I recently learned that Starbucks is built around this idea called a “Third Place.” Essentially, the Starbucks pioneers recognized that people spend most of their time at home and at work (first and second places), and Starbucks wanted to become everyone’s “third place”
I would encourage every Christian to take time and try and find their “third place”, if they haven’t already, as it can improve many aspects of your life.
If you’ve heard anything about productivity boosting tips, you probably already know that a change in scenery improves mindfulness and focus. In my college days, I often had to vacate my dark dorm room and cruise over to a local coffee shop to get anything done. Anytime I was there with my coffee, I knew that my goal was to get my homework done.
If you choose a library as your third place, you will go to the library expecting a certain outcome. With certain goals in mind, you might be disciplining yourself and building good habits. A coffee shop is great too because you expect a certain environment and maybe even certain people.
The human mind can only hold and process *so* much information. That’s why building good habits is important; habits are mostly automatic, so they free our minds to think about other things. Think about when you go to a place you’ve never been and you’re meeting people for the first time- it can be overwhelming! But eventually you find a favorite spot in the cafeteria and you worry less often about where to sit. Athletes practice techniques the right way and then accomplish the same tasks but without overthinking.
When people (significant others, for example) want to know you better, they will ask questions about you, and they might ask what you like to do for fun. So, now you can share your adventurous side with them: “I actually have a favorite coffee shop I like to hangout in, and it has a giant painting of a bear outside. Here’s a polaroid of it.” (ok, maybe you don’t have a polaroid yet, but it goes well with the coffee shop vibe- just sayin’).
Additionally, when your friend group wants to hangout but can’t decide on what to do, having a default, go-to location is invaluable. It beats sitting around waiting for someone to make a decision that might leave some people upset, so a third place can a neutral zone for the squad. Did you ever see the Disney’s original Jungle Book movie with the Vultures that only asked each other “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know. What do you want to do?” Well, don’t be like them. Be decisive. Take responsibility.
This point deserves special attention (especially from other introverts out there).
To the introverts:
You might be able to change the world from your comfort zone, but you can’t change yourself while you’re there.
Ok, sure, that generalization fits a t-shirt or phone wallpaper, but if that isn’t inspirational enough for you, remember that Christ called us to evangelize. And if you’re reading this and aren’t a Christian, this may come as a surprise to you, but evangelism doesn’t have to be a youth group or small group trip.
I play sports with non-Christians who want to hear my point of view and share theirs too. I realized the opportunity that God has placed before me, and I occasionally meet them for coffee (or tea, or whatever you drink). I am too intimidated to invite them to my house or ask them to go ice skating, but for now we are comfortable with swapping worldview perspectives while we try to understand each other.
Maybe you’ve never tried to share your faith with someone yet, and that’s ok. I was homeschooled in a stereotypical Christian family and really failed at evangelizing. Most of my evangelism was based on logical arguments, but I’ve since discovered that a changed life makes a better witness.
So, if you want to evangelize without pushing others away, you have to change your life.
And if you want to change your life, you have to give God more control of your life.
And to give God more control in my life, I step out of my comfort zone a little bit.
And if we’re being honest, inviting missionaries to share their non-Christian worldview with me at a local coffee shop is not in my comfort zone.
Here’s the kicker:
And if you’re not a Christian, then still consider the benefits of finding a “third place.” Christian living is not just an ivory-tower pursuit, and it should affect all areas of our life: work, education, relationships, entertainment, etc. Growing up in a “perfect” Christian family, I had to visit multiple coffee shops to prove this to myself by reflecting on how to be a Christian in a coffee shop.
Yeah, weird, but here I am, taking more steps out of my comfort zone.
Anyway, thanks for reading, and if you have any tips/questions/stories on evangelizing, please reach out! Or, if you have a good list of what makes a good coffee shop, I’d love to hear about that too. I’m still really curious about the ideal coffee shop playlist.
I wrote part of this at a coffee shop.
I’m from Colorado, but I’ve traveled *so many* miles and eventually graduated from a college in East Texas! Most of my friends know that I love Ultimate Frisbee, although a few of them can tell you I would rather be ice skating. Regardless, I still drink black coffee in the morning and London Fog on the weekends. And hot drinks go well with books or board games, btw 🙂