Dear Penrod Reader,

A few comments before we begin.  What follows is not of interest to everyone.

If you are a local congregant, happy with your weekly worship at Shepherd’s Grove and unconcerned about other matters, this is not for you.  You should continue to be blessed with your fellowship and the quiet enjoyment of the services.

If you are a Penrod reader from somewhere else and you come to this site to learn about this ministry, this is an editorial. Which means it is clearly labeled as opinion, mine.  Should you read things here that concern you, I would encourage you to read – carefully – what others write and form your own opinions.

There is nothing here that I am writing because I feel the need to say mean things. To the contrary I’ve invested my time in this because I care deeply about the legacy of this beloved ministry and I would like to see it succeed.

Respectfully,

      Jim Kirkland


WILL THE REAL ROBERT VERNON PLEASE STAND UP!

Part Two

I only met Bobby Schuller personally last year.  I’ve watched him grow and mature since he was born, but I saw him as “another Schuller,”  aloof; distant; too busy with more important things to know most people in the local congregation. I was wrong.

One of my friends told me “Bobby would like you to know him for who he is, not just as a Schuller.”  We spent time together, and I came away very impressed.  The Bobby I met was open, caring, energetic, friendly – all the things I wanted him to be.  At that time there were a number of people still going through a healing process and I think he helped us get past that, so we could move on.

At the same time Bobby was going through a time of change, too.  He had been serving CCM as a volunteer and leading Tree of Life as Pastor with minimal compensation – no regular paycheck from either ministry.  Suddenly, he started showing up with new ties, then new suits, and before long a new car and a paycheck.  All from one influential donor.

Quickly Bobby changed, becoming the person I had first envisioned.  I became someone who was only useful to him and his ministry if I agreed with everything he and his donor said and did.  Most of my emails went unanswered. The only time I hear from  him now is  when he wants to tell me how much I am “hurting” the ministry by asking questions and letting people know what is going on.

What happened?  Bobby surrounded himself with a small inner circle of people who tell him how great he is. This, and the money went to his head!  It is painful for those of us who care to watch.

Several people who work with him regularly put it this way – “He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.”

I don’t talk to everyone in the congregation, but the people I know all say the same thing – Bobby has changed, and no one likes what they see.  This includes Board members – even people close to the donor.

Everyone agrees that there’s a solution. Bobby needs a mentor – badly.  He’s young and he has immense potential, but I (and many others) fear that he is on a dangerous path, guided by people who have their own self-interest replacing good judgment.  He can’t grow into the role he deserves without help.  The same help that made his grandfather what he became.

I need to pause here and point out that this is only partially Bobby’s fault.  Let’s put ourselves in his shoes for a moment.  What would you do if you went to a staff gathering and one of your esteemed leaders stands up in front of the group and asks everyone to applaud Bobby for “saving the ministry”?  I’m sure Bobby was appalled – what could he do?  Then his donor regularly disrupts the monthly Friday meetings with her “I see Jesus in your eyes” rants, embarrassing everyone.  What is he to do?  That’s his paycheck talking!

I’ll go a step further.  If we sit back and do nothing, we’re responsible, too.  Bobby is worth our support, and we’re not helping him if we let this continue.

Let’s all follow Bobby’s own teaching from this week’s message – always be true to your conscience!

Bobby, if you follow this advice, everything will be fine.


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