Soho, London is known for many things: theatreland, boutique shops, popular bars and the renowned ‘Ronnie Scotts’. Its wonderfully eclectic, artistic vibe draws native and tourist alike. But what does that have to do with Third Space Ministries?
Whilst offering chaplaincy to dancers in strip clubs in Ibiza, our nightlife coordinator Lu, learned that many of them would return to the UK to work in Soho strip clubs during the winter season. Back in the UK, she and a few volunteers spent many months prayer walking, listening to where God would open doors for them to bring Strip Club Chaplaincy to Soho.
Last September, armed with homemade chocolate brownies and hearts full of love, Lu and her newly trained team began going into one of the clubs two evenings a week. Over the past nine months they have become a regular fixture, available for several hours to listen, chat, and pray with the women as they prepare for a night of work. As trusting relationships have developed, deep conversations and many opportunities to pray and share faith have emerged.
The club management recognise the gentle spirit and positive atmosphere the team carry with them and have recommended them to other local club managers.
Ellie has volunteered her time since the beginning of this venture. We asked her for some thoughts on what happens when you are consistently present in a third space. She reflects…
There are two main ways that I have seen the impact of going back to the strip clubs week after week. The first is the way it allows relationships to develop naturally and meaningfully. Each week the women that we meet open up a little more, learning to trust that they can share their lives and thoughts with us. Simple gestures like remembering someone’s name, or asking after a matter we prayed about previously, shows the love and care that people are craving. In an industry where kindness is often used to further a selfish agenda, we have been able to show that the kindness of God is not fleeting and is without agenda.
By going into the same clubs every week we have met and built deep relationships with incredible people, earned the right to trust, and become a safe place to offer support and care. We meet people at different stages of their spiritual journey but wherever we intersect, we relish the opportunities to plant seeds of hope and encouragement in peoples lives, blessing and challenging them, and showing them compassion and love.
The second way we want to be present is by transforming the culture and atmosphere of the clubs and nightlife industry. As we have developed dialogue with the staff management and they have watched us at work, they have come to appreciate the peace that we carry into the clubs, and the role of care that we provide. Slowly, we are challenging the culture that treats love as a transaction, demonstrating that God wants to be right there, loving freely and extravagantly.
By being integrated into and invested in the community, we can really get to grips with and understand its needs, rather than speculating from the outside in. And as we are consistently present, we have seen that we can shape and change the culture by our love, example and prayers.
Whether it’s your gym, a coffee shop you frequent, or a space where you pursue a hobby, do be looking for ways to get to know your community, show kindness and be a witness for Jesus. Being consistently present in one space is so worth the long term impact it can have.