Multiple Third Place Environments

November 15, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Recently I received the following question on Third Place:

We planted our church in ’07. Currently, our Gospel Communities meet for a meal together and Bible discussion twice a month (every other week), and people meet in tripods (LTG’s) the other two weeks.

While our GC’s have certainly done “Third Place” gatherings, that is not something we have implemented into our DNA like the other two gatherings. Our GC’s are a diverse mix of college students, recent grads, young marrieds, and families with young kids. Finding a third space that is natural and regular for this group is difficult. I’d love any feedback you could give me on implementing a third place into GC’s where life rhythms are wide and diverse.

I’ve actually had a number of people ask this question, so I thought I would post a response.

First, I think this question is so often asked because we primarily conceive of community as an event we attend rather than relationships we have. By and large, the three kinds of gatherings are meant to serve the relationships you have by creating intentionality in what you are gathering for.

You don’t need to have everyone at every gathering all the time! In fact, I think you’ll be far more successful if you don’t have everyone all the time.  We’ve had a number of missional communities who bring 12 people to a particular location, only to have one other friend who doesn’t yet know Jesus join.  That’s a difficult social setting for anyone to walk into!

I’d highly recommend that you work on having multiple different “Third Places” for each Gospel Community. When you have a great diversity of people, focus on having a couple different places where two’s, three’s and four’s of people can gather and invite people they know that don’t know Jesus to spend time with them.

The place or the event is less important than intentionally creating overlap between your community and people who don’t know Christ.

What would you add?

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

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