Not long ago, a fast-food restaurant tried to start something called “FourthMeal”. In addition to our three main meals, they wanted you to choose to do a fourth one…and to choose them for it. Hard to say the effectiveness of this advertising campaign but you have to wonder how much another meal served our waistlines.
For families, there is a similar choice to what we add to our main commitments. It is a choice we all make, but may not be conscious of—the “third place”. This week, in our chapter on the family and the church makeover, we learned that most have home and work as the first two places in daily family life. But we have freedom when we get to the third one: What do we choose for our “third place”? Modern times allows a family a great deal of options to choose from: hobbies, sports, music, community organizations, and many others. Many of these can be our “third place”. This “third place” choice reveals what our priorities are and tell our children and family what we consider important.
But how can we tell what our “third place” is? You can identify it by asking yourself: What area do I schedule around (or would even cancel for) above everything else? In spiritual language, many would call this part of the schedule a “sacred space”. Everything else is prioritized around this and is “second”.
Perhaps you and your family are Christians/Christ-followers, but you’ve allowed other things to become the “third place”. It’s never too late to change.
The question is whether what we put in that “third space” is worthy of being called sacred.
What would Christ have our “third place” be? The theme of this book has been about having Christ at the center of our family life. In him, we find the answer to what that “third place” is. It is found in what he would put his very life down for: Christ gave himself up for the church. If we desire to have Christ be the center of our families, we have to commit ourselves to that for which he laid down his life. Sadly, no church is perfect. That is why the church reminds itself, in words and actions, that there is need for a Savior and a continuing need for Christ in our daily lives.
Perhaps you are considering Jesus. Despite its imperfections and need for Christ’s ongoing help, the church is a great place to learn about the love of God and redemption that can be found in Jesus. You will find in Jesus Christ one worthy of your trust and a group of imperfect people to follow him with.
As the church becomes your family’s “third place”, your children will see it not as a “drop off” for spiritual things (like they go to band for music or gym for exercise). They will see it as a people that they are a part of and with whom they grow and serve Christ. They will see the wonder of all that Christ hopes for the church…and you, as family, will be a part of it!
THIS WEEK’S DISCUSSION: (Join the conversation below in the “Comments” link.) How have you made the church a “third place” in your family’s life? What helped make that possible (habits you formed, attitudes you expressed, etc.)?
For Next Week: LAST CHAPTER—Do one of the activities at the end of Chapter 5 on the Church Makeover and join us here next week for our final discussion!
 In Faith Begins at Home: The Family Makeover with Christ at the Center
 Ephesians 5:25