Schuller's Son Booted, then Leaves

Schuller's Son Booted, then Leaves December 15, 2008

File this in the “could’ve seen this coming” file.

I remember watching the Hour of Power on TV in January, 2006, and seeing, amid great pomp and ceremony, Robert Schuller pass on the gold medal (?!?) that signifies leadership of the Crystal Cathedral to his son…Robert Schuller.  (Freudian therapists take note.)  I don’t make a habit of watching that show, but I remember flipping by and seeing Richard Mouw, the president of my alma mater, Fuller Seminary, on the dias, assisting with the transition of power.

Well, it seems that in the Crystal Cathedral system, the senior pastor (son) doesn’t hold ultimate power.  The chairman of the board (dad) does.  (Or maybe the board of directors, going over dad’s head — it remains unclear.)

In a move that the Robert the Younger calls “surreal,” Robert the Elder ousted his son from the pulpit.

Robert the Younger has announced that he will plant his own church.

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  • It’s as if daddy Schuller didn’t know about rule #1 in pastoral ministry… when you retire you need to stop leading. Why am I not surprised about the church plant deal? Isn’t that what every fired pastor ought to do? Prove his disgrace wrong by planting a church in that churches backyard! If that’s what happens he joins a long list, doesn’t he?

  • Erik U.

    Seems like a very scriptural way to be about the transfer of power. I think it’s in Luke where Jesus says, “If you have a problem with someone, especially your son, go behind their back and fire them without recourse or explanation.” As far as the church plant thing goes – what a great way to make ministry all about the pastor. Clearly the younger Schuller has a bunch of unhealthy baggage that will motivate him to grow a church, aside from our call to make disciples.
    I wonder what Christmas around the Schuller household will look like…

  • Jeff

    Sounds like we should all be praying for the reconciliation of this father and son rather than rejoicing at another mega church pastor going down in flames …

  • JonAtFaithUCC

    Jeff: Who’s rejoicing?

  • This episode does point out the difficulty in trying to pass on church leadership as a family legacy. It’s not worked well in the past, and it likely won’t work in the future.
    But it’s not just father/son pastor transfers. Any time a pastor retires but doesn’t let go of the reins, the successor falters. That’s why most mainline churches require or encourage pastors to vamoose! Besides that, to interfere in the ministry of one’s successor is a serious breach of clergy ethics.