My husband has been facilitating church in a circle for the past few years. We’ve tried to condense some of the “big ideas” we’ve learned over that time into 10 points…
1. Christ is the centre. Use the circle as a strong visual reminder that we have a central theme and focus, and that everything we do should revolve around Jesus.
2. One leader, many teachers, no professors. We have a leader – Jesus. All of us are qualified to teach one another. “Professors”/“experts” shut down dialogue and participation and unintentionally disempower God’s people.
3. Stop performing, start empowering. Get off the stage and start giving people a voice, a value and an impact. Don’t position them as a passive audience, dependent on a professional performer.
4. “The least of these” are the greatest. In Jesus’ upside-down kingdom, the last are first, the foolish shame the wise and weak shame the strong. The most unexpected people have the most to offer the community. When you empower the “least of these”, you empower everybody.
5. Get them talking – unlock them early. Get them talking early on and you won’t have to work hard later in the session. Don’t talk too much – push the “ball” out to others. Ask open questions. Look for involvement, not “correct answers”.
6. Create a “no-fail zone”. Accept everyone, as Christ accepted you – and demonstrate that acceptance by affirming people’s answers, opinions and stories. Set up a non-judgemental environment of respect, trust and safety.
7. Laughter leads to learning. Create a fun, active environment for learning together. “Haha” leads to “aha”. When people have fun, it primes the brain for learning and helps the community bond.
8. Discovery is the best teacher. Learning is more powerful when you do it yourself. Don’t spoonfeed people – make them work for their meal. Lectures impart information, but don’t help people think for themselves, change their attitudes and actions. Set up activities which make people think, problem solve and discover insights for themselves.
9. Whole body learning (head, heart & hands). Ears are not the only body part for learning. Engage different senses. Set up learning activities to involve the mind, mouth, emotions and movement.
10. Slow down, shut up and listen. Relax. Get comfortable with long pauses and awkward silences. Never answer your own questions. Have coffee breaks. Don’t try to cover too much ground – “Less is more”. Listen to individuals. Listen to what isn’t being said. Listen to where the group is heading together. Listen to the Holy Spirit – he speaks through the most unexpected people. Trust yourself less and trust God more.