"Third places are the most significant places for christian mission to occur because in a third place people are more relaxed , less guarded, more open to meaningful conversation and interaction" Michael Frost
For me this is the crunch we need places for christian mission to occur, in and of itself a building isn't everything but it will help if used right.
The one danger I see in an over emphasis on third places is that a communities energy and time could be absorbed by the building and it's maintenance to such and extent that it takes them away from their primary focus which is to reach out to the lost. This is a balance to be found.
If at any point the third place is not an incarnational representation of the body of Christ it is starting to lose it's way. If all our energies are absorbed in the attraction of people to a third place we become invitational and not incarnational. The primary focus of the bride of Christ and it's members is the representation and carrying of Christ into the world, being Christ and moving into the neighbourhood!. Third places should only enhance this, in fact a well developed third place could greatly help incarnational christians as they seek to outwork their faith in the neighbourhood.
I read this once "The structure serves us, we do not serve the structure" in all we do we must watch for this, if what we create starts to dictate our pace and take us away from our true calling of reaching the lost we are serving the structure and it is no longer serving us.
A lot of mainstream churches have become trapped in this kind of thinking, programmed based church (with all it's positives) has become a structure that is served!
Was I right in hearing that once someone has become a christians, within 6 months of joining a church they have no serious non christian friends?
The structure takes over, before we know it all our energies are giving to maintenance instead of growth. You find yourself at a worship practice on a monday, a children's club on a tuesday, a small group on a Wednesday, you see your family on the weekends, and maybe hang out with your wife and kids, you have a stressed out charging around Sunday and before you know it 5 years have slipped by and you have no space in the diary for the lost!!!!
Third places should facilitate incarnational living, not hinder it.
Hope you like the snap I took last night?