Whether this is true I have don’t know. I am not an economist, business person or a prophet, so this is above my pay grade. Nevertheless many in the church have picked up on this idea and talk a great deal about “the worship experience.” They strive to create some sort of “experience” for those who attend services at their churches. However, I was surprised to learn that Gilmore believes the church absolutely should not seek to “market” that way. In his book, The Divine Commodity, Skye Jethani related parts of a conversation Gilmore had with several Christian leaders. In the conversation Gilmore said the church “should never try to stage a God experience.” This caught some in the conversation off guard and they asked if the church shouldn’t make an effort to make sure people are “getting an experience, an encounter with God through worship.”
At that point some objected that if we don’t offer consumers in our nation what they are looking for we will have no opportunity to impact them. Again Gilmore had a wise answer. “The only thing…the church has to offer is the gospel. I believe that as a result of the emerging Experience Economy people will be longing for authenticity. To the extent that the church stages…experiences, it will lose its effectiveness.” That is so totally true. As people in our world are exposed to more and more manufactured and staged “experiences,” at some point they will find themselves longing for something real, not staged. What they need to experience is the gospel of grace, and the worship and fellowship of people impacted by that gospel who are in awe of God.
I believe that we in the church should do all we can to offer to God worship and service that is the best we can give. We should strive for excellence in our music, in our teaching, in our ministering to one another to the best of our ability. But we must never forget that all of it is designed to offer to God the sacrifice of praise. It is about loving him. This is what we are called to do. But it is also what the world needs. What the world is thirsty for is grace and knowing God. What is most important is that we have an authentic walk with God in grace, and that we gather with joy to express our love and praise to him in simplicity. Anything else will ultimately be hollow.