SMALL GROUPS & A Case Study of How One Mega-church Pastor/Student Created Oldenburg’s “Third Place”

by Bob Whitesel, 6/7/15.

In a related posting, I discussed the importance of churches providing what Ray Oldenburg (1991, 1999) calls a “third place.”  An urban sociologist, Oldenburg suggests that people desire a “third social space” that is different from their home (their “first place”) and different from their work (their “second place”).  Pubs (think of the TV sitcom “Cheers”), coffee shops (think of another TV sitcom, “Friends”) and other public gathering spaces become these “third places” that people socially crave.

I believe the Church once fulfilled this role as a third place for a community, up until the middle of the 20th Century.

And, I have urged the Church to recapture these third places. And so, I have suggested the churches creatively provide weekday “third places” for community in which spiritual questions and leading can result.

3rdPlaceUpon listening to my admonitions one of my students, Will Lindsay a pastor of a Houston mega-church, applied the name “third place” to the church’s small groups.  Below is how he explains it.  Then click the link for more of his creative ideas:

What is 3rd Place???

So, are you wondering what we mean by 3rd Place???  OK, here it is.  Everyone has three important places in their life—places where they connect with others and well, do life.  For most people, it’s Work…..Home… and a 3rd Place.

At ABF (Above and Beyond Fellowship), we get together in small settings a couple times each month (1st and 3rd weeks) to do life together.  We invite you to join us as we take an hour to hang out, have coffee, laugh with friends and learn more about the Word.  Take a look at the Connection Groups below to find your 3rd place…and connect!

Ray Oldenburg, The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community (Washington, DC: Marlowe & Company, 1999).