Schuler Senior dumps Schuler Junior

When the money gets tight will the Boomers follow Papa Schuler's model and dump the younger generations?

Keith Drury


Dan said...

The rumblings are starting at the church I attend. We may add an '80's (we aren't self-deluded enough to call it "contemporary")service as an "alternative service." Why not have a "Best Years Fellowship" service if there is enough interest? Are we open minded enough to embrace the old timers?

shilohpj said...

I am currently serving a church full of 80 somethings. 80 years ago our church was a prysbeterian. it closed and a few charter members; still alive today restarted it, but renamed it as a community church.(although still very much prysbeterian). Still is a little but they won't admit it. They hired me, a 29 year old pastor, as the last ditch effort to grow. But, I would never dream of pitching their 80 something service for a "contemporary" or let a long a modern service or seeker sensitive service. I'm afraid to offer them coffee and donuts at this point. I asked once at a Bible study, "Tell me all you know about Ezekiel in 5 minutes." One lady raised her hand and said, "Oooh, Oooh, I know. Ezekiel was carried to heaven in a whirlwind of fire." I nicely reminded her that it wasn't Ezekiel but Elijah. They've grown up in this church and still don't know the Bible; yet they have 40 Sunday School pins from perfect attendance. I'm not sure what they want. They tell me they want young people and young families but I know they don't realize what they ask for. They don't understand that the way they are doing church is a major turn of to young people; including their young pastor who just goes through the motions until the sermon and then tries to pump life into them. But, they have millions in the bank and can go on like this forever. I just hope I can connect with some jr. berries while I'm here and slowly bring about change like erosion. If I can keep the change agents from polarizing I'll be in good shape in about 5 years. Lord willing.

Thanks for this insightful post.

Kevin Wright said...

If boomers do attempt to "take things back," perhaps it will encourage emergents to finally open up their wallets. In other words, if you want a place at the table, put your money down and show us that you're serious. It's interesting to me that many large churches still lean on the support of its most senior and gray-haired members while the young people eat up a disproportionate amount of resources in relation to their actual giving. I've found this to be true in two large churches in which I have served.

Bobby Schuller said...

Only time will tell...but I don't think it has anything to do with old timers and youngsters. That's just one man's opinion.

Burton Webb said...

What will my church do - interesting question... I wish I could predict. There is a strong movement among the 40 - 50's crowd to move things back to the 80s. I see it more in Sunday School than in the church service. Perhaps this is because sermons are generally doctrine light and Sunday School can dig a little deeper.

Like many larger churches we have gone to multiple venues. Different styles of worship with the same teaching, done by our senior pastor. He is a master of staying current with the culture - eg. we now have a way to send text messages to him during the sermon. He will receive them on a laptop and respond to questions in the flow of the moment. Could be a gimmick, but there is texting going on during the sermon anyway, why not focus some of it around the message.

I suspect that we will continue down the path we are going until the time comes to call another pastor. His leadership has been blessed by God and we pray that he continues to bless. Our worship pastor may have a more profound affect on the changes in Sunday morning. He is a "blended" guy with a strong bent toward choral music. We will see whether this approach will continue to stand the test of time.

Isn't it the call of each younger generation to re-examine the beliefs and practices of the previous generation? Isn't it a harbinger of the ultimate demise of a ministry when the youth does not take over control/responsibility?

james petticrew said...

The only thing I remember about the hour of power from our year in the States was a very perceptive remark from my 9 year old son. On the 4th of July service he said "dad look they covered over the cross with a giant starts and stripes." Seems to me that the cross has been covered in that church for a while if as you say the son was being innovative by "using more Bible, giving more emphasis to the gospel and providing a smidgen less entertainment and pop psychology." I am for the Son! It will be interesting to see what people like Bill Hybels makes of this. Are they willing to preach in a church where someone of their generation got the chop for preaching more about the bible and the cross?
I thank the Lord so often that religious tv never took off over here in the UK.

Chap said...

The boomer generation, in my opinion has watched the builder generation control everything (unnecessarily) and do not want to make the same mistakes.

They are much more willing to allow a new generation lead.

This has been my experience as an Xer and obviously doesn't fit nicely in everyone else's church setting.

Hugh said...

Schueler should have dumped junior a long time ago, or never have installed him into the position. Not because he wants to preach from the Bible, which has never been a problem at the big glass church. It's just this: RAS doesn't quite seem to fit comfortably into his father's shoes. I've been changing the channel when jr. was hosting the program because he makes me nervous - can't quite put my finger on it except that it feels awkward to watch him. Maybe it's because he's trying too hard to be his dad. Having great preaching may work for this ministry - we'll see. Our church is mainly younger people, but we have older ones who would rather pour their resources into reaching this 20 something mission field. Other churches will just keep going the way they've always gone until the last funeral.

John Mark said...

As is typical of your blog, the comments are as interesting as the original article. Shilohpj made me laugh out loud. Kevin Wright is always insightful: here in my church, which is 75 years old, it is the 55 and up crowd who (I think, I don't see tithe checks) pay the bills. I don't know if it is possible to get back to the era before the Praise and Worship/Church Growth movements, it would be refreshing if we could.
However, I wonder....
Is the whole thing at Crystal Cathedral simply a generational issue, or is it more of a doctrinal issue? Is this kind of thing being played out anywhere else, or might it be sometime in the future? It seems to me that older people are far more tolerant than younger when it comes to "putting up" with music, etc, they don't really like.

