Spring has sprung, Lent is here, and I’m sure you are busy. If in the middle of it all, you’re looking for ways to do more outreach or evangelize, I hope you’ll find this helpful.
Idea worth considering: Evangelizing in third spaces
The idea behind “third spaces” comes from where we spend our time. The first two spaces we spend most of our time are work and home. In ages past, the third space was church – Sunday mornings, Wednesday nights, and other community events were all centered around the church. Today, that’s different. If we want to meet people where they are, we should be looking for those third spaces – where we can build relationships in existing networks and places. This might look like pastors working in the coffee shop and talking with people there instead of working in the empty office. Whatever it is, I’ve found this to be a helpful way to think through where I, as a pastor, can be most effective in the community building relationships with new people beyond the congregation.
If you want to dig deep into evangelism and third spaces, you should look into:
A resource worth reading:
Fresh Expressions: A new kind of Methodist Church for People not in Church. Kenneth H. Carter and Audrey Warren
Obviously, I’m borrowing from our UMC brothers and sisters on this one. This book helps think through how we reach people not already in church, and has discussion questions at the end of the chapters if you’re looking to lead a group discussion. Fresh expressions, as you might imagine, are new ways of being the church. What I like is that it connects the traditional with the new, and paints a picture of how tradition and innovation can work together rather than being pitted against each other. The vision of these fresh expressions is meeting people where they are in those third spaces, and inviting them into engaged discipleship. Based on the history of this movement, there are promising results. It’s a short read that’s worth picking up.
If you want to learn more but don’t want to read the book, you can visit the Fresh Expressions website here.
If you haven’t listened to it yet, Christianity Today has a podcast called “The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill.” This is the story of Mark Driscoll’s evangelical ministry which grew to be one of the largest churches in the country and then imploded overnight. This raises a lot of questions and looks at the dark side of church growth and the toxic evangelical movements of the recent past. If you’re thinking about growth and evangelizing, this is a good reminder of what can go wrong even when it looks like things are going right and why many young people have a negative association with the church.
Thanks for reading!
If you want to talk more about how you can get connected in “third spaces” in your community, if it’s helpful to talk about what “fresh expressions” might look like in your context, or if you want to commiserate about why on earth the baseball lockout is still going on, give me a call or email.
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