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Keeping It Real

Can staged worship "experiences" lead to a false gospel?

James Gilmore is co-author (with Joseph Pine II) of Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want (Harvard Business School Press, 2007). Gilmore is a Christian who views himself as "solidly reformed" and has spoken at a number of ministry conferences. In his first Leadership interview in 2001, Gilmore took our editors on a tour of Starbucks, ESPN Zone, and American Girl to demonstrate "the experience economy." Now Gilmore says beyond the created "experience," people are looking for authenticity. Here, in his own words, he tells us what that has to do–or not do–with the church.

Our new book talks about how different consumer sensibilities have emerged with the rise of different economies. With the shift from an agrarian to an industrial economy, cost emerged as the primary factor in buying. In going from an industrial economy to a service economy, the dominant concern became quality. Now, as we move into an experience economy where practically everything is staged, consumers seek ...

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