We go to church to be with each other. We go to meet with God’s people, and worship God in community. Church is all about relationships – our relationship with God, and our relationship with his people. The most precious resource we have as a church is each other. We are God’s people, called to live out his story through our lives and in our neighbourhoods, and we need each other for support, encouragement and accountability. And yet our weekly meetings are structured to serve us an individual worship experience, not connect us as a community.
Churches are doubling up on programs because meeting in rows isn’t meeting people’s core spiritual needs. We’re running Bible study groups on Wednesday nights (so people can engage directly with God’s Word in a group setting), social groups on Friday nights (so people can get to know each other better), and mission groups on Saturday afternoons (so people can find ways to apply God’s Word in real life) – all for the same people who attend on Sunday mornings. Why? Because the Sunday morning church service isn’t effectively connecting, engaging and empowering God people. We’re tying God’s people up in multiple meetings, taking them out of the world and using up all their free time, because the format we’re using for “church” isn’t allowing people to connect, learn or grow.
Seating people in rows, week after week, doesn’t make sense anymore. If we want people to listen to great speakers, let’s send them a link to some online sermons. If we want them to hear great music, give them a CD. But if we’re going to get a group of people together who share the same goals and vision, who want to know God more and serve him on earth, lets not waste the opportunity for them to speak face-to-face with one another, share their knowledge and experience of God’s story, and have an impact in each others’ lives.
Circles allow us to connect. Circles help us to engage with God’s message. And circles empower people to grow and to act. Let’s seriously consider changing the seating in order to change the culture.