Third Place, the term for non-home, non-work space (coined by sociologist Ray Oldenberg) is still relevant years after Starbucks started capitalizing on the concept. Food, drink, coffee, or some kind of attractional vehicle is often seen kick-starting our society’s hotspots, but the truth is we only have to mix two ingredients to our church lobbies to create these simple environments. After all, Sunday mornings already provide opportunity for growing relationships with one another at many churches.
Impromptu 5 Minute Hot Spots, where people sporadically gather to share a few thoughts, fellowship, and be on their way are a must. Dictating flow around your space helps foster new relationships, or maintains Public ones. Examine how people move around your space. If there are unlimited options for traversing space, you need to create the specific flow that allows for simple interaction.
50 Minute Perches are those spaces that are predetermined to be reliably available as spots at which to hang out. Whether doing some work, reading, talking to a friend or in groups, the average time a person will want to hang out is about 50 minutes. However, don’t create just one lounge style, or just one furniture setting. If there’s action in your church, people will desire a vantage point. The key is to have multiple vantage points to offer a choice on how close one might want to be to the action. Check out your favorite coffee place, and you may notice the variety of seating they offer.
Make sure both are available as part of your design, because 5+50=Third Place, and healthy church relationships.
About Derek DeGroot
Derek DeGroot is Vice President of Design and Integrated Services for Aspen Group. After graduating from University of Illinois-Chicago’s architecture program, Derek began his career in residential design. At the same time, his church was embarking on a building project. Derek quickly realized that churches needed to find a better way to build. Soon after, he discovered and joined Aspen Group in 2007.