Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Third Places

I've been thinking about third places.  Not home or work, but that place that you go for community.  For some, it's the church.  For others it's a club: the Experimental Aircraft Association, the Radio Club, the Masons, the Quilting Club.

Some people don't even have a third place, instead using either home or work as their all in all - homebodies and workaholics.

I've had many third places in my life: the Baptist Student Union in college, the EAA after I got married, the karate studio among others.  Currently I don't have a third place - I have home/work/church all sort of smushed into one.  It's happened very naturally as I live and work just a dozen feet away - and I work at the church.  It lends for a sort of sameness throughout the day; something I need to be intentional in breaking up with going to Curves and visiting out and about in the community.  I probably need to research a group of people in this area that would have  common interest as I do - scrapbooking maybe?  I probably need to do this for my own health, but as with other things, it's been placed on the "later" shelf.

And I've been wondering about church REALLY being the third place for people.  I wonder if that's a myth that us churchy types have told ourselves.  I think maybe 100 years ago in England the pub was really people's third place - or a social club or a quilting circle.  I read Dickens, Jane Austen - I read more current authors, I watch TV.  Church was not as central to life as people make it out to be.  Even in the 1950's with "Father Knows Best" and "Leave It to Beaver," church is mentioned as a peripheral activity at best.  When the church or ministers are mentioned or portrayed, it is often times in a comedic role. Especially when a minister gets up to preach.

And I think about the picture above - how we do school, work, church.  It's not a linear thing anymore.  Schools are grouping kids into small groups for discovery type learning activities.  Industries are looking for cooperative creativity.  What would this look like for church?  If we are indeed to be a third place, we are going to have to change radically.  People don't want to be lectured at anymore - what is this going to mean for preaching?

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