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Bobby Schuller Talks Starting Over, Returning to Crystal Cathedral

Bobby Schuller, the son of former pastor Robert A. Schuller, spoke to Lawrence Wilkes of The Crystal Cathedral's "Hour of Power" television program to discuss life after leaving the famous ministry founded by his grandfather, and the challenges he faced starting his own church from the ground up.

Schuller is the grandson of the Rev. Robert H. Schuller who started the Crystal Cathedral Ministries as a start-up congregation in a Garden Grove, Calif., drive-in movie theater five decades ago.

Bobby Schuller was active in the church, running Crystal Cathedral's Gathering Community Ministry, but left the famously opulent campus in 2009 with his wife Hannah to begin his own journey into starting a church from the ground up, he told Wilkes.

"When we first left, we weren't really sure what to do. In fact, we left with only a few hundred dollars," the 30-year-old pastor and father of two shared.

A few hundred dollars turned into The Gathering Community Church -- a low-key church that gathered at an American Legions Hall near the massive Crystal Cathedral campus. The Gathering Community focused on relating to younger generations of Christians with its low-key "real life" approach to worship where "messy people with messy lives" could feel welcome, Schuller told the Los Angeles Times in 2010.

At the time, Schuller also said the goal of his new church, where 90 percent of donations went to social justice issues, was to foster a sense of community and to "make big Christians, not big churches."

"I think it was good for me as a pastor to be able to have a church with all the things you face as a leader, so by going out on my own, I had that experience," Schuller told Wilkes of starting the church.

In April of 2011, The Gathering Community Church "synergized" with another local church to become The Tree of Life Community church, still in Orange County.

Beyond being busy starting a new church, Schuller has also recently made an unexpected return to his roots at the Crystal Cathedral to serve as a regular guest speaker.

The return came only months after a highly public split over financial and administrative concerns saw all remaining members of the Schuller family depart from the ministry. Despite the public feud, Schuller told Wilkes that he hopes to see what's left of Crystal Cathedral Ministries thrive.

"I really love the 'Hour of Power,' and one of the things that I hope for is that my kids and even my grandkids will be able to experience the 'Hour of Power,'" the young pastor said.

"I think about my grandpa's legacy and how he changed the church; how he altered the way we view ministry and how this ministry has saved so many lives. So I thought it would be great to come and help."

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