Sunday, May 18

Third places

Ragamuffin quotes Michael Frost's Exiles: Living Missionally in a Post-Christian Culture by asking...

Where are the "third places"?

[Frost] suggests that people generally live out their lives between three distinct places: Home, Work and a third place. For many Christians, their third place is church and church activities. (He goes on to suggest a deep interconnectedness between this reality and the decline of the church.) While many Christians spend their free time engaged in religious activities with religious people, most everyone else has traditionally found their third place in spaces like bowling alleys, pool halls, mothers' groups, local pubs, and beauty parlors.

Identifying the third places of your community will tell you a lot about the people you are seeking to reach. Furthermore, it identifies for you the places your church must go if you are to reach them. People don't have time for a fourth place. That is what the church isn't getting.

Some helpful questions for determining the community's third places might be: How do people spend their free time? Is there a thriving night life? Recreational lifestyle? Performing arts community? Professional sports team? Family culture?

This is an interesting question. What are the 'third places' for my people group?

After giving the matter some thought, I am encouraged to realize that for a great number their 'third place' is others homes. People here are very social. They love to spend time together with other people. Due to the difficulty of getting around in large congested cities, most tend to stay close to home at each others houses. Usually the homes of other family members. When people are not at work or at home, they are likely to be at someone else's house visiting. In that sense they are what Frost describes above as a family culture.

What implications does this hold for planting new house churches?

1) We are about small family based assemblies oikos/house churches made up principally of extended family members, their friends, and neighbors.

2) We have barely begun to tap into the potential of this 'third place' family culture of the home.

3) What strategies might we suggest to existing church families to begin seeing the potential for using their homes as 'third places' to minister to family and friends who happen to stop by?

What are common 'third places' for your people group?


Burkhalter Ministry said...

Questions/Comments...why focus on a third place when we have the 1st and 2nd places to "tap" into (home and work)? We already know that those 2 places are where people are at, why try to "figure" out where else they are when we already have a good idea where they are at?

I think 3rd places are for the most part non-existent in NA culture...people are generally either at work or at home. This is true of my own life. Coffee shops and possibly parks might be another place.

Can the church buildings or religious buildings be a 3rd place for non-believers also? I see Jesus going to the synagogues and the Temple to teach/preach...I suppose the synagogue and the Temple were 3rd places? (I'm not sure if going to church buildings to find people of peace would be a very good strategy..smiles...)

Anyways, just some of my thoughts...

GuyMuse said...


I see your point. Indeed a lot of people (especially Stateside) live their lives in their 1st and 2nd places. But when a third place can be identified, there is a potential relationship that can be developed based on common interests. Homes are definitely the most predominant place for people to meet each other on an informal basis here in Ecuador. Why not seek to use this common reality to see what might be developed out of that?

Tim Patterson said...


I have been thinking about this for a while now. I was in Western Europe a couple of weeks ago... the people we encountered almost never invite others into their homes, only family or very close friends. The "third place" is very important for these people. Problem is, for most, that place is in the local tavern. However, many have their favorite cafe as well. Anyway, I believe there are many cultures where natural groupings of lost people are found in these "third places" and for the most part the church is oblivious to it. This goes for much of the U.S.A. as well.

I am still processing this and plan to post on it.

GuyMuse said...


Yes, Western Europe seems to be a different world from what we encounter here on the coast of Ecuador. I look forward to reading what you have to share about your recent experiences there.