A few months ago I started getting interested in co-working spaces. I’m not sure what began the interest, but I’ve always been one who has liked to work in “third spaces.” Especially as a pastor, the days of people coming to the office to “visit the pastor” are going away (if not gone already for many younger pastors I know), and I often get bored just sitting at a desk. As people who should be connecting with the community, I think it’s important that pastors get out of the church.
I would often run into people from the church when I worked in Ashland and frequented one of my favorite coffee shops, Noble Coffee. Not only that – but if you work at the same coffee shop often, you get to establish relationships with the baristas and others who choose to work there as well. And, let’s be honest, you also get to Instagram a lot of photos of your coffee art (like mine below).
But there are also some practical things to consider about coffee shops. There are some places that limit the time on the wifi. Others make it a little difficult to always find a working outlet. Or maybe you show up and the only table that’s open is the one that is taller than you’d like and it always feels a little awkward working there (this happens to me a lot – I’m very particular about the height of the table I use). And then there is the time when you get all of your stuff set up, you’ve paid for your drink, and soon after opening your laptop you realize…THE WIFI IS DOWN!
I love working in the community – but when the wifi is down? Forget it.
Enter co-working spaces. Co-working spaces are found all over urban areas, but they are spreading out to the suburbs and beyond. I began to check out what co-working spaces were available up here in the North Shore, and I ended up spending a day at one in Wilmette called CoWorkers. They were willing to let me spend a day or two just “testing it out.” The day I went, I had a great desk with a view of downtown Wilmette. It was someone’s birthday, and his wife brought in lunch for everyone at the facility (including the random new guy, me).
In addition to getting some good work done, I met 3-4 people and had some really good conversations about our respective jobs, the church and spirituality in today’s world. None of which would have happened if I was sitting at my desk in the church.
If there are co-working spaces around you – I’d encourage you to check them out and see if they’ll let you try it out for a day or two to get a feel for it. And if you enjoy the experience, use some professional expenses to use the space for a month and see what, if any, affect it has on your ministry, your ability to get work done and your outreach into the community.
I also think there are some great opportunities for church planting + co-working finding a nice partnership, but that’s for another post.