- Extend the Easter experience into a more familiar space. After Easter service, have a plan to move from 3rd space back to a 1st or 2nd space where the two of you have common ground. Go on a bike ride. Plan on sharing Easter lunch with your friend at your home. Don’t just digest the meal, somehow digest the message. Talk though the experience. The more immediate you are with this the more effective.
- Don’t be offended by criticisms. If your friend talks about parts of the service or the message that made him or her feel uncomfortable, or perhaps even points they disagreed with, don’t freak out. The gospel is offensive. Sympathize with the comment and work through it. Humor is a great way to disarm tension. Don’t laugh at your friend by laughing at their objections, but don’t shy away from laughing at yourself. If you don’t think Christians are funny, visit John Acuff’s “Stuff Christians Like.”
- Don’t belittle questions. Your friend may ask questions that seem elementary to you, but if you make them feel stupid Easter will be the end. For instance, not everyone understands that the Bible is broken down into books. When your pastor says, “Go to John” that could be taken several different ways. Never assume anyone knows the most basic stories of the Bible. When your friend asks questions, it is an invitation from them to you to reduce the alien nature of the church as a 3rd space.
- Make mental clips into conversation pieces. If your church has an app, webpage, or you pastor writes a blog, use that content to share with your friend and keep the conversation moving forward. You can do this in a not so awkward way by sharing thoughts from past sermons or articles that pertain to the natural course of conversation. “My pastor said . . .” “I read the other day . . .” Instead of, “O.K. so now I want you to sit here and watch this 30 minute message from last week and let’s talk about it tomorrow.” Make your own mental clips into conversation pieces. Your friends are like you. They need answers to life. Surely something your church is saying is meaningful to that conversation.
- They came to your 3rd space, accept an invitation to come into their space. McManus’s talk on 3rd spaces was really focused more on this concept. The reason most of us make very little cultural impact is because we will receive very few invitations into 3rd spaces. If you do make it into 3rd space, you may be every bit as uncomfortable with that experience as your friend was with their Easter experience. Recently I have accepted several invitations to speak to groups that were galaxies away from my normal Sunday context. Don’t be afraid to venture into a galaxy far, far away from Easter.
- Don’t farm out follow up. I mentioned this in my post about making Easter effective, and I want to reiterate this point again. Your pastor is a comeback killer. If all your friend gets from Easter is a call or a visit from your pastor, they will never come back and they may want to kill you :). The pastor is the master alien. The visitation team is merely his minions. Your friend probably won’t appreciate an alien invasion from 3rd space. If you wait on the pastor and his minions, you have immediately moved the gospel conversation back into outer space! You keep the conversation going in 1st and 2nd space.
- Help your church get over Easter. To be successful at reaching people, your church needs to ultimately become less of a 3rd space. Sometimes churches become calloused environments focused only on meeting the needs of the people already there. Eventually the church becomes a closed group that becomes more and more difficult for you to invite friends. We need an honest answer to this question. How many people do you see each Sunday inviting their friends? If people are not inviting people to your church, something needs to change. People will bring people to a place that is meaningful and exciting.
Look around. Does the nursery look like a kennel for Christian babies? Does the seating look KJV? Do the Sunday School or small group spaces look like a visit to the principal’s office circa 1953? If the bathroom at the rec. field has more going for it than the stalls at God’s house, oh my! You see the needs before your friends do. Help your church get over Easter by getting involved in the daily process. If you are prone only to serve at your church on clean-up day or at the egg hunt Easter week, Easter has become your ultimate end. Be a servant all year long.