Friday, January 18, 2008


I got kicked out of the Crystal Cathedral! This is not a misprint. I really did. Yes, that model of seeker sensitivity. The leader, Robert H. Schuller (not to be mistaken for Robert A. Schuller) who set the pace for innovation and Possibility Thinking. This was that very Cathedral.

Let me explain. I am currently participating in the second of three residencies for my DMin program at Talbot Seminary. This institution is a mere twelve miles, or so, from Garden Grove the home of the Glass edifice. I actually have been to the Cathedral campus several times. I love the place. It is a world unto itself. Quiet and serene! Dr. Schuller, the elder, had built the Center for Possibility Thinking. I had wanted to explore this particular building. Being this close I had to make the trek.

I figured visiting on a Friday afternoon I would have the place, virtually, to myself. Arriving I discovered I was not alone. It seems the ReThink Conference (I have heard of this conference, but so concludes my knowledge of this event) was in progress. Not only was I not alone on this sprawling campus I was, as far as I could see, the lone non-badge wearing campus crawler.

Undaunted, I headed directly to the Center for Possibility Thinking. It was a beautiful building: Open and airy. It had a casual atmosphere. It contained encouraging scripture and quotes that stirred my imagination beckoning me to think differently. I was reminded again why I love this place.

Finishing my exploration of the Possibility facility I backtracked across the large central mall area. There was a Plenary Session beginning in the Cathedral itself. A rear door stood open. I thought I might step in and simply listen for a few moments.

No sooner inside, an elderly (meaning older than me) lady approached me. She wore a red blazer with an insignia. That jacket and her confidant approach signaled she was in an `official’ capacity.

“May I see your badge?” She asked already knowing my answer.
“I don’t have a badge. I am not part of this conference.”
“I will have to ask you to leave.”
“I wanted to stand back here for just a few moments and listen.”
“I’m sorry, but I was told not to allow anyone in without a badge.”
Turning to leave, I looked at her and said, “You have a brutal job!”

Making my way back to my car, I thought even the Crystal Cathedral has its limits to welcoming. I wondered if that particular session might have been about churches and Christ followers being aware and open to sojourners.

She meant no harm. I took no offense. But how often do churches, subtly, ask folks to leave because they don’t have their “badge?”
The badges are different. It might be the badge of spiritual maturity. It could be the badge of holiness. It possibly could be the badge of proper attire, correct language, fundamental doctrine, or modern thinking.

How often do we unintentionally not allow folks to hang in the back, or float on the fringe just to listen until we see their badge? Probably more than we would care to admit. Well I need to be on my way. I want to dig my badge out for church this Sunday.


Paul Martin said...

Great article, Phil! One of the things me, and the church I attend need to improve. Very interesting post.

Paul Martin,

Chris in MI said...

Wow! Very good thought provoking post. I think I'll use it at an upcoming lesson on being authentic with everyone. Thanks