“Service in the Round” Results

Follow-up to: Trying Out a Different Setup: Service in the Round.

We tried a new layout for our service last Sunday evening for our “Leadership Community” special service. It was very different. The first noticeable thing was the intimacy. When I was leading worship, I was so close to the worshippers, I could really relate to them. It felt more like I was worshipping with them than before. At the same time, I also felt more like a shepherd, pointing them to God than when I was on a stage in front. It was very inspiring to see each person worshipping.

It required me to turn in different directions to include the whole congregation. This was nice. It encouraged movement on the platform, and the movement was very natural.

Some people disliked the fact that, while on the center stage, someone was always looking at their backside. Not intentionally, mind you, but when you have people are all the way around you, your back half is always going to be facing someone. It didn’t bother me much, but others were a bit uncomfortable.

A big disadvantage of having someone behind you is that they are unable to see your face as you speak or sing. And if you are not intentional about including everyone equally, one part of the congregation can easily feel neglected. In our case, what would normally have been the front left quarter of the room, was to the backside of the speaker about 90% of the time. They just never looked in that direction for some reason.

Since people were in a circle, they were facing people on the other side of the circle. Having the people face one another was very good for community. You got to really see the other people in the congregation. This could help faces quickly become familiar. More importantly, you can hear the other half of the congregation singing back at you…which is a great encouragement to sing yourself. I feel it would help song participation.

All in all, I really liked the layout. We are considering doing a 3 sided stage instead for the next time. More like an elongated stage coming out from the main one. This way your backside can still be to the wall, and we can still get in intimate setting. We’ll see how it goes.


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