December 2, 2009

The Third Space

There are plenty of discussions, studies and books around the idea of "The Third Place" and more specifically how the church fits into this idea of community. The main premise around the third space or place is that it is the place people come together to experience community outside of the home (the 1st place) and the workplace (the 2nd place).

One of the ways churches are creating a third place for people to experience community is by creating some sort of online experience. Some of these experiences include live streaming worship services, live chat features, and the use of social networking (ie. twitter and facebook groups). A couple churches that I think are doing this pretty well are Granger Community Church and The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection but of course there are many others which you may have checked out (if you know of any that do a good job of this please let us know). Our church is also live streaming a couple of our Sunday morning worship services and I'd say it's decent with the understanding that we've still got a little ways to go.

What I would be curious to hear is your thoughts on the idea of church online and if you think it can effectively serve as a "Third Place"? How willing would you be to "attend" a church online? Or maybe a virtual Bible study (something I have actually thought about starting)? I would love to hear your thoughts on this if you have any to share.


Meg B said...

Hi Matt -

I'm not opposed to watching a service online. However, I usually do that if I unable to go to the service that weekend. Plus, I think streaming is a great way for home-bound people to still experience the message.

But somehow, the experience of watching online is still too removed for me, especially if I"m looking for the community experience.

I think it should incorporate a live message board, where those watching at home could contribute to a stream of consciousness by adding comments like "Praise god!" or "that's a great verse, here's a related one..."

This is a great topic to be thinking about.

marty morrow said...

I read a while back that Starbucks' entire marketing strategy revolves around them wanting to be "the third place". hmmmmm Maybe we should build a small church on every block!

Matt Lipan said...

Meg B: thanks for the read and comment.

thanks for sharing your thoughts about church online. i can certainly see your point about the online experience being "too removed". i agree w/you that having some form of interaction is crucial in making something like this work.

marty morrow: thanks for the read and comment.

oh Starbucks, what would we do w/o your brilliant marketing strategy and overpriced coffee??

i grew up in Holland, MI where i think there is a church on every corner and at times, it just about seems that way in the northeast corner of Indy. i'm trying to figure out how our church can become a better "third place" for people to connect, whether it be online or on either of the campuses.