A big thanks to Pernell and Matt from The Freeway for joining us at up/rooted.north last night, and the 20ish people who came out. Pernell talked a bit about third places in general (recommending Ray Oldenburg’s The Great Good Place): there must be no pressure to consume, there must be new people constantly, and there must be a consistent group of regular people. I confess, I kept thinking of Cheers through this whole section. Where everyone knows your name...
But the evening wasn’t as much about third places in general as it was about how the intentional third place of The Freeway is central to its life as a missional community. Seriously, if you want to know what being a missional church is all about, spend two hours with Pernell. The Freeway, in Pernell’s words, purchased a bank building on the busiest corner of
Pernell said more than I can hope to summarize here, and I was just blown away at how the mission of Jesus to his people (or as Mark Van Steenwyk would say, the Jesus Manifesto) is driving all these creative ways The Freeway is responding to and serving their neighborhood.
Pernell stressed that a third place is not an add-on program, not a new fad for the church. It is central to the shape of The Freeway, and it can’t really be done any other way. But I can't help but think that those of us in churches not shaped around a third place can still learn from The Freeway. So for those of us in missional churches with traditional buildings (or no building of our own), what can we apply from the experience of The Freeway to our own local bodies? Can our homes or our local coffeeshops become third places of community on a smaller scale? What are creative ways to intentionally engage people in third places without buying and running your own coffeeshop?