The ways that we arrange our chairs within the spaces we meet can enhance or impede the effectiveness of relational connections. As we try to build ministries that are founded on relationships, we find the circles are greater than rows.
When chairs are organized in rows, everyone faces the same direction in a setting that is like a classroom at school. This seating arrangement is not conducive to personal interaction and connection. People in rows tend to spread out, leaving empty chairs between them and other people. This creates space that serves as a relational buffer. It limits eye contact and restricts opportunities to connect, engage, and interact with others. In row settings content is typically communicated from the front of the room by a single leader. While there may be some opportunity for questions and discussion in this setting, they tend to be more formal in style. Listeners talk to the leader, not one another, and participation requires people to be bolder and more confident. It can be intimidating to speak up in front of a large group.
Rows are meant for listening to lectures.
Relational ministry is more suited to smaller circles.
Circles are more conducive to engagement, interaction, communication, and participation in discussion. Circles keep people in closer proximity to one another. We do not spread out when we circle up; we come together. Circles make participants feel seen and included, and cause people to feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts and observations."We need to create spaces that are conducive to fostering friendships, not just listening to lectures." – Chuck Peters Click To Tweet
Circles are meant for interactive discussion.
The Christian faith is intended to be lived out in relationship. Kids need to find friends at church and know that their leaders know them personally. We need to create spaces that are conducive to fostering friendships, not just listening to lectures.
As you get ready for ministry this Sunday, take a look at the arrangement of your chairs, and look for opportunities to circle up.
Circles > rows.
Chuck Peters is Director of Lifeway Kids. Before his role at Lifeway, Chuck had a prolific career in television and video production. He is a 3-time Emmy Award Winning producer, director, writer and on-screen talent. A graduate of Columbia Bible College, Chuck, and his wife, Cris, have served in Student and Children’s Ministry for many years.