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Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral files for bankruptcy

Bloomberg is reporting:

Crystal Cathedral Ministries, the Southern California megachurch founded by television evangelist Robert Schuller, filed for bankruptcy court protection from its creditors, which are owed as much as $100 million.

The church, known for its television show "The Hour of Power," listed assets and debts of $50 million to $100 million each in Chapter 11 documents filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, California. The church, based in Garden Grove, claims a congregation of 10,000 members.

"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.

U.S. churches are struggling financially because high unemployment has cut weekly offerings, said Wayne Bradshaw, president and chief operating officer of Broadway Federal Bank. The Los Angeles-based lender does about 25 percent of its lending business with churches.

Broadway, which has about $510 million in assets, has made about $100 million in loans to churches, Bradshaw said. The church-related loans have a higher rate of late payments than Broadway's other loans, Bradshaw said.

"We're seeing more late payments," Bradshaw said in a phone interview. "There certainly has been increasing delinquencies."

Crystal Cathedral spokesman John Charles said in an interview the church's revenue has fallen about 40 percent this year. From 2008 to 2009 revenue fell from about $30 million to about $22 million, he said.

Dr. Schuller, who recently turned 84, is still around and serves as the chairman of the board of directors of Crystal Cathedral Ministries. The church's current senior pastor, Sheila Schuller Coleman, is Robert Schuller's eldest daughter.

Ironically, Robert Schuller was co-author of a 1984 book entitled Living Debt Free which was written by Schuller and Paul Dunn, the husband of Schuller's daughter Jeanne.


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Comments (18)

Time to sell those crystal ... (Below threshold)
914:

Time to sell those crystal treasures.

Schuller was too much of a ... (Below threshold)
galoob:

Schuller was too much of a nice Christian guy, the spirit of the age demands haters in the pulpit.

My future brother-in-law wo... (Below threshold)

My future brother-in-law works for Crystal Cathedral doing their video production. His last two checks have bounced, as have others on the staff. Meanwhile, Sheila and the other offspring continue to collect about $12k per month. As to the 10k membership, J says they may be averaging about 700 people, but they have a Spanish language service that does better.

Schuler should have known b... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Schuler should have known better. After all the Bible says that narrow is the path to salvation but Broadway is the way to destruction.

Or words to that effect. ;)

Don't get out much, do ya, ... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Don't get out much, do ya, Galoob? Hate isn't popular for most people - if it were, then Air America would be outdrawing Rush Limbaugh.

Televangelists have their followings - just like some people swallow whatever a politician pukes out without bothering to check for taste or texture. Some make a living by telling the sheeple what they want to hear, some by actually doing good works. I doubt seriously that Schuller's 'hate'-filled preachings rise to a tenth of Wright's documented hate-filled rantings, and it looks like he's about reached the end of his 15 minutes.

(Or, at 84, he might have outlived a lot of his flock and their kids have found churches elsewhere.)

Time passes - and what was once hot now is not.

Schuller first gained notar... (Below threshold)

Schuller first gained notariety in the early 1960's when his original church facility, which was a remodelled drive-in theater, added a "drive-in" for church services, where parishoners could stay outside in their parked cars while still participating in the service.

"Drive-in" or "Drive-by" church may seem like a trendy way to worship, but the truth is that "drive-by" attendees never really develop a sense of community within a church -- and unfortunately "megachurches" have a lot of casual attendees who come primarily because they enjoy the experience of attending a huge church with slick, cutting-edge services. But when they cease to be entertained, or when they no longer have disposable income for donations, they simply pack up their toys and go home, because commitment to the church at a deeper level just doesn't exist.

I think that probably explains the drastic loss of revenue by Dr. Schuller's church more than anything else. Dr. Schuller is a good man, but like so many other religious leaders, he built too large an organization around his own preaching and writings and the eye-popping architecture of his church.

Actully not sad to see this... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

Actully not sad to see this church go down, as it is emblematic of the feel-good, pop-psychology gospel that's led so many Christians astray. There's only so much feel-good fluff you can take before you either leave for good or leave for a church where the no-holds-barred, hard-truths gospel is preached and taught.

Schuller came to OC when it... (Below threshold)
Baritone:

Schuller came to OC when it was booming. He simply stole the positive thinking line from Norman Vincent Peale. Nothing new came from him. The idea of magnificent music came from Ms. Schuller. All he had to do was be a nice guy - a good salesman. When he began to believe that he was the source of the success, he charted the path toward eventual failure.

The CC was paid for years ago. The mortgage debt comes from two new buildings - one of which is a museum built to honor himself. Much of the other debt came from a disastrous pageant called "Creation" that yet another of his untalented children insisted on producing. Its current losses have far less to do with the recession than the reality that very few people go there anymore and very few people send money anymore.

