Fourth place ministries
Every Christian is a minister. We all know about ministry within the church. Most of us understand that we minister in our families. Still fewer of us see our job as a place of ministry. These are the three “places” that ministry happens according to most.
Let me interject here, lest I be accused of plagiarism, that the ideas about “places” of ministry are not original to me. I first heard the basic idea several years ago at a conference and I do not remember who the speaker was that I heard it from.
As believers we recognize these three places, home, church, and work as important places for ministry but if that is where ministry ends I’m not sure our ministry is complete. There is a fourth place that is often neglected. It is the ‘fourth place’. Fourth places are places where people gather in their leisure time. These places include bars, malls, coffee shops, ball games, concerts, sports practices, beaches, marinas, you get the idea. I believe that the fourth place is the best place minister to unbelievers. The workplace is limited because if you are truly honoring God in your work you will be sensitive about using work time for spiritual conversations. In fact, truly effective, God-honoring marketplace ministry uses the workplace to build relationships and fourth places to expand on that relationship with more directed, biblical ministry. I position myself in a mall outside a coffee shop 2-3 days a week for a few hours and most of the time I end up in a conversation that relates to spiritual matters. In fact that last sentence took three days to write because of interrupting conversations. I suppose I could do this writing at home where I wouldn’t be interrupted. I could probably get more writing done but then I wouldn’t have had spiritually related conversations with Paul or Ken or Brad or Aziz or Mohammed or Abdullah or Keri or Alyssa or Erika or Jai and those are just a few whose names I know.
Acts 1:8 tells us that believers will be witnesses in “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the earth”. Maybe we can understand this verse in the following manner. Jerusalem represents the first place, home. Judea represents church. The workplace as Samaria, the place we would rather not be but have to be. The uttermost parts are the fourth places.
What ‘fourth places’ do you frequent? How can your being there result in ministry?