It didn't take long to notice the obvious: people weren't just coming there for the pizza! While the pizza was good (correction: REALLY good), Mr. Barrett sat down next to us and showed us there was more to the place than just getting good food. I didn't want to eavesdrop, but I smiled as the waitress called him by name and knew that he wanted lasagna - before he ever settled into his seat.
I couldn't help but notice that this place was Mr. Barrett's "third place". That's what Ray Oldenburg calls it when we go somewhere because we want to - a place where "individuals may come and go as they place, aren't required to play host to anyone, and feel at home and comfortable being there". He says we all have first places and second places (homes we have to visit to live in and jobs we have to go to), but we ALL need third places. These places are places that we gather together where people know our names, what we like/don't like, and keep up with what is going on in our life. So, here is my question: why shouldn't we find them when we are IN church?!?
These last few years, all of us here at HighPoint Church have learned there is more to being IN church than just the church building we are in (and we need to remember this as we prepare to move into a new building). The early Church knew this - there were no sanctuaries, no Children's Ministry areas, no youth rooms, no baptism tank for the large group to cheer on life changes, no designated space for small groups, no cafes, and no offices for the pastors. But as they "devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...", there is one more thing they did:
"Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts." (Acts 2:46)
When you looked at what God did in and through them, you can tell that they made meeting together a priority. I can picture families embracing and laughing and crying together, kids playing together, adults talking together, and everybody worshiping together. When they listened intently to the teaching and wanted to be together and ate meals together and prayed together, it doesn't surprise me that they changed the world through a biblical community like that! So as you pray this week, ask God to help you think about how He can use you to help people find their third place at HighPoint:
Ask God to show you where your third place is. Where do you go for connection? Who are those people in your circle that you go to for help and support and advice and spiritual direction? If that is your church family, why is that? What happens when you gather with them? What does it do for your soul and spiritual health? What happens if you can't be there for some reason? And if it isn't church, ask Him to show you why it isn't.
Ask God to show you ways you can help others feel that way. As our church grows, more people will need to feel at home here. What are some things you can do to help with that? Could you serve, teach, greet, sing, open doors, do crafts with kids, hand out coffee, lead a group?!? Sometimes just noticing someone else can lead to God changing their family life, so pray for each of us to see how God wants us to be involved.
What makes you keep coming back, and how can God use you to help others feel the same way?