The goal of facilitating a small group discussion is to get the group to talk together. The best way to foster a discussion-based environment is to put the chairs and couches in a circle. While this might seem simple, I have seen some small group facilitators overlook this simple step. Let me explain more.
PUT THE CHAIRS AND COUCHES IN A CIRCLE
Nothing says “let’s talk” like a bunch of people in a circle looking at each other.
Circles versus Rows
When people are in rows, it encourages them to listen to a teacher. When people are in a circle, it encourages them to listen to each other and talk. A circle fosters a discussion environment which is what the LIFEGroups at our church are all about (a facilitator should talk less than 25 percent of the time).
If Using a DVD, Move the Chairs
If your group is using a DVD-based curriculum such as the studies produced by Chip Ingram and Living on the Edge, you might want to place a half circle facing the TV. Then after the DVD is done, you as the facilitator can move your chair to the position where the TV is. This saves room in the space you are using and allows you to easily see everyone in the group.
Ensure New People Have a Good Seat in the Circle
One of the elements of our LIFEGroups at Rocky Hill Community Church is for each group to have an “empty chair.” This is a literal “empty chair” that each group should have as a reminder for the group to pray for the unsaved people in their lives. And, it is a reminder that when someone shows up for the group, there should be an empty chair for the person to sit in. However, new people visiting your group most likely will be a little shy and take a seat that might be on the outside or not within the circle. Make sure the new person feels welcome to the group and that he has a good seat within the circle of the group next to everyone else.