Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What is "third space"?

In the mix and business of life, it’s important to have a space to be yourself and simply be. If you think of this space in your own life, where would it be? While living out who we are at home and work are important and time-consuming parts of daily living, there is something to be said for spending time in a space called “Third Space”. In the book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg spends a great deal of time explaining the differences between: first, second and third spaces.

“Oldenburg calls ones "first place" the home and those that one lives with. The "second place" is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. Third places, then, are "anchors" of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. (

Third space is not something new, but the definition of the places we spend our lives may be a new perspective to ponder. 

Oldenburg’s theory of third space is one that points to the importance of living in, cultivating and protecting third space as a means for community development as well as meeting societal needs for place. Some of the “third place” characteristics, according to Oldenburg are:

• Free or inexpensive
• Food and drink, while not essential, are important
• Highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance)
• Involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there
• Welcoming and comfortable
• Both new friends and old should be found there. (

In considering Oldenburg’s theory and explanation of “third space”, it became apparent that for some “third space” could be a place where worship of God is part of its focus. Is the Church a “third space”?

If you were to ask what would make a church ideal, many of the above characteristics of “third space” seems to fit. However, I’d like to suggest that the place of the “third space” may be less important that the environment that is cultivated there. 

Churches that curate space for people to know others and be known and welcome others in with the understanding that going outside of comfortable space to extend an invitation are “third places”. Churches that provide a community and people to interact with and learn from as they worship God are probably more likely to succeed in being and becoming “third spaces” in people’s lives.

Acts 2 tells the account of how the Church became the church. There are dramatic events that lead to many people believing in Jesus Christ. But what follows the amazing and dramatic is the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in the everyday lives of the people.

Life among the BelieversActs 2:43-47

43 Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and had all things in common; 45 they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds[j] to all, as any had need. 46 Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home[k] and ate their food with glad and generous[l] hearts, 47 praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

In our homes and work (places 1 and 2) we are called to share God’s story but in the “third places” we are called to share the gospel too. Day by day in the first, second and third places – God is with us. 

All the spaces we occupy and spend time in are important. Every arena of life is in need of good news. As Church, we have a special way of standing with people in all “places” of life as well as be curators of “third space” that lives out the saying…”All are welcome!"

Where do you experience third space and why is it important I your life?

Image of "Wild Goose Holy Spirit".                                                                       
 found here:

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