I came across this article somewhere while browsing one day. I thought it described perfectly the
difference between Native traditions, with ceremonies
conducted in a circle, and what happens in a church. This
stayed with me for months, until I finally decided I should
share it here.
When people sit in a circle, something powerful happens, which
is totally unlike the interaction people have when they are
seated in rows.
In rows, people look at and learn from the pastor. In a circle,
they look at and learn from each other.
In rows, people are treated as passive and dependent. People
wait for the ďprofessionalsĒ to minister to them. There is a
strong message of inequality between the leadership team and the
congregation. In a circle, people are active and self-directed.
They are implicitly empowered to minister to each other. There
is a sense of equity and respect for everyone.
In rows, there is no opportunity to respond to the information
presented. There is no place for prior knowledge or life
experience to be shared. There is no chance to discuss, ask
questions or disagree. In a circle, there is ample opportunity
to interact with and explore new ideas and concepts. Individual
life experiences are valued and sought; and robust discussion is
allowed and encouraged.
In rows, learning is minimised and boredom is prevalent.
Learning is constrained to a single event and a single
intelligence (listening). The focus is on attaining knowledge
from a single source (the pastor). In a circle, learning is
maximised by tapping into multiple intelligences and promoting
an attitude of continuous learning. The focus is on growing
wisdom through shared experiences and interaction, and applying
that wisdom to real-life situations.
A circle creates community.
A circle activates learning.
A circle empowers everybody.
A circle accelerates authenticity.
A circle gives everyone a voice and value.
A circle is a natural way of interacting.
A circle is symbolic in its very nature. A circle speaks of
unity; of equality; of connectedness; of completeness. A circle
is non-hierarchical, organic and natural.
Iím not saying that every interaction we have in church has to
take place in circles. I am saying that we donít use them often
enough, and that we havenít discovered the power of using
circles in our Sunday church services.