Home is where I love to be the most. That may come as a shock to you, thinking that it should be the church. But no, home is my first place. It is where I live with my family, where I can engage in the activities that I fill my soul like praying, cooking, gardening, reading. The church is my second place, the place where I work, plan ministries, write sermons, work with staff, and seek discernment from God about our next steps.
In the sociological arena of community building, home is a person’s first place, and the workplace is a person’s second place. A person’s third place has been described as where you relax in public, where you encounter familiar faces, and make new acquaintances. Examples of third places would be churches, coffee shops, clubs, public libraries, parks, hair salons, bars, or gyms. Ray Oldenburg initiated this idea in his 1989 book The Great Good Place. He argues that these places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place. Think Cheers: “Where everybody knows your name.”
Where is your third place? I hope that it might be the church! But it may be somewhere else. Think about what you gain from your third place, how you feel when you’ve been there. And then think about how that gain, or those feelings, could be experienced at church. As we think about doing a better job of reaching new people in our community as we share God’s love, we want people to feel that the church can be their third place. Our Church Council and ministry teams will be working on strategies for doing that over the next several years. Please hold them in prayer, and let’s work together to make VSUMC a third place for many new folks!
Where is Your Third Place?