It’s our 10th birthday year and to start our celebrations, I sat down with founder and CEO, Carolyn Skinner to ask her some questions reflecting on the past 10 years…
When you first started Third Space Ministries, did you think you’d be here 10 years later?
Honestly no I didn’t! At our first trustee meeting I was told we only had enough money in the bank to last for three months! It started small and always felt fragile and I just had to see where God would take it. I took it one step at a time, following my heart and passion and holding on to the promises that God had given me. I hoped for 10 years but I couldn’t envision it at that point! I hadn’t even written a 10 year plan down. So I’m really happy we are here!
What has been most surprising about the journey so far?
I think I have two answers to this question. Firstly, how doors have opened so readily to chaplaincy. Doors to strip clubs in Soho, the number of DJs coming to us for spiritual support, invitations to serve at festivals. I anticipated much more resistance, but when God is in something there’s a smoothness that comes too. Against the backdrop of some of the hardest spiritual contexts, we find over and over that people are at their most open to God.
Secondly, that I would be involved in DJ ministry is one of the biggest surprises. The first time I went to Ibiza, God put the passion in my heart for DJs and the music industry, and I would regularly pray for the industry over the next 10 years. But it had never really been my scene and I didn’t know any DJs then or any of the big names. Then I began to meet Christian DJs and find myself connecting them. I felt like the last person to facilitate this but I sensed God saying, “I’ve heard your prayers and I am bringing them to you”. So I felt it was my responsibility then to gather them together, let them talk and see what God would birth from that. And look what has grown! It does feel bizarre that I have ended up in the midst of this but I’ve loved it!!
What is one of the most important things you have learned?
I would say, keeping in step with the leading of the Holy Spirit. There are so many third spaces where we could be, so many great ideas we could follow, but if it hasn’t been God breathed then it comes with a sense of struggle and resistance. My question on prayer days is, “God, where are you working? What are we sensing that You are up to at the moment and do you want us to come and join you in that”. Sometimes I’ve pushed doors and then realised, this is not right or the timing is not right. I think that would be one of the key things I’ve learned.
What is one of your favourite memories?
There are so many! There was such a sense of excitement at the launch event 10 years ago and it felt so significant holding it at the All England Lawn Tennis Club. Every Love All Serve All, and every trip to Ibiza also holds a special place in my heart. But I think my favourite memory is being a sports chaplain at London 2012 – hosting the Olympics in my home town, practically living in the athletes village, the bonds that were formed with the other chaplains and the athletes… There was such a buzz across the nation and it was so special to be a part of that.
What is something that you are most grateful for?
Team! Staff, trustees, volunteers, prayer supporters, the churches that have backed us, the people that give financially. I use the term very widely but I feel that I have been so blessed with the Third Space family that God has brought around me. We would just not be here without all these people and I am genuinely so, so grateful for each one of them.
What impact or fruit do you enjoy seeing grow from Third Space?
Journeying with people as they begin to understand their identity in the eyes of God – those lightbulb moments: whether it’s a woman at our Wellsprings Course or a dancer in a strip club who begins to believe in their worth, that they are wonderfully made, or a person encountering God and their misconceptions of Him falling away. It is wonderful to walk with people and see them grow in their passion for Jesus. And also seeing Christians grow more confident and passionate in evangelism, through the outreach we do or through the Evangelism Course we run. Their excitement at seeing what God will do through them is a privilege to be a part of.
Is there a verse from the Bible that has been a source of strength and encouragement through the 10 years?
Two come to mind…
Isaiah 52:7 ‘How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.’ Wherever God takes my feet, even when I am in the darkest, dirtiest, vomit covered streets, because I am carrying the good news, my feet remain incredibly beautiful. To be a deliverer of good news is a beautiful thing and I hold on to it being a beautiful thing to do what we do – sharing the love of Jesus in third spaces.
Matthew 5:14 in The Message says ‘You’re here to be the light, bringing out the God colours and the God flavours.’ Its a reminder that there will be no place that we go to where God is not already present, and that our lives can bring out the God colours and flavours so that people can see and encounter Him. We are just going to join Him where He’s at.
If you could go back in time, what is one piece of advice you would give yourself 10 years ago?
To trust that God will bring you the people that you need. I had no clue how to run a charity, how to sort out HR stuff, legal requirements and the business side of things. My mind doesn’t work that way and those things really scared me. I knew that they needed to be done. Looking back, I would tell myself that I am not expected to be able to do everything – but to surround yourself with the people that do. I’ve learned that when God gives you the vision he will resource and equip and provide for that.
In terms of pioneering, accept that you won’t always fit in or be understood, and that the nature of pioneering is that you have little to compare it with. It’s also often harder to measure fruit or raise funds. Surround yourself with like-minded people to learn from and who can become your travelling companions into uncharted territory: to encourage each other and spur each other on.
How are you going to celebrate this anniversary?
It’s going to be a busy year for us and we have lots of celebrating planned. We launch our 10K fundraising goal in a few weeks at a reception in the Houses of Parliament, we have a special event planned to thank our supporters, DJ chaplaincy and Illuminate Soho celebrate 2 and 1 year birthdays respectively, and we will host a big birthday bonanza at the end of the year. I’m really looking forward to meeting people who have been a part of this journey over the last 10 years.
But I also want to be aware day to day of celebrating even the smallest things, being in a posture of gratefulness for what God is doing. I don’t want to get lost in the busyness but to live each day with a sense of excitement and a celebratory mindset.
I’m also looking forward to planning for the next 10 years…!
Where do you hope Third Space Ministries will be by its 20th birthday?
Practically I hope that we will have grown our staff team, and will be present in more third spaces; be producing more resources for outreach and discipleship, and that we will be seeing chaplaincy normalised throughout the leisure and entertainment industry. I would love to see the management of strip clubs, nightclubs, gyms, festivals, DJ agencies and more asking each other “where do you get your chaplaincy from?!” That providing chaplaincy in third spaces will become a normal thing.
As we celebrate our 10th birthday this year we hope that you will celebrate with us. We will be posting upcoming events, fundraisers and our birthday party on our website, in newsletters and on social media. Make sure to follow our pages to keep up to date with everything we are up to and all the ways you can join in.
Thank you for being on this journey with us – for helping us get to 10 years old!