What would you do with the Crystal Cathedral?

The Crystal Cathedral is up for sale and I just heard that someone bought it for $46 million.

Dang! Maybe some emerging church out there should have bought the 40 acre campus and recycled it into something useful. Although if Randall Balmer is correct in saying that passing on a huge unsustainable megachurch is a generational problem, then it might take a bit of imagination.

But hey – its worth a shot. Let me ask you, since you are young and free.

What would you do with the Crystal Cathedral?

Off the top of my head, I can think of a few things that could be done to transform the Cathedral into a kick-butt emerging church or, even better, a contemporary monastery.

450px Crystal Cathedral on edge

1. Dig up the parking lots, add soil and reticulation and plant stuff that is green and organic. Salad anyone? Yum! Sell the surplus at the famers market and to restaurants and generate some income. Sustainability, anyone??? Need a greenhouse for the seedlings? No problem. The whole church is a flippin’ greenhouse!

2. The interior is huge and just crying for an adventure playground. Add climbing walls, tarzan swings and flying foxes. Dress up as Quasimodo and invite your friends.

CrystalCathedralCover web

3. Pull the pipe organ apart and rearrange it into a whisky distillery. Hmmmmm. And that leftover wood will make a great bar.

4. Turn every second pew into a table. Much better to watch movies when you are eating pizza. Invite the neighbours.

5. ┬áBaptismal. Crystal Cathedral is where the famous Evel Knievel was baptised. You are probably thinking of adding extra heaters and making it into California’s largest jacuzzi. Unfortunately, this church is more of a sprinkling church (like the Lutherans) than a dunking church (like the Baptists) and I don’t think they even have a decent baptismal. Better knock off million from the price.

6. The foyer is huge. What about some temporary shelter for the homeless and potential earthquake shelter should it happen. Social enterprise center?

Anyway, what do you guys think. What would you do with the Crystal Cathedral?


Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • That place is a giant green house, maybe a mini rain forest inside, that would create it’s own climate…
    The monastery idea is great, and welcoming the homeless could be part of the work for sure, and everyone would be welcome to fruit and veg from the newly created garden in exchange for working on the land there.
    Then looking at the potential for amazing light shows using all that glass, great backdrop for an outdoor concert…
    As for the inside, there must be room for a pool too…

  • katja says:

    i would definitely keep the organ. the problem would only be how to protect it from the humidity of the pool and the rain forest. and how to find someone who could play it.

  • may be the organ could be encased in a crystal dome, kind of a crystal cathedral within a crystal cathedral. Would be great to listen to an organ in the rain forest!
    I’m sure someone would play it- there is some great organ music about: something different like this:

  • Tom says:

    A sad tribute to American, modern Christianity. I would make it into a museum so that other mega churches might see their final resting place and so we can learn for our mistakes. Many churches used this chuch as a model for church growth. Even Bill Hybels pointed to things he learned from the growth here. Millions and millions for a house of God that could not hold God anyway.

  • Esther says:

    Yes!!! A museum of church building history that shows the stark contrast between the meaning of God’s church as ekklesia vs. the sorry man-made imitation.

  • Chelle says:

    I think you’re on to something here – all that new age rainforest organ music!

  • Adam Walker says:

    Very well said.

  • Paul Bruggink says:

    Years ago in Lansing, Illinois there was an establishment called “Pipes and Pizza” (or something like that), where customers were entertained by someone playing an elaborate pipe organ while eating pizza. Maybe someone could revive that concept.

  • Andrew says:

    I remember one like that in POrtland, OR called The Organ Grinder. The pizza sucked but the organ was really fun, especially when bubbles came out of the top.

  • Steve Martin says:

    I would buy the place (keep the organ) and get somebody in there who actually knew what the gospel was, and let them preach it.
    Oh that…

  • Der&k says:

    An earthquake shelter in a building made of glass?
    I always thought it would make a great college for window washers…or maybe a post rapture used car dealership for those left behind…

  • Buzz says:

    As if you have the real gospel…you sound just like them, just coming from a different arrogance.

  • Buzz says:

    Now that is funny. But do you think any good came from this church? I do. It is sad to see this happen. But they did great things for many years, and I do believe God was glorified at many points along their journey.

  • This Cathedral is too lavish for my liking but well admit, it looks good..

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