In 2009 my mom, sister, and I made a summer trip to Southern California. We had a great time visiting places such as Disneyland, the Reagan Library, Nixon Library, and Crystal Cathedral.
Photo Credit: Sylvain Leprovost
The hallmark of our visit to So Cal was to the Crystal Cathedral. Crystal Cathedral Ministries started in 1955 by Robert Schuller with 50 people coming to church service. Over the years, the church’s impact in the community increased so so did its ability to erect amazing buildings that can be seen from far away as well as the I-5 freeway. The Crystal Cathedral’s amazing buildings stand as a reminder to others of Christianity and a God who cares for them.
Our visit to the Crystal Cathedral was amazing and memorable While touring the facility I took notes and later reflected on my experience. Reflecting on my notes revealed a few leadership lessons:
- All dreams start out small and are built one seat and one window a time: At Robert Schuller’s first service in 1955 there were about 50 people in attendance and an offering of $83.75. Even though something might look big and successful now it is important to remember that it started small and was built slowly over time.
- God uses his servants to do great things: Touring the facility and seeing such an amazing building with its architecture and items caused me to wonder how such an amazing building could be built. The answer is God and his workers. When God commissions great people to do great things, great things happen.
- Build the foundation and let momentum carry you the rest of the way: Our docent told us a story about how Robert Schuller said in 1977 that the building of the Cathedral was impossible and that they should abandon the project and give back the money they collected for the building. However, the designer of the building assured Mr. Schuller that everything would be okay if they would just build the foundation. The rest is history.
- Break down the big goal into small steps: Our docent also informed us of the way money was raised for the building. You could donate specific amounts to the building to help in a tangible way. For example, you could donate $500 to place a window in the building, $2,500 for a seat, or $5,000 for a stone outside. The actual cost of those items was not $500, $2,500, or $5,000, but using these small steps and measures allowed everyday people to feel they played a tangible and specific part in building the building.
At the time of our visit in 2009 the Crystal Cathedral was owned and ran by Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Sadly, since that time the church property has been sold to another party due to financial troubles and bankruptcy of Crystal Cathedral Ministries. At this time Crystal Cathedral Ministries is changing the name of the church and in the process of moving.
I know that there are some people who think American Church is simply about buildings and programs, and some people even believe that is a bad thing for church. By writing this post I am not advocating for big church buildings or that all churches should do the same as the Crystal Cathedral. I am simply sharing with you some of the obvious lessons about the process that took place in building such an amazing and memorable place that people recognize as a place of Christian worship.
Question: What leadership lessons (good or bad) have you learned from Crystal Cathedral Ministries or Robert Schuller?