He is like the great surfer who, having caught a magnificent wave, thought his great ride to shore was solely because of his skill. He made it to shore, the wave died out, the people left, and he can't believe that nobody remains to cheer him on. Believing himself to be the source of success, he disregarded the sound business sense, competition and quality that he advocated in his speeches. Instead, he appointed his incompetent, untried and unproven children with nothing more than the blind hope that they would be just like him. Well, he wasn't as good as he thought and they were even worse. So, the moral of the story is that greed, pride, sloth, lust, wrath, envy and gluttony will take a person where they typically do. Schuller and his kids display them roundly.

The Schuller story provides great lessons in at least two venues: 1) from the pulpit some day in churches that don't want to appear as piling on, because it really is all about sin, and 2) in business schools as what NOT to do if you want to succeed. One person put all of his eggs in his own basket, disregarded good sense and healthy advice, and did everything wrong. Tragically, he still doesn't seem to get it.

And this guys speaks at the... (Below threshold)
Chorrito:

And this guys speaks at the "Get Motivated" seminars...not very motivational. Just saw him in person, and he brought this up.

What's the definition of true success?

"What's the definition o... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"What's the definition of true success?"

Knowing when to hold them, knowing when to fold them, knowing when to walk away - and knowing when to run.

He should have retired a good decade back - but how many people actually leave the game when there's money still sitting on the table?

Clearly there are posters o... (Below threshold)
OldflyerG8r:

Clearly there are posters on here more familiar than I am with CC.

My son-in-law, and his parents, were among the original congregation. They tell of going to the drive-in theater with surf boards on the car roof, and heading to the beach after the service.

I don't know the whole story, but son-in-law's parents became estranged several years ago. There has clearly been some turmoil in the Schuller family over the past few years.

My wife and I usually try to attend CC when we are in Orange County; and she loves "Hour of Power". Watches every Sunday at home.

I always felt the the whole thing had grown terribly ostentatious. It was obviously a high dollar operation. So, any loss of revenue would be critical.

I presume that they do a lot of good work, with the schools and the various out-reach and that their loss would be felt.

It is always a bad sign whe... (Below threshold)
superdestroyer:

It is always a bad sign when a "do-it-yourself" church (not connected with any denomination) becomes the family business. Eventually there are so many family members and hangers on needing a pay check that there is not enough money to fund it all.

Eventually Joel Osteen and Creflo dollar willbe in the same financial condition.

I've been a huge fan of THE... (Below threshold)
Paul Hooson:

I've been a huge fan of THE HOUR OF POWER and Dr. Schuller for many years. It's one of the finest Christian programs on TV. I've received many beautiful gifts over the years from my donations to this ministry, such as my favorite coffee cups. I sincerely hope that this program can continue. Joel Osteen, Jack Van Impe, Jimmy Swaggart, It Is Written and John Hagee are some of my other favorite Sunday religious shows.

I have been tracking this p... (Below threshold)

I have been tracking this program too and I hope that they are able to pull through this crisis.

IF HE ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO ... (Below threshold)
david ortiz:

IF HE ENCOURAGES PEOPLE TO TRUST IN GOD AND THEN HE IS FAILING; IT MEANS HE IS A FALSE PREACHER; THE LOGIC QUESTION IS THEN, WHERE IS GOD IN THIS SCENE?

VERY SIMPLE, HE IS NOT IN THIS CHURCH BECAUSE THIS CHURCH BELONGS TO MR., SHULLER, ITS GFOUNDER, NOT TO GOD; IN OTHER WORDS: PURE BUSINESS; OTHERWISE, GOD WOULD HAVE PROVIDED!

THIS IS A CLEAR EXAMPLE ABO... (Below threshold)
david ortiz:

THIS IS A CLEAR EXAMPLE ABOUT HOW FALSE TEACHERS DECEIVE THE AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WITH PROMISES OF "GOOD STEWARDESS FOR THE LORD", AS LONG AS THEY PAY TITHES.

IS HIS FAITH TOO SHORT THAT GOD DOES NOT PROVIDE FOR HIM AS HE TEACHES OTHERS? HOW SAD!

GOD IS NOT IN THOSE PLACES WHERE THE CHURCH BELONGS TO THE PASTOR AND HIS FAMILY,AND NOT TO THE LORD; WHO ANOINTED OR SENT HIM TO TEACH?.

This was the man of dreams,... (Below threshold)
Rajah:

This was the man of dreams, but I guess he has "over-dreamed". It is based on the velocity of his addiction to "money' " donated to him, everyone knows "money is the root of all evil", Yet these pastors gred for money from people continue to enslave the mind of others.

This man never preached the... (Below threshold)
Breck A:

This man never preached the gospel. His yap about a new reformation based on self-esteem has no scriptual backing, only a handful of scriptures grossly taken out of balance and stressed to absurdity. His silly empire is falling because of God’s judgment, does anyone have eyes that see?

If somehow it survives, through “better business management,” or “more astute marketing,” or whatever, its even-sillier materialism will be of itself an even-greater judgment; a living satire; a testimony to christianoid nihilism with praise to merchandising techniques, and greater yet will be it’s punishment. Schuller needs to simply repent and re-learn the gospel. God needs no stupid crystal building.




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