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The Pastorpreneur

from The Economist

Robert Schuller, who died on April 2, was the leading example of a very American breed of businessperson: The pastorpreneur. He succeeded by applying the principles of business to religion. However, in his later years, a religious empire that had grown huge by embracing economies of scale and customer focus fell victim to two familiar causes of business failure: Poor succession planning, and a failure to react to dynamic new competitors. Mr. Schuller preached from the roof of a hot-dog stand. The audience sat in their cars and listened via tiny speakers. As his audience grew and the tithes rolled in, Mr. Schuller abandoned his hot-dog stand. In 1961, he built a bricks-and-mortar "walk-in, drive-in" church. In 1970, he began broadcasting his "Hour of Power." In 1980, his flock still swelling, he built his $20 million Crystal Cathedral. more

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