Just out of high school, I worked as a pitchman. My job was to speak about products in a compelling way as to make the audience want to purchase what I was presenting. I would set up at flea markets and festivals attempting to draw the largest crowds I possibly could. The larger the group, the more I sold. The lessons I learned from this job have been invaluable to me in ministry.
One such lesson that I am often reminded of is that the immediate audience is not always the primary audience. The hardest part of developing a crowd is getting permission to begin a presentation. Permission was granted when I could get one interested party to stop and listen to my presentation. What I found most interesting is that the person who purchased my product was usually not the one who gave me permission to present. Instead, my sales generally came from the onlooker, the person who joined the presentation late and listened from a distance. My immediate audience, the one who gave me permission to begin, rarely became my customer. My customer was the secondary audience.
The same is true in ministry. In youth ministry, we have our primary audience: our students, parents, and families that are part of the church. We can have a positive impact on them for Jesus. My experience though is that when our primary audience gives us permission, and we seek to do our presentation well, then a door is opened to the curious onlookers. These onlookers are many times the ones that we get the opportunity to share the gospel with for the very first time. These onlookers or secondary audience can quickly become our “customers” as we share the good news of the resurrection.
A friend once shared with me that he was praying with a church member who was in the hospital. The nurse came into the room and asked to speak with my friend. He was worried because he often prayed loudly and was certain that she was going to tell him to keep it down. Instead, the nurse said that her other three patients heard his prayer from their rooms. They all wanted to know if he would also come to pray with them.
Friends, may we not shy away from our calling. May we seek to do well in our presentations, whatever they may be so that we are presented with more opportunities to speak to this secondary audience. After all, the second audience is ripe for the harvest!