Friday, June 10, 2011

Integrity of messenger enhances the message

NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY: God's message is enhanced and believable with messangers of integrity ! !

Family-founded church dynasties seldom last more than one generation. The latest evidence of that being the resignation and retirement of Rev. Robert H. Schuller, famous for his television “Hour of Power” and the beautiful Crystal Cathedral worship center.

Last October the Crystal Cathedral church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. At the time of filing, the church owed $7.5 million to creditors. Not the best testimony for being good stewards of the Lord’s money. Not the best example of how to spread the Good News propounded by an unemployed carpenter (some say stone mason) from Nazareth.

According to the Religious News Service, The Crystal Cathedral has announced plans to sell its iconic glass-walled church in Southern California to pay back creditors and overcome bankruptcy.

The tall pastor Schuller built a mega church from a humble drive-in church service. I say “tall,” because at 6 feet 2 inches I had to look up to him when we met in Shanghai years ago. He was and probably remains one of the most positive and charming people you would ever want to meet.

Schuller’s Hour of Power television program is not only one of the longest-lasting, but one of the more respected family-owned Protestant religious gatherings.

When the founder Robert H. Schuller retired he did not bestow the preaching mantle on his son, Robert A. Schuller. This resulted in the son leaving the father’s church. Robert A.’s sister, Rev. Sheila Schuller Coleman, was made senior pastor and primary preacher. Neither of the siblings had the drawing power of the father. Crowds and offerings are not up to expectations.

The reorganization plan has Senior Pastor and Chief Executive Sheila Schuller Coleman receiving a salary of around $70,000 a year. The church also hired a chief financial officer for $300,000 a year. It cost a lot more to live in Southern California.
The Crystal Cathedral has been torn by controversy since the departure of Robert H. Schuller. Such is often the unfortunate situation with the demise of religious family dynasties.

The prominent ministry and organization of evangelist Billy Graham had a sixty year run. He and Ruth Graham’s children were normal kids and so are their grandkids; not involved in carrying the organization on. Graham’s example of a minister called for a special task during a special period of time is unique. He and his team still stand head and shoulders above any public ministry in the 20th century. Such is the great need for evangelism in the 21st century.

After Billy Graham’s son, evangelist Franklin Graham, recently questioned if Obama was a Christian, Dallas mega church pastor T.D. Jakes urged the young Graham to apologize.

Jakes said: "I wish [Franklin Graham] had the diplomacy of his father, who brought the gospel to people without being nuanced by politics because when you do those things you offend people that you are actually called to save and to serve, … and I would hope that he would see the rationale in apologizing for such statements – because if the president's faith is suspect, then all of our faiths are suspect, because the Bible is quite clear about what it takes to be saved and the president has been quite open about his accepting Christ and him openly confessing it before men."

Bishop Jakes knows whereof he speaks. In the history of American Christianity, no evangelistic team has had as long and as scandal-free a ministry as that of Billy Graham, Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea. These men were not setting up a dynasty. There was integrity in their method which advanced the integrity of the message. “I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore and be holy; for I am holy.” (Leviticus 11:45)

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