Author, When You Are Down to Nothing, God is Up To Something (2012)
Former Sr. Pastor, Crystal Cathedral, Garden Grove, CA
Author of 13 books
Chairman of Comstar Media Fund since 2009, which owns FamilyNet and American Life Network (ALN, now Youtoo TV)
Married to Donna, Four Grown Children
Robert A. Schuller: God is Up to Something
The 700 Club
UNEXPECTED LIFE CHANGE
Robert was visibly dis-associated as the senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in 2008. Robert says he thought he knew what his life journey would be. He came to realize that when life doesn’t go as planned you must discover how to let go and trust that God is in control. He didn’t realize as his life fell apart that God wanted him to forge his own path. Robert now works in new media with the co-founder of Godtube.com (and his son-in-law), Chris Wyatt, to create ComStar Media.
His motivation to write When You are Down to Nothing, God is Up to Something is to give hope and motivate people during these tough times. Robert says our nation is going through tough times. People are losing everything and having to start over again, like people having to start new careers at age 60. Some individuals are down to nothing. In sharing his story and the lessons he learned he would like to give hope and motivate people – this is a hope-building book.
END OF AN ERA
In 1955, Robert H. Schuller started his ministry with a $500 loan preaching from the top of a snack bar at a drive in movie theater. In 1980, he dedicated the Crystal Cathedral. After a series of financial setbacks thirty-two years later, the Crystal Cathedral ministry filed for bankruptcy in October 2010 and they were forced to sell the campus. The building was sold to the Catholic diocese of Orange County in February 2012, which is letting the Protestant congregation continue to worship in the building for three years. The sale of the monumental church was looked at as a new beginning for the Crystal Cathedral congregation and the ministry seemed hopeful.
Also in February, Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman was removed from her position as the CEO and president of the ministries. In March, Robert H. Schuller’s daughter Gretchen Penner and her husband were terminated from their positions as producers on the Hour of Power. Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman’s husband was also fired from his position. The Rev. Robert H. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, refrained from the board vote on these decisions. Soon after, the elder Schullers sadly resigned from the Crystal Cathedral board of directors. In an article from the Orange County Register, Robert A. Schuller was quoted as saying that he thought the changes in leadership was a smart move. At the time, he was unaware of the terminations. He is not in touch with his two sisters Gretchen Penner or Schuller Coleman. When he did see his parents around that time, they did not mention the board vote. Robert thought the decision about Hour of Power was a positive thing. His understanding at the time was that the reason people stopped supporting the ministry was that they didn’t care for the music and the preaching. He saw it as an opportunity to give people what they wanted, which would bring them back.
DOWN TO NOTHING
As for Robert’s exit from the Crystal Cathedral, he only had his positions as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral and host of the Hour of Power TV show for about three years before the ministry board greatly decreased his responsibilities in July 2008. Robert says before that time his life was moving in a positive direction and seemed to be unfolding as planned. He had been senior pastor of the church since 2006. That same month, his father told the congregation that Robert would no longer be preaching on the weekly Hour of Power broadcast. Robert was quoted as saying, “God unexpectedly and radically began changing the direction of my life in July 2008 when the first in a series of decisions—not of my own accord—was made that turned my world upside down.” By early September, Robert was completely removed from the Hour of Power television broadcast and in October, he was replaced as leader of the Sunday morning worship service at Crystal Cathedral. In November, he resigned from his position as Senior Pastor. “I would be less than honest if I said I did not struggle with intense feelings of betrayal and confusion and frequently found myself crying out to God,” says Robert. “If there was ever a time when I felt like disconnecting from God and others, that was it.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF FORGIVENESS
From Robert’s perspective, there were numerous reasons he could justify unforgiveness in his departure from the Crystal Cathedral. What made it difficult was it was close family members – his parents and some of his siblings – that were involved in this change. He came to realize it was his responsibility to forgive everything he perceived to be wrong on anyone else’s part. He decided to forgive any and all actions or motivations that he perceived to be wrong. Also, to work toward reestablishing relationships with his family (he says they are not completely there yet, but hopes one day they will – healing takes time). Finally, he decided to learn from the situation in regards to future relationships and associations – he will not make the same mistakes in ministry or business dealings.
Robert says if you don’t forgive people the only one you hurt is yourself. Unforgiveness diminishes your life. You need to forgive as soon as you can. It is a constant process to forgive. The more time you let go by, the more unforgiveness continues to cause damage in your life. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you ever really forget what happened. You just choose to release yourself and the offender and experience freedom. Even with serious offenses Robert says to forgive. Though the transition was a painful one, he is often reminded about the new and exciting ways God is still faithful. “Good things are often birthed from adversity,” says Robert. While preaching was the primary way Robert felt he could bring about change in the lives of people and society, he believes God has given him an even greater way by using the new media of society: social networking.
GOD IS UP TO SOMETHING
Even before his time with the Crystal Cathedral was finished, Robert saw that God was up to something. In June 2008, a month before he found out that his positions at the Crystal Cathedral were coming to an end, he met with a group of Asian businessmen. They were part of the ownership team of a cable TV network called American Life Network (ALN). It featured twenty-four hours of family-friendly programming. They had eleven million subscribers nationwide. In November 2008, Robert was out of work but he reconnected with the owners of ALN. He says it was a perfect fit. Early in 2009, Robert, Chris Wyatt, and a team that they formed acquired ALN during a time when the economy was down and no one was buying anything. Robert realized that broadcast pulpit preaching was not effectively reaching the younger generation so they decided to embark on this business together. They integrated an existing television network and companion video web site using cutting-edge technology. Since then, ALN has rebranded itself to YoutooTV, a social television service, allowing viewers to participate in television programming using personal electronic devices. Award-winning TV producer Mark Burnett got onboard as one of Youtoo TV’s creators. Interactive features of the TV service include the ability for viewers to create and submit 15-second videos, called "Fame Spots", commenting on a variety of subjects, which will air. It still offers some “retro” programming, like The Green Hornet TV show. It also carries programming such as Diggnation, Revision3, Howcast and Christopher Coppola's Digivangelist Show. There will be new TV versions of Web series including GeekBeat.TV, Koldcast, and Rooftop Media. Some interactive programs will include Say Yes & Marry Me, which will offer viewers the opportunity to propose marriage on-air via Fame Spots. Robert believes social networking is a powerful, modern phenomena. “Don’t let a temporal way to connect be a poor substitute for an eternal way,” he says. “Without first being connected vertically to God, all the social networking contacts in the world won’t be enough.”
HOPE IS KEY
Robert says when you are “down to nothing,” hope is a key ingredient. If you’re down to nothing, get down on your knees and go to Jesus and He’ll plant those seeds of hope in you…even a mustard seed of faith. God will move mountains. He will take nothingness and turn it into something. Build your hope and your faith in God and you will grow into the person God wants them to be. God has a plan and He will carry it to completion. Hold on to hope. If you have a little hope, you have everything you need.
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