There is a great concept floating around in the worlds of sociology and marketing. It is the idea of a third place. Ray Oldenburg wrote about this in his bestselling book, The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community.
All of us have at least two places that we spend our time. The first is our home. We all love our homes and spend a majority of our time there. The second place that we all have is our job or our school. Everybody has to work or go to school.
The third place, however, is the place that we go because we choose to. People go to their third place because they love it there. For some, it might be their local gym, a favorite coffee shop, or even a park. This third place often provides a sense of community.
There was a popular American TV show, Cheers, that revolved around a local bar. A group of regulars gathered there to relax, drink, and socialize. The bar was their third place. The show’s theme song had the refrain, “Where everybody knows your name.” This show does a great job of showing what a third place looks like. The patrons of Cheers came there because they wanted to. They connected with their friends and felt like they were part of the family there. Everybody knows your name.
For those of us who are followers of Christ, we have a mandate to create a third place for people to go. If we can create Christian communities where Christians and non-Christians love to go, we will be well on our way to fulfilling the Great Commission. The Church should be one of the most incredible places on the planet but, sadly, this often not the case.
How do you know if your church is one of these third places that I am talking about? Here is a simple test. Next week, get to church early and see how many people come early to serve, hang out and connect with friends. Is there a buzz as people chat and talk about their week? After the service, stick around and see how quickly the building empties. Is there an after service buzz or do most people exit as quickly as they can to go eat? Simply put, do people come to your church because they love being there?
I know that I am a bit biased, but I think that C3 Churches around the globe are creating a great third place that people love to go to. The atmosphere is welcoming and positive. The Presence of God is felt in the services. People are able to connect with other people but they also have the opportunity to connect with God through worship and the preaching of God’s Word. And most of the time, everybody knows your name!
Where is your third place?
Would you consider being a part of our team as we serve in the C3 Church, Curitiba, Brazil? Just click here to get involved. Obrigado!