Oct 19, 2010

What Can Denominations and the PCUSA Learn From the Crystal Cathedral?

You've seen the headlines: "Crystal Cathedral files for bankruptcy."

Hate to see that said about any church.

Robert Schuller and the Hour of Power programs ministered to thousands of people.

I am sure there were a host of issues that lead to the Crystal Cathedral being where it is today. But, I think one of the major factors was that the leadership of the Crystal Cathedral failed to make the necessary adaptive changes necessary to a rapidly changed and changing culture.

It's not just that there's been a terrible recession. It's not just that a charismatic leader retired. It's that the Crystal Cathedral's model of ministry was perfectly suited for 1970's-1990's America. But the problem is that America has changed. She is no longer the same country as she was.

They could have tinkered with their existing models of ministry and they would still be right where Crystal Cathedral is today.

Because ultimately, I think what would have made the difference is for ministries like Crystal Cathedral to concentrate more on million dollar ministries that impact the community rather than building million dollar facilities.

Our culture is not impressed by crystal cathedrals anymore. Our culture recognizes that there is something inherently not right about investing huge chunks of financial resources into facilities when there are such great needs in the communities those multi-million dollar facilities find themselves in.

I think what our society is looking for are ministries that are investing millions of dollars and countless millions of hours of volunteerism that are focused on compassion initiatives.

This is more than tinkering with a system that based its ministry on gathering people. This is a transformation of the ministry from gathering to dispersing God's people with God's resources into the very world that needs God.

It is precisely this kind of shift that an adaptive change requires which the Crystal Cathedral was not able to make.

What can the PC(USA) learn from this?

The PC(USA) is headed down a very similar path as the Crystal Cathedral unless we learn to make the necessary adaptive changes required for ministry in the emerging culture we find ourselves in.

Adaptive changes require a whole-sale transformation of who we are and what we do as a church. What is needed for the future is a reformation.

The PC(USA) also must shift from a ministry and a church that is centered around the idea of gathering people to become a church and a ministry that is focused on dispersing God's people and God's resources to our communities and the world around us.

And who knows, in the future imminent church, denominations may not even be necessary.

For certain, if there are denominations in the future, they will look nothing like what they do today.

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