Is Church Third Place Anymore? part 2

We talked in our last blog of how Starbucks wants to be third place in your life right after home and work. Here are some suggestions for making church third place. I would love to hear some of the ways your church is doing this.

1. Make it fun. Should church be fun? Well not all of what we do as followers of Christ would be labeled fun, but I think there should be a strong element of joy in all we do at church. If you teach do it with joy and enthusiasm, if you lead a committee or team lead with lots of energy and with a servant attitude, if you preach, preach with joy. Jesus was not boring! We may be boring, our leadership may be boring but God’s Word and the One we serve is not boring. Boring places do not become third place in our lives.

2. Let integrity mark all you do. Folks are tired of phonies and they want to see the real deal. We must train our leaders to serve with integrity.

3. Don’t fossilize. The church will not become a third place if we don’t allow new people to enter and become a part. Make sure your greeter ministry is the best it can be. Design a follow up strategy to connect with guests. Challenge all Sunday School classes to reach new people. The tendency is that the longer a class is together the more it becomes a closed group. The teacher is the one who should lead this charge to make sure that the class does not become a clique.

4. Provide planned and spontaneous fellowships on a regular basis. Third place is a place to gather and fellowship. People are hungry for authentic fellowship and the church is the place for that to happen. These can be by age groups (youth, children, senior adults, etc.) or special interests groups or church-wide. Every church should plan at least four giant church-wide fellowships each year. Some of these relate to the season of the year and are not hard to pull off. Put together a fellowship team who plans events with this in mind.

5.  Plan Special Interest Groups.   Sports, exercise classes, healthy cooking, and other felt needs help churches gather people together and thus become a third place church. You don’t need a lots of money or a gym to do these things.

6. Provide a place for folks to just hang out and have conversations. Some churches offer a coffee shop, a church cafe or a Christian book club to allow people to gather and talk.

We might not have the best coffee in town like Starbucks serves, or the most delicious bread and pastries like Panera Bread Company, but we have the Water and Bread of Life-Jesus. If we faithfully feed people God’s Word and demonstrate His love in practical ways and make disciples, the church will be third place and that place will directly affect first place (home) and second place (work or school) thus changing our world for Christ in all three places!

Keep the Son in Your Eyes,

Mike James

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