You don’t have to meet in a circle to make church more interactive and participatory – but it sure helps. Here are some options for seating arrangements…
Circles – if your community is small enough, you could meet in a circle. Or a horseshoe. Or a square with rounded edges. Or even concentric circles (although people miss out on being able to see everyone else’s faces).
Smaller circles – another option is to break off into smaller groups. You could sit around tables. This allows for more intimate conversations, but requires a higher level of facilitation – or even a facilitator in each group.
Flower – a “flower shape” allows a good compromise between the two previous options. If you have a large group, break them up around tables, but place the tables in a large circle or semi-circle so they can connect as a whole group. Every person can see everyone else, although it may involve some head-turning. This allows for intimate conversations, as well as feeding back to the combined group.
Small groups – even if you are still sitting in rows, you may be able to break into small groups of 4 or more, simply by turning your chairs around.
Two or more – if the pews are bolted to the floor and you can’t do anything about it, at least structure the service so that groups of two or more can turn and talk to each other at regular intervals.