Third Places and Passion

Share This Post

This is a re-post from 2008 – six months into the life of Connexus and written after a meeting with Erwin McManus.  The ideas still excite me:

Having some food and time with Erwin McManus, lead pastor of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, and a handful of other Toronto pastors last night was incredible.

I had this question on my mind: “how does Erwin know when he/Mosaic is doing something for creativity’s sake rather than for Christ’s sake?”  While I was trying to figure out how not ask it offensively, he answered it with a passion that took me back.  I loved his ‘answer’.

Erwin’s passion is contagious.  Jesus has so changed and shaped his life that he is desperate to have others follow Jesus.  He is so sure of Jesus and so sure people need him that he’s willing to do just about anything to reach people.  He said he was willing to die trying to do different things in the name of Jesus to introduce people to Jesus.   He wants to spend the rest of his life going for broke trying to figure out how to connect people with the One who changed him.

He went even further in his talk last night at the Nova Experience, which ranked as one of the best talks about the church I’ve heard in a long time.  Some challenges he posed:

  • Speaking on Acts 17:16-34, he said most Christians expect to have dialogue with people who don’t know Jesus on our terms in our environment.  We expect them to come to us.  He called this evangelism in the “first place” (the church).  Some Christians are willing to venture to a second place (like a Tim Hortons) to talk about life and faith.  But Paul was willing to go to a third place (like the Aereopagus) and dialogue with people where they were.  How many leaders are willing to do that?  How many churches are willing to do that?
  • Most of the energy in our churches is spent on incremental improvements in discipleship for the already-convinced, and Erwin wonders what would happen if we took all the energy we put into things like making music for Christians and simply became an environment for normal humans to interact.
  • He dreams of leaders who are even willing to be ostracized by other Christians for their radicality in making Jesus known (this actually is what biblically between Jesus-followers and “religious” people), who will go to “third” places and even be shunned by denominations (his words) and accused of heresy (which he has been, again and again) because of their passion to make Christ known.

Erwin’s talk moved me deeply, because I think it resonates with the core calling I have felt and I think our community at Connexus has felt.  Moving church from the comfort of a multi-million dollar facility into the sticky floors and pungent smell of a movie theater where normal people actually gather has been challenging but great, and is some ways is like a first step into a third place. (Erwin’s church meets in venues like night clubs where his volunteer team puts on while gloves and wipes excrement and vomit off the walls to prepare for worship). Some Christians may feel alienated by a move like that, but there are so many fresh faces who finally feel like God is becoming more accessible – who realize for the first time that Jesus actually wants a relationship with them.

It challenged me to make more space in my life for living in third places, for engaging the curiosity and hunger of thousands of people who would probably like to know this Jesus but don’t.  As much as I feel there is this call on my life, I am still so incredibly comfortable.  I’d love to die trying to figure out innovative ways to reshape lives around Jesus.  Clearly what we’re doing in the North American church now isn’t really working, with 60% of Americans and 85% of Canadians voting “no” to Christianity every weekend.

If we really believe that Jesus is who He said He is, why don’t we go for broke in sharing all of Him with the world?  I’m excited to be part of a community that more and more is willing to risk it all for the sake of those who don’t yet know Jesus.

What do you think about third places?  What would need to be true for your passion for lost people to be white hot?

Brand New: A Step-By-Step Framework For Leading Change...
Even When It Feels Like Everyone Is Against You.

Every leader—myself included—knows what we need to change. But most of us get stuck on how to bring about that change.

Between the opposition, self-doubt, and unknowns, change freezes so many leaders.

  • How do you know which risks are worth taking? 
  • What do you do when you’re faced with opposition? 
  • Who should have input in the process? Who do you tell?
  • How do you develop the strength to keep pushing, even when it feels like everything is working against you? 

You may think it’s just you that experiences these doubts, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

So how do you lead change without giving up your dream of what could and should be? How do you stay relevant, even when change isn’t working in your favor? 

My brand new course, The Art of Leading Change, is a step-by-step guide to making the right changes and implementing them successfully.

In the course, you get my entire playbook for leading change—from start to finish:

  • Determine who is for (or against) the change and why
  • Know exactly when you need to make changes and how quickly you'll need to make them
  • Learn who to include and listen to each step of the way... and who not to include
  • Frameworks to communicate change effectively and with minimal pushback
  • Decide where to focus your attention and develop the questions that will set your course
  • Learn how to persevere until your critical breakthrough
  • And much more

It’s the complete package of frameworks, mindsets, strategies, and skills that will equip you to lead change with confidence and wisdom.

Are you ready to lead your organization into a brighter future? Today, you can get access to it all.

Share This Post
Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]