Mar 3, 2008

The third space...

When I was in high school, on any given Friday night you might have found me at Organ Stop Pizza.   The pizza parlor, still located in Mesa, Arizona, has a large Wurlitzer theater organ.   This is where all the band kids went after football games.   Even when there wasn't a football game, we drove to Mesa to hear Lyn Larsen play show tunes and watch all the instruments connected to the organ.   It was a perfect atmosphere to eat pizza and talk.


When we found ourselves on the west side of town, we would head to Farrell's Ice Cream parlor and laugh with the waiters.   The Farrell's at Metrocenter was staffed with stand-up comedians.   There was never lack of good ice cream and great fun.


Do you have memories of places like this?   Places where you would gather with friends for a great evening?   Perhaps there was a coffee shop, pizza place, or hole-in-the-wall restaurant that brings happy memories. Where are these places now?   Where do people congregate for community?


In his book, The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg calls these "Third Places...   If "First Place.. is home and "Second Place.. is work, then "Third Place.. is where people go for fellowship.   These could be cafà ©s, book stores, pubs, or other venues.   If all the right elements come together at the same time, it can be magical.   One of the more popular third places today is the local Starbucks.


Historically, church was the third place.   All social, community and political life was centered at the church.   The church was the highest point in town and the first point of contact for newcomers to an area.   One of the hot topics for debate is whether church can once again become a "Third Place...     Today, many un-churched are afraid of churches and consider them as country clubs with exclusive membership requirements.


What would a church look like if it wanted to attract the community for community sake?


Jesus was the ultimate one-man Third Place.   Wherever He went, people flocked to him for fellowship.   He not only fed them spiritually, but sometimes He even fed them physically.   He brought community wherever He went.


I think heaven will be one big Third Place.   I know the organ will be much bigger. I hope the stand-up comedians from Farrell's show up.



Pastor David Hook


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