*From a recently published article
MainStreet Covenant Church will soon open a new center in the Stonegate Plaza in Mound. Hometown Pastor Jeremy Berg is quick to make clear, “This is not a church building; it’s a community gathering place — a cafe, live music venue, book club hub, public meeting space, after school youth hangout — where we happen to have church on Sundays.” MainStreet, as it’s name implies, is rethinking church for the 21st century and seeking creative and compelling ways to bring the hope and message of Christ beyond the sanctuary walls and onto “Main Street” — or, as the Bible says, “in the marketplace daily with all who happen to be there” (Acts 17:17).
MainStreet’s new place is an example of what author Ray Oldenburg calls a “third place” in his influential book The Great Good Place (1989). According to Oldenburg, one’s “first place” is the home and those that one lives with. The “second place” is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. Third places, then, are “anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction.
All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is how intentional people are in seeking them out as vital to current societal needs. “Its time churches pick up on this societal trend,” says Berg. “Why should restaurants and coffeeshops be the only places people go to meet with friends and discuss the latest ideas?”
Oldenburg lists the following hallmarks of a true “third place”:
- Free or inexpensive
- Food and drink, while not essential, are important
- Highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance)
- Involve regulars — those who habitually congregate there
- Welcoming and comfortable
- Both new friends and old should be found there.
In a day when churches are often seen by the general public as private clubs mainly serving their own members, Pastor Berg likes to quote Bishop William Temple who once said, “The Church is the only society on earth that exists for the benefit of non-members.” MainStreet wants this new community gathering place to say to the broader public: “We’re here to serve the Westonka community, and we hope this new facility will benefit everyone.”
This ministry approach materialized several years back when Berg, then a local youth pastor, began hosting youth concerts and monthly open-mic events that drew crowds of Westonka youth out on a Friday night. “Some came for the music, some came to socialize, others came to explore ideas of faith and religion, but all felt welcome and had a good time. I’ve found that many spiritual seekers today will not find their way to church on Sunday morning for answers or help,” says Berg, “But they’ll gladly meet over a cup of coffee at the local coffeeshop or pub.” MainStreet wants to create this kind of public place in Mound to interact on a daily basis with people of all ages and walks of life.
The new center will include a cozy cafe-lounge area, coffeebar, concert-auditorium, classrooms and nursery, library and reading area, and church office. In the new space, MainStreet plans to begin hosting live music events, book clubs, youth concerts, public discussion forums, after school programs, children and family classes, Sunday worship, and more.
MainStreet is a small congregation (only a year old) with a very meager budget, and is depending on the support of the broader community. They have already raised $32,000 and are seeking one-time donations or 20 MainStreet Partners to donate $100/month (totalling $1,200) to reach its fundraising goal of $55,000 for the project. Please consider an end of the year contribution.
You can donate easily and securely online at www.mainstreetcovenant.org or send a check payable to ‘MainStreet Covenant’ to 2146 Cedar Lane, Mound, MN 55364. Thanks for your investment in this dream!