Our centre has been really busy this week, although the streets have been really quiet so as of yesterday we have finished our night time street work.
Our centre will remain open for about 2 more weeks, yesterday Tracy and Neil prayed with so many people in the centre it was wonderful, as well as people playing wii, ping pong, checking facebook and getting their boarding passes printed there was prayer going on. We are helping people with lost passports and disputes over non returned deposits from landlords. In the midst of all that prayer takes place.
I was reading Michael Frosts book on Living Missionally in a post christian culture called "Exiles". I have had the book for a while and skimmed it from time to time. This week I came back to the section on third places, it gave Tracy and I great encouragement when we read it in light of our 24-7 prayer drop in centre in the West End.
Frost says "amateur missionaries are discovering that the best place for building proximity with members of a host culture is in a third place"
A sociologist called Ray Oldenburg originally coined the phrase. He said that third places are those environments in which people meet to develop freidnships, discuss issues, and interact with others. These places have always been an important way in which a community develops and retains cohesion and a sense of identity. He says "third places" are crucial to community for a number of reasons.
- They are distinctive informal gathering places.
- They make the citzen feel at home.
- They nourish relationships and a diversity of human contact.
- They invoke a sense of civic pride.
- They promote companionship.
- They allow people to relax and unwind after a long day.
- They are socially binding.
- They encourage sociability instead of isolation.
- They make life more colourful.
- They enrich public life and democracy.
The first place is home and the people with whom we live. Our second place is the workplace, the place where we spend most of our waking life. Third places in our society are the bedrock of community life. Church should be in the business of creating third places and that is what we feel that we have almost accidentally achieved with our centre in the west end. I will write some more tomorrow. Thank you Mister Frost for your great book hope you don't mind me quoting it?.