“Front porches”

May 1, 2003

[Scott]So there’s this guy, Scott, who has been wearing a nametag for 911 days straight. It started as a silly experiment, wondering what would happen. What he found was that in general, people were more willing to communicate with him. “The truth is it’s not all about nametags, it’s about approachability.”

Things get really interesting when he starts talking about “front porches“, which he defines as “any behavior or object that serves as a mechanism for approachability.” His challenge is not just to offer a “front porch” to other people, but to take advantage of opportunities presented by other people. “Next time you see someone with a dog, a t-shirt of your favorite band or a ten gallon hat, say something to them! You never know whom you might meet, or what you might learn!”

So how can I create one or more “front porches” in my life? What about a home group or home church — what are possible “front porches” in a small, relational group? What about a larger community of faith — is this where the concept of church as a Third Place comes in? (When you go to that link, move your mouse over the colored bars for further explorations of Third Places.)

Nametag series:

  1. “Front porches”
  2. Adventures in Nametagging
  3. Adventures in Nametagging 2
  4. Adventures in Nametagging 3
  5. The Dollar: A Nametag Adventure

Jon Reid

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As an American missionary kid who grew up in Japan, I'm a child of two cultures, while not fully belonging to either. This gives me a sightly different view of the world.

4 responses to “Front porches”

  1. wow, that’s huge. Admittedly, I constantly avoid referring to church as a place at all. But since people of common faith will continue to gather regularly anyway, it’s a great perspective to put that gathering into context as the Third place, not the first. “Church” then becomes not something to which we drag people from their lives and cultures in a weak outsourcing attempt at “evangelism”, but rather a gathering space naturally existing for those of that common pursuit to bring their stories from the other, necessary spaces.
    “It creates ‘rolling community’ – there’s no need to all be in the same place at the same time. It works like Cheers or the Queen Vic, or films like ‘Slacker’ and ‘La Ronde’ – as one set of characters leave another set arrive. All are connected by the bar staff [who themselves come and go] or one or two members who exchange groups. These are bearers of news, conveyors of messages etc. Everybody does some connecting in this way. The community is a network, not a spoked wheel dependent on a few at the centre.”
    Frickin huge, vicious bunny. Here come the mental backflips.

  2. Cheers:
    Where everyone knows your name

  3. and they’re always glad you came

  4. This is a great blog entry today! It gives me much to meditate on today. Yes, I will try it!
    ++Dear Lord, please create a front porch in my life today. Creat opportunities just to speak, and then listen to people. Empower us all to be living epistles for you!++