one counter-top microwave.
THE NEW SOUND SYSTEM
We have been in contact with Hoss Ridgeway, the minister in Statesville concerning a man in Greensboro who will give us a discount on what we need and will come and do the installation. Hoss will put us in contact with him as soon as he can. And we can get started on the first phase of the worship changes.