The Third Place
There seems to be a lull in the blogosphere. Seven-minute lulls probably do not apply here, but I guess it's not surprising that there would be some sort of blog-equivalent.
Still, Craver-VII (who remarked on the quietude first) recently referred to the concept of "the Third Place," and Charity commented on it. She said she has read up on it and has the sense that the church is trying to be that in some cases, but that maybe it shouldn't. Or something like that. I'm sure she can correct me if I misinterpreted her. Anyway, I thought I'd see if I could mooch off some of the discussion.
Here's a little story. Before I started working at Starbucks, I wanted to have my own independent coffee shop. The reasons for this are given in barebones outline in the transcribed party-conversation. If people don't have to rush their coffee to work with them, they'll talk about anything over it, eventually. I had images of a burgeoning little coffee-community where people gradually warmed up to Christ through the process of warming up to Christians (the presence of warm beverages ameliorating the process). In my head, the coffee-shop itself kind of became church. Not get-dressed-up, sit-in-rows, sing-hymns-and-worship-choruses church, but church where people were growing together as a community and as people who were getting to know and learning to walk with Jesus.
In the plain light of reality, Starbucks was a more solid practical move for someone who has occasional trouble with financial functions as basic as adding. But they weren't kidding about the Third Place there. The specific Starbucks in which I currently live and move and have my being (or whatever) is tiny. But it's also popular. On Saturday, when we were having Line-issues, I said to myself--and a few of my colleagues--while viewing the Line and overflowingly full cafe area, "Why do people come here on Saturdays? How is this mayhem a pleasant experience for them?"
I'm still not entirely sure of the answer, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that many of these people are regulars and we know them by name, or at least by drink, and we ask them about their lives. We have a bar-counter at which people can sit, and many do, and some of them talk to us, such that the day isn't complete without a visit from them.
I really don't think that church is only about warm-fuzzies and warm coffee or even just hanging out and talking. But I'm wondering what people think about this as a component for church, or at least pre-church. Mark commented on my last post about how the Line (being an entity separate from the sum of its parts) and the Church (an entity greater than the sum of its parts) are sort of similar. What do you think?