Scandal of Church debt

Crystal Cathedral asks vendors for forgiveness | cathedral, vendors, creditors - News - The Orange County Register

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The above link is regarding the current financial difficulties experienced by the Crystal Cathedral in Orange Coutny California.  Many of you will recall that this is the church founded by Robert Schuller who is well known internationally, particularly for his message of positive thinking, grounded in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The article outlines that this "megachurch" has "megadebt".  Despite defaulting with many of their vendors who helped supply things such as exotic animals for opulent productions such as the "Glory of Christmas".  The church has asked its creditors for a 90 day reprieve from legal action while it closes many of its ministries such as daycare, athletic ministries, and camping ministries to pay for the 2+ million dollar debt.  The irony is that is continues to worship in the extravagant Crystal Cathedral with its expensive architecture and furnishing.  It still uses two limosines to usher staff from place to place. 

The lesson is that there is a tendency in churches, such as Crystal Cathedral to misunderstand the ontology of church.  The essence or the being of church.  Church is not the building, but the human and divine connected through the very human and very divine Christ to fulfill his mission.  Its interesting that in times of scarcity, the very first thing that is eliminated are those things that should define the church: Ministry.  Serving and touching others in the power and presence of  Jesus Christ.  Realistically, the building can go.  The limosines can go.  All of those things are temporal.  Ministry on the other hand, has eternal ramifications because it is based on the Word and Will of God.

All churches, particularly in the recent economic environmnet have experienced difficulties balancing budgets.  Hard choices must be made.  However, it is particularly important the we preserve the essence of who we are in Christ, over and against buildings, funds, equipment, and staff.  Those things are important and very useful, but they are not worth salvaging at the expense of ministry.

Jesus said that "Where your treasure is, your heart will be also".  He indicated that a true measure of our passion and priorities can be seen by our budgets.  I encourage you, as a part of your local congregation to take time and prayerfully look at the budget with the purpose of looking to see whether it lines up with the priorities of Jesus.

I challenge you to help your local congregation build a visionary budget (where the vision of Jesus Christ informs our spending) instead of accepting a budgetary visions (this is what we can do based upon what we can raise).  Jesus promises that if we seek first "His Kingdom and His righteousness", that "all" the things we need (not desire, want, or covet) will be given to us.

Let's stand on the promises of Jesus and let the church, be the church!

God bless,

Pastor M Traylor