Bible Think Tank

This site is designed to help you interact with others about God's Word. I further some thoughts we developed during morning and evening gatherings at church. I have my NT translations from the original Greek to English. Also, I have book reviews and other current events.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Where Everybody Knows Your Name

People crave relationship. God infused this desire into our very being. In trinitarian community, God made man and after fashioning Adam in His own image, and this was the first creation that wasn't good. Remember after each day... God said "it is good". But when He made man, He said "it is not good for man to be alone." So God set out to find man a suitable helper. No creature He had made was adaquate to be Adam's partner, so God made Eve. While there is immense and romantic imagery we could observe about husband and wife, we want to simply observe that humans need relationship. We need relationships of varying kinds (Romance, friendship, co-workers, family). It is not good for man to be alone.

Enter our society's answer to this craving. In a culture where good fences make good neighbors and where we do not know the name of the family across the street, we create spaces for friends to gather. Remember the theme song to the late, great tv show Cheers? "You wanna go where everybody know your name." Hopefully it isnt a bar for you, but can you think of a place where you and your friends gather to just be together. I'm a coffegeek and for my ilk, the coffeeshop is the place where friends gather. Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks wants his shops to that special gathering spot for friends all around the world. He calls it what many marketers call it, The Third Place. The third place is that spot aside from home and work where you spend your time gathering. Ray Oldenburg coined the phrase and this is how he describes The Third Place. It is "a generic designation for a great variety of public places that host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work." (Oldenburg, Ray. The Great Good Place. 1999. p.16.) These are secular guys expressing the Christian value of community.

So why not the church? Can the church be the Third Place for people craving community? I think so. I believe that the Church merges all the loftiest hungers of the human spirit. Think of it: the Church experience merges relationship, celebration, self-betterment, and spirituality all in one place. People look for these elements to life in a variety of other pursuits but they are all waiting in the one place so many people don't want to look.

As you experience Bethany, ask yourself how you can make it your Third Place. Ask yourself how you can make it someone elses's Third Place. As we find fulfillment within Christian community, let us give God the glory for His redeeming work of making His Church a family!

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