I heard a couple of years ago that Starbucks’ goal is to be the third place for people. Most folks have work, and home, and a third place that they hang out. It used to be church, but the trend is not church any more. I’m not sure that coffee shops will take the reigns for everyone in our individuality-obsessed culture. When Friends was on the air, coffee was all the rage. Not that we don’t still love our coffee, but hanging out in coffee shops isn’t what it used to be. Yes, there are a couple of tables this morning with folks hanging out together, but these are hardly all of the people who aren’t in church. Heck, some of them may be meeting here before going to church, like I am.
For some folks, the third place may be a bar. For a lot of parents, I’m pretty sure it’s the soccer field these days (or maybe just the inside of the vehicle). I’m such a homebody that I can’t imagine doing anything but being home or going to church. Not a good thing for my writing, since I’ve sat here in Starbucks for about two hours now and written six or seven blog posts. Clearly being out of the house is more inspiring than being in it.
Maybe for me, the real “third place” is the online world, reading others’ blogs and facebook statuses and writing my own. Truth be told, even in that world I’m more of an observer than participator. Lurking on the internet is hardly a pastime, yet I tend to do it a lot. And I think a lot about all of those “third places” out there and wonder why the church isn’t getting out there into them and being Christ to the people where they are. Why aren’t we taking donuts to the soccer field or driving people home from the bar or interacting with purpose online? We have a lot of work to do. I think I’m going to be purposeful in praying for all of the folks I’ve seen in here today – there have been quite a few.
bethany actually said:
But there are Christians out there in all those third places, taking donuts to the soccer fields and buying lattes at Sbux and writing blog posts online. 🙂 I know because I’m one of them! There is definitely a place for deliberate, church-driven ministry, of course; but I believe that it’s even more effective when we Christians are the salt and leaven and light in the world, bringing Christ everywhere we go in actions and words.
After home and work that third place is ideally somewhere that folks feel MORE comfortable for the time they are there. Starbucks can do that for a lot of people, and used to do so for me, but lost their roots and have lost my affection. I used to go to PlanetSub for lunch almost exclusively, because there was one across from where I worked, and it became my third place. Now, I think cyberspace IS my third place, too, Stephanie. We have to be careful here, though, to define our limited space and not end up in trouble, a concept we need to teach to our children, which is a big Christian mission in cyberspace (thanks Bethany).