What Will Be The Future of This Ministry? (16/05/04)
by: Robert H. Schuller
a very special anniversary Sunday for me. It was exactly 49 years
ago today that we held our first church service on the snack-bar
rooftop of the Orange Drive-In Theater. And I didn't know if anybody
would be there. So I imported a choir from Los Angeles and told
them, "Please, if you could all come in individual cars ..."
and there were perhaps 50 cars and about as many more people as
was the beginning of something significant. I had a calling to
reach people who didn't go to church, or didn't believe in the
Bible, or Jesus Christ, because I assumed that the Christians
were in their own churches in the area, and the only people who
would come to a drive-in theater would be people who weren't religious.
And that proved to be correct most of the time.
came time for the offering, two volunteers went from car to car
to receive the offering. And that first offering in dollar bills
and coins was $83.75. It was an unusual way to begin a church,
but I just knew we were going to impact the world!
I feel that way? I had no reason to believe in that destiny. Where
did that dream come from? I believe the dream came from the God
I believe in, the God that we read about in the Bible, and the
God that Jesus Christ came to tell us about. I
believe in a big, almighty God! Wow!
Has A Dream For You
this morning to celebrate the 49th anniversary of that event,
I ask you, "Do you have a dream?" I ask that question
especially to the young people in our audience. You don’t
need a great amount of high IQ (intelligence) to be a success.
You don't need a lot of money to be a success. You don't have
to have straight A's on your report cards to be a success. But
you do need a dream, and a desire and a passion for the dream.
I pray that this message this morning will impress you in your
heart and in your life to believe in a God who has a dream for
you. Whether you're 8 years old, or 10 years old, 12, 14, 18,
19 or in your 20’s.
you to know that God has a plan for your
life too! Pray it out. A dream will come. Grasp it. Go
for it. And one word will tie it all together and that's the word
faithfulness. All you need is faithfulness.
is a wonderful parable that Jesus taught. It's called the Parable
of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-29. In my own words, let
me share it with you:
very wealthy, went on a far journey and so he called his servants
and delivered his goods to them. To one servant, he gave 5 talents.
To another 2. To another 1. He gave to each
servant according to his ability and then he left on a
long journey. The servant who had received the 5 talents went
and traded with them and made another 5 talents. And the servant
who had received 2 talents gained 2 more also. But the servant
who received one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his
a long time, the lord of those servants came to settle the accounts.
The servant who had received 5 talents brought 5 more talents,
saying, "Lord, you delivered to me 5 talents, look, I've
gained 5 more talents beside them." His lord replied,
done, good and faithful servant. You are faithful over a few things,
I'll make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your
servant to whom was given 2 talents came and said, "Lord,
you delivered to me 2 talents. Look, I have gained 2 more talents
beside them." And his lord said to him. "Well
done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a
few things. I’ll make you ruler over many things. Enter
into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:23)
servant who received only 1 talent came and said, "Lord,
I know you to be a hard man so I was afraid! I went and hid your
talent in the ground and here, lord, I give it back to you."
Then his lord answered, "Oh, why did you not at least put
it in the bank so it could earn interest? You are an unfaithful
servant." Then the lord turned to his companion and said,
"Take the talent from him and give it to the one who delivered
10 talents back to me." "For to
everyone who has, more will be given. And he will have abundance."
(Matthew 25:29) Wow!
Does God Require of You?
Jesus teaching from this Parable? I believe that He was teaching
that every single living human being is
given a talent, a capability, a gift! And it applies to
every area of life, and not just to the financial area
of your life. But God gives each of us talents. To some
5, others 2, and all of us are given at least one talent that
God wants us to invest in His work. Discover the possibilities
given to you by God. Believe in them. When you get them, they
seem impossible, but we will all meet God someday, and then He
will ask us for an accounting of the dream He has given us.
as we excitedly plan the 50th anniversary celebration of this
church next year, 2005, then we will need to make an account to
God, and give back to Him what He gave us. Forty-nine years ago
God gave us $83.75 to invest in His work. And we have been faithful.
All of you who believed in the dream God gave this church have
been faithful for 49 years. What God has done in this ministry
is an amazing thing. Yes, He has tested us in amazing ways. One
of the most "impossible" assignments was when we outgrew
our first buildings, and had to build a larger place. So this
cathedral was God’s idea. For 6 years I preached from the
rooftop in a drive-in theater and I loved preaching under the
sky, watching the trees sway gently in the breeze and hear the
birds sing. So I didn’t want to build a cathedral unless
I could see the sun, the sky, the trees, and the birds. So today
we have an all-glass cathedral. One man, John Crean believed in
the dream God had given us and gave us one million dollars. That
was a big push from God to have faith. It will happen! But when
the costs went out of sight, I called John Crean and said, "I’m
giving you your money back, the cathedral costs too much."
He objected, "I can't take it back." I gave you one
million dollars so you owe me. Get started! At least dig a hole!
I mean that, dig a hole!" I
think in all the 49 years of this ministry that was the moment
of greatest pressure for me. "Dig a hole." I don’t
even want to remember the feeling. But we dug a hole! We didn't
know what we'd do with it unless more money came and then people
kept giving more money, enough to put in the foundation. Then
a few months later, I’ll never forget the day, the general
contractor came and said, "We need to have 3 million dollars
in the next 30 days or we will have to stop construction."
But we didn’t have the money and we had no loan capability.
would I tell my people when they came to church on Sunday? What
would they say when they heard we were quitting construction?
Every Sunday, they scrambled to get a seat. Even the 1,000 chairs
on the lawn - and the drive-in worship center was crowded to capacity.
