Seth Godin (American entrepreneur, author and public speaker, who focuses on marketing) says this in a recent blog:
Rule one: You can build a business on the foundation of great customer service.
Rule two: The only way to do great customer service is to treat different customers differently.
The question that Godin asks, and the question for the church, too, is: Who is your customer?It's not obvious.
At first one might say that the congregation is our customer - the people who come to worship at the church - those who pray and sing and participate in all those programs we plan.
But doesn't that go against that whole song of "I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together."?
If the church is the people, then those who come to church and who are a part of your church are not the customer. (One problem with the church is that we treat ourselves as if we are the customer, making us the recipients of quality and planning things that will keep us - the board that the leadership - active in our own organization.)
Others might answer the question by saying that God is the customer.After all, it works for the whole "audience vs. performer" imagery. When we worship, God is our audience and we are the performers. If God is the audience, then one might think that this also makes God our customer.
But that can't be right. God, through the Holy Spirit, gave birth to the Church. Jesus calls the Church his bride. The Church is a partner with God in the building up of the kingdom. God is not our customer.
Who does that leave? If those who come to church are not the customer and God is not our customer, then who is left to be a customer of the Church?
The hint is in Godin's rules - "You can build a business (ministry) on the foundation of great customer service."
Service. The Church's customers are those we are called to serve.
God points to our customers all through scripture, telling us to take care of the widows and the orphans, the poor and the hungry, the castouts and the disenfranchised. The Church is here to serve and to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ through such service to others - to our customers.
This understanding of the customer brings understanding and clarity to Godin's second rule - "The only way to do great customer service is to treat different customers differently."
Of course! Each person the Church serves is a unique child of God with his or her own needs. The Church is called to serve those needs...individually. The way we do that is by going out to where those individuals are and helping them see the community of faith is there to serve them - that God is present with them in their unique situation.
A business loses its focus when it forgets the customer and starts to serve itself. In what ways are you involved in bringing the business of the Church to the customer?