It is no secret that Robert Schullers' "Crystal Cathedral" (Garden Grove Community Church) has fallen on tough economic times since the recession started in 2008. The OCR has chronicled the financial woes of the Crystal Cathedral - it is a story of unpaid vendors and local businessmen and women facing financial disaster when the Crystal Cathedral is not paying vendors.
A couple of disturbing elements of this news story:
1. Mega-Nepotism is Alive and Well
As reported in the OCR:
"Crystal Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller, his wife Arvella, and their five children and respective spouses will all take a voluntary 50 percent pay cut for the next four pay periods, according to an e-mail from Sheila Schuller Coleman to all cathedral employees."The glaring part of that statement is not that they are taking a 50% pay cut, but that all of the Schuller's according to this news article, ARE ON THE PAYROLL.
Nepotism is a danger to any organization, that is why most companies have a "nepotism" policy outlining the conditions by which close family members can and cannot work in the same organization. Even Jimmy Draper of the SBC wrote about nepotism back in 2005, and he says it is one of the 5 "landmines" pastors need to avoid:
"This [nepotism] is a very sensitive area. When a minister hires his wife, siblings, children, spouses of his children, etc., it opens up some areas of concern. I believe it is inappropriate unless it comes as a demand from the church itself."2. Of Course, Salaries are "Not Available"
One line in the OCR article says:
"The Schullers' salaries are not available."
Really? Where are they?
Why are they not available? They only want to tell us of the generous 50% pay cut, but they would not dare to disclose to their church members or the public at large any raw numbers.
Compensation of mega church pastors who earn six-figure compensation packages are never, ever disclosed. They can't, because they know what would happen to the revenue flow if the donors themselves knew the truth. So people give and give and give.
3. Cutting Ministries Comes Before Cutting Salaries or Staff
While I'm sure the Schuller's are proud of their generosity of giving up 1/2 of their salary for a few months, it is interesting that this did not happen SOONER. Maybe they did take cuts earlier, but the story didn't indicate this is so.
If their wealthy family can afford to give up 1/2 their salary to make up a million dollar shortfall, why did this not happen sooner to help pay vendors?
Are all 12 family members filling essential ministry positions?
The sad reality in today's church - and not just of the mega variety - is that ministry expenditures will often be cut before salaries or professional minister positions that could be filled by lay people are cut....and in some churches ministry gets cut before advertising or marketing expenditures.
Could it be the financial woes at Crystal Cathedral are a sign of things to come for other mega ministries?
Or maybe it's just that the Schuller's didn't preach tithing hard enough.