Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Third Places, part 5.

I am with Chris, who commented this morning, he said

"The way 3rd places were presented to me just turned me off. My community is full of coffee shops and pubs. Why can't we just go there?

We end up creating something that is well meaning but unfortunately just a bit rubbish. (like some Christian music).

It sounds like a good idea, but why not just go for a coffee with your pals? Why do we have to make a christian "3rd place"? "

1. I was going to do a little summary this morning and the first thing I was going to say was "if at all possible go to existing third places"

2. If we are going to create a third place we need to it well, I have seen some great third places created by churches, but they have top quality venues that are run by professionals, designed by creative people and have a distinct lack of donated second hand furniture and cheesy music.

3. Church will have to change the way it is structured if we are actually going to find the time to regularly hang out with pals at an existing third place.

4. I think that the church is full of gifted people who if they really had the freedom to let their creative juices flow could create wonderful third places.

5. Third places are not the only way, I have enjoyed looking at this particular aspect of missional living but do realise that God paints on a very broad canvas. There is more than one way.

6. We need to hang out in places with people frequently, frequency is the key.

7. We need to enjoy it, don't treat it as a project, just enjoy hanging out with people.


rossi from bulgaria said...

Now this is something different. And I agree.
To me, the bottom line is: be genuinely interested in people. If you are, you will find a way and a space to spend quality time with them and interact on a deeper level, wether it be a cafe round the corner, a bowling club on the local church venue, or your fishing boat.

Anonymous said...

Really enjoying this series - thanks for putting it together.

I'm not sure I buy the idea of a genuine third space/place as something that can be put together by a church - it's so hard for it to avoid being influenced by that church's agenda. And it's also surely going to be a far less effective place than those that already exist in the community.

I guess there could be an exception where a community is so economically disenfranchised that it has no public spaces and can't afford to participate in the coffee shops, pubs and so on that have the third space function for the wealthier (This may well be an increasing phenomenon - Naomi Klein has written plenty on the privatisation of previously public space). But in that situation you'd have to see the church's giving of a space as a purely compassionate charitable action, giving a community something which is vital for community to function properly. And it would need to be done with no agenda other than the generous healing of that community.

Another interesting thing to bring into the discussion is the concept of sanctuary. Sanctuary isn't a third space in that it is a place that meets a need for safety and healing, rather than a space where community happens - though it can lead to community. I think it ties into the Christian calling to hospitality, and perhaps we have to be careful about expressing that hospitality correctly in the context of sanctuary, rather than in pseudo-third (but really first) spaces.

Jude said...

Brian I wonder if you are being too literal about Frost's analysis. I think where I see this work is where church (as in people) make a space a place of hospitality. Its the old Luke 10 thing about people of peace.. Its not about churches opening place.. its about people who have an eye for the other infusing existant space with relationship.

Its very imperialistic to even suggest we need to create church branded space.. even more so to suggest that existing spaces aren't somehow good enough.

I guess its different in an Ibiza culture where normal business spaces have an 'edge'.. but creating new stuff somehow misses the point of incarnation..

Theres a whole other thing about releasing people's time.. thats not church's fault.. thats mainly that people want stuff.. and so priority 1 is earning enough to get stuff.. thats what takes our time..

Anyway thats enough ranting for now.. hope you're well..

Tanya Heasley said...

Last Friday I went to the park in town with Turaya and Vitoria. There were two other mums there with their children. We started talking to each other and they told me they are neighbours.

One of them has just moved here from Portugal. It's her daughter's birthday Saturday and she invited Turaya to come. I then gave her my phone number and told her about the toddler group we have at church and invited her along.

She and her neighbour came to toddler's today and really enjoyed it. A friend of mine from church got talking to them and she too will be meeting up with them on Saturday.

These new relationships have been borne out of a 30 minutes visit I made to an already established third place, 'the park'.

If I hadn't said hello though, the opportunity for new friendships wouldn't have happened, that's when third places lack the potential it has to offer.

Brian said...

Imperialistic!! a bit rich coming from a C of E vicar!!!! I believe in Empire and Kingdom.

Branded Space! maybe if the C of E sold some of their old buildings and turned them into high end flats we could get some relevant branded space?

Creating new stuff should be what we are about the old stuff isn't working!