The church is in financial turmoil: It plans to sell more than $65 million worth of its Orange County property to pay off debt. Revenue dropped by nearly $5 million last year, according to a recent letter from the elder Schuller to elite donors. In the letter, Schuller Sr. implored the Eagle’s Club members – who supply 30 percent of the church’s revenue – for donations and hinted that the show might go off the air without their support.
“The final months of 2008 were devastating for our ministry,” the 82-year-old pastor wrote.
The Crystal Cathedral blames the recession for its woes. But it’s clear that the elder Schuller’s carefully orchestrated leadership transition, planned over a decade, has stumbled badly.
The article goes on to point out that evangelical television is probably past its sell-by date now. It’s surprising the show lasted as long as it did, frankly. I didn’t know Hour of Power was still running. I can’t even recall if I ever watched it. I might have grown up in a house with two channels, but if Church was on, I wasn’t gonna watch it…
The church has since instituted a rotating roster of high-profile guest preachers, including Bill Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, the Chicago-area megachurch, and evangelist Luis Palau.
Schuller Sr.’s daughters and sons-in-law remain involved in the church, some in key roles. But Juan Carlos Ortiz, the interim senior pastor, hopes to appoint a senior pastor with no ties to the Schuller family within two years.
On the church Web site, concerned members and TV fans have posted hundreds of comments protesting the upheaval, with some indicating they have stopped giving or will leave altogether.
Several angry viewers have launched petitions to get the younger Schuller back.
But look at this from Rob A.’s point of view. He’s lived with this church stuff for much of his life. His dad has groomed him to take up the mantel and now he’s in his 50s and thinking he’d rather do something else. I wouldn’t blame him one bit. He wants to do his own thing, away from the giant crystalized umbrella of his father’s ministry. Granted, his own thing is still a ministry, but it’s something he could take credit for.
Melody Mook, a 58-year-old medical transcriptionist from El Paso, Texas, said she stopped her $25 monthly donation and is looking elsewhere for her spiritual needs. She said she dislikes the guest pastors.
“I feel hurt and confused and I’m not sure that I want to sit and watch when I know there’s problems beneath the surface,” she said. “You feel like you’re in somebody else’s church every Sunday.”
Others said they felt betrayed that the Schullers couldn’t put God before their family spat.
Goofy logic there. They’d rather the Schullers pretend nothing’s wrong just so they’ll give the audience what it wants? You’d think the audience and whatever all congregation there was would be willing to support the people involved, not make it about their own entertainment and satisfaction. But, we are talking about human beings here, aren’t we? We are a selfish lot who only pretend to care, sometimes.