Keith Drury said...

Great insights already! Thanks!

SIDE NOTE: Just a link here on the past column on the
implications of the recession on churches

Pastor Al said...

Both our finest workers and givers are the 70's-80's crowd...called more respectfully, the Builder Generation, at GWC. They are not impossible to replace, it just takes three to four younger additionals to replenish their commitment. Health and life-span are the only real drawbacks to serving these fine people.

We are scambling to move forward, knowing that some of our most dedicated Christians will not be with us in the near stretch. Whether you agree with me or not, they will be missed. I find many seniors are more flexible, tolerant and wholistic than their younger counterparts. They naturally show respect and demonstrate loyalty. I think Christ provides a way to age well...beyond the means of their secular peers.

If you don't want your older saints...they are welcome here! We are a multi-generational and multi-cultural church...or we are not practising Christianity.

PK said...

I wonder if fear might be the prime motivation for Dr. Schuler to step back in? Has the "younger" Schuler been a good steward of what he was "handed"? Perhaps when compared to deep Biblical preaching, the Crystal Cathedral programming over the long run has been somewhat watered-down to exegesis experts? Still, when compared to everything else on tv (and elsewhere) "The Hour of Power" may actually be "good news"? I think Dr. Schuler has been (over the years) to the world of broadcasting maybe what the National Geographic has been to the world of publications, in that, their mission seems similar: "Celebrate what's right in the world." Maybe? Maybe not? Anyway, as a pastor of a church where "PRAISE THE LORD" all generations are still at the table (and Calvary is still preached) I, for one, can only testify that "we really do need each other!" It's sad when we forget this truth -- no matter which end of the cradle-to-the-grave parentheses we happen to be at. Whether a church has lost the past generation or the present, I believe God's heart is broken by such a verdict. God forbid!

Anonymous said...

You have to give him credit, I've never heard him be hateful or nasty about other christians or another pastor. Something that cannot be said of almost all holiness and conservative "chrisitans", especially pastors!

It says you will know them by their love and not their hatefulness!

Mt. Dew said...

We are experiencing an interesting phenomenon. There is real power in what the emergent Church is advocating but (like every early group) they want their cake and eat it too.

We (as a generation) are unwilling to work hard and sacrifice some things to advance our causes. We would rather earn less money and have more friends than earn more money and have fewer friends (not that either are intrinsically wrong- but it is wrong that we won't sacrifice comforts for ideals).

I think the older generation sees this and is: a. frustrated by our lack of passion; b. takes advantage of this and says, "Well, if they won't TAKE it, I'm not GIVING it."

... and you are right, Coach. It will fail. While I no longer see the world so black-and-white as I used to, I do hold to a hard work ethic.

The sad thing is that if we (Emergents) don't start putting up and the 80somethings do start taking the church back then we will continue to miss our opportunity to minister to the most de-churched and un-churched generation in American history (furthering their argument that the church is simply not relevant).

Great post.

harris180 said...

It's unbelievable that I've been a Youth Pastor for 18 years at the same church. I have learned that there are things that never change.

1. Sin has never changed. What was sin many, many years ago is still sin to day.

2. The need of a Savior is still there. That Message is still as powerful as it was many, many years ago.

3. There will always be people around me that need that message of love, grace, compassion, understanding, and forgiveness.

4. The need for the people of God to live that out in their words and actions to the church and non-church as never changed.

5. What is sad is that the church still fights over the same dumb things.

6. What is sad is that the younger generation thinks they can do it better than the old generation and the old generation thinks the younger generation is going to wreck the church and destroy what they created. This hasn't changed in the last several years as well.

7. The church has never been perfect.

What I'm I trying to say:

If Jesus was here today he would still be putting the church in it's place and reaching out with compassion to the lost and dieing.

This isn't missional, emergent, or what ever else we try to come up with. It is simply being Jesus to a lost and dieing world and that has never changed.

Yes in the last 18 years of being a Youth Pastor I have changed many times in how I did things to reach out to students programing wise. Yet, what I've come to find out is the programing is secondary to connecting, loving, and investing in a life with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The goal of the Church is not to get members committed to a style or program but committed to a life style of Jesus.

God's word always gives you the balance in how things should be. Maybe we need to do less reading of books and going to the latest conference and be more of men and women of one book.

It's really not that hard to know what the church should do in reaching a lost and dieing world. It has never changed.

Michael Cline said...

Do you just implicitly label the young Schuler an "emergent middle ager?" Man, we throw the word emergent around like it's the new "evangelical."

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Kevin. I think my generation has a lot to add to ecclesial life and has a storehouse of good leaders and ideas, but lacks commitment and know-how. I throw myself in that mix, by the way.
But one thing I have discovered in my current place of ministry is just how much all of our generational stereotypes are misleading. I know what Barna says. And I get the fact that we have to generalize in order to communicate on a significant level. But let's just make sure that we realize that many young adults (25 and under)could care less about "community" and "social action" and many senior citizens are aching for an aesthetic makeover in worship and are all about consuming less than their fair share.

It just depends on who you have in front of you.