Read a great post from Seth Godin about “Who is your customer?” His examples:
“Zappos is a classic customer service company, and their customer is the person who buys the shoes.
Nike, on the other hand, doesn’t care very much at all about the people who buy the shoes, or even the retailers. They care about the athletes (often famous) that wear the shoes, sometimes for money. They name buildings after these athletes, court them, erect statues…”
It got me to thinking about youth ministry. Who is our customer (who are we serving)?
This is a no brainer, but teens are the first and most direct point of service. We model most of our interaction with them from language, to meeting space, to topics. It revolves around them and reflects their needs. Though there are many varieties of teens, this is the primary user. If teens hate what we are doing, we have a serious problem.
We also on some level try to reach, equip and challenge/motivate parents. We don’t model spaces for them, but we can affect our communication to them. I keep communications short and to the point (and a little less snarky than those for teens). This is where I wear my compassion hat and try to come alongside them.
Arguably a secondary or tertiary customer, the leaders are the guys who pay salaries and commit to staff. We need to communicate a professional vibe to them and keep them in our vision and practices. Trust needs to earned and maintained.
Good youth pastors can focus on one of these and make a great ministry. Great youth pastors can hold all three of these areas together and have a miraculous ministry.