So we had our morning program printed. The headlines read, "Crystal
Cathedral Construction Temporarily Halted." ... But it was
our pastors, Howard Kelley, called me and said, "Why don't
we pray for a miracle and believe that we can have a million dollar
offering?" A million dollars? Our normal offering was $50,000.00
or less! That will take a miracle, so that Sunday, we asked everyone
to pray for a million dollar offering. We needed it! And that
million dollar offering was received, plus 2 to 3 hundred thousand
dollars more. The next day, the "Orange County Register",
our local newspaper, came out with this headline: "Miracle
in G. G. – A million dollars for church in one day. Offering
by the Schuller flock sets a record." Yes, the money
came and the cathedral was built. It's a miracle!
Will Be The Future of This Ministry?
planning our 50th anniversary celebration, by preparing for the
next 50 years. Often times people do not think so far into the
future... 40 or 50 years. But, I’ve been thinking into the
next one hundred year period most of my life. I came to this church
to be a pastor here for my entire lifetime, and we planned the
buildings and grounds to last for hundreds of years, and to make
sure that this ministry stays strong. What will the next 50 years
be for this ministry? To begin, my one and only son has been called
by God and has been chosen by the board of the Crystal Cathedral
Ministries to be my successor. For that I praise and thank God.
ask the question, "Who's going to succeed me?" But they
must also ask, "Who’s going to succeed my successor?"
Will it be Robert Schuller III, or another grandchild, such as
Chris Coleman who is also in pre-ministerial studies at Biola
University. I have 18 grandchildren, girls and boys and there
will be great grandchildren who might become the pastors in the
future of this church. That remains to be determined by God. But
I feel a tremendous emotion, because God has planned this church
to be impacting the world for the next 50, 100, 200 years!
been accomplished already through this church is phenomenal because
of the dedicated members and friends we have. I see the results
today of the Institute for Successful Church Leadership which
we dared to launch 35 years ago and it is still going strong.
Here ministers are inspired to believe in their dreams and to
present the good news of the gospel in positive terms. And some
of those students are well-known. Bill Hybels now pastors the
largest church, I think, in the United States, the Willow Creek
Community Church. Bill has often said that there probably would
not be a Willow Creek Church if he hadn’t been able to come
to our pastor’s institute here. I’m so proud of him.
Rick Warren, a pastor who today is phenomenal. He came to our
institute time after time. And in "Christianity Today,"
his wife was quoted as saying, "When we came to that institute,
we were blown away." How God has blessed him. And today Rick
Warren is blessing millions of people. There is also the world’s
largest Methodist Church in Seoul, Korea. The list goes on; Bishop
Blake from downtown Los Angeles. In the current issue of "Time
Magazine," there’s a picture of his church, where his
parishioners include Denzel Washington, Magic Johnson, and other
celebrities from that community. He's changing that part of the
Not only has this ministry impacted churches around the world,
but also God called us into a television ministry. Again I had
no funds. Not even $83.75 to begin that new ministry. But I announced
it to you and you prayed, and made a decision to go for it. Today
the Hour of Power is the longest running televised church service
in the world. It’s seen and translated in the Russian language,
the Chinese language, the German language, the Dutch language,
the English language and Arabic language.
of this ministry has been planned by God to literally shape the
world and you make it possible! It all started 49 years ago when
we said, "Yes" to God, and strangers came and gave an
offering of $83.75.
as we launch the next 50 years of ministry, we are announcing
a campaign that will endow this ministry. The goal is one hundred
million dollars! Impossible? No, I believe that we can raise a
hundred million dollars because when we were a tiny church we
raised one million dollars.
it will come, some in 7 figure gifts because some of you will
leave a gift to us in your final will and estate. Perhaps a tithe
of your entire estate or more. Some of you are going to double
your contributions, even double tithe, because you know that your
gift will shape the future. The next century
will need this Hour of Power with the gospel more than it’s
ever needed it before!
of large gifts have already been received. A 2 million dollar
cash gift from a family that sits in this church every week, Frank
Freed and his wife, Evelyn Freed. They are dedicated to this ministry.
Evelyn sits on our ministry Board.
son and I have been meeting our Eagle Club members in different
cities and 800 people already have pledged $5,000.00. How do they
plan to give that amount? If they give $83.75 a month x 12 months
x five years, it equals exactly $5,000.00! That amazing! Is that
why God allowed the offering on the first Sunday to be $83.75?
I never bothered to multiply it x 52 weeks and 12 months until
now. This is a God thing. You and I are a part of this ministry
and its future is going to be phenomenal.
Gift Will Shape the Future of This Ministry
your church. This is your ministry. And what did Christ say about
the servants who were faithful with their talents? "Well
done! Good and faithful servants." Young people, and
old people, alike. When you and I stand before Jesus and give
an account of what we did with the talents that He gave us, and
we have multiplied them and returned them to Him. He will not
say to you, "Well done, brilliant
servant..." He will not say, "Well done, wealthy
servant ... " He will not say,
"Well done, my powerful political servant."
He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter
into the joy of your Lord." (Matthew 25:21)
word is faithfulness.
can do with what you give Him is amazing.
of us be faithful until our last breath in using the talents and
multiplying them for God’s honor and glory.
there’s an amazing future ahead for this church around the
world. And I thank all the people who made this ministry what
it has been for the past 49 years. What an anniversary this day
is. You give us just an idea. An impossible dream. Then You test
us to see if we will dare to go for the dream, even when we know
it’s impossible. Then the miracles start flowing, and "Unto
whom much is given, much more will be added." Hallelujah.
All of us together, young and old, rich and poor give You a chance
today to multiply the opportunities that come before us.
So, now may the Lord bless you with a dream, with a call, with
an idea that can multiply the resources empowering this church
for the next 50 years. Amen.