Monday Teaching Tip: Circles are Better Than Rows

Today’s teaching tip could truly change your Bible study group. If your group meets on a church campus, chances are your classroom is arranged in rows. A room arranged in rows can discourage people from making comments and fully participating in discussion. Rows communicate several things:

  • The teacher is the expert
  • I am there to listen, not speak up
  • The teaching/learning experience will be something like the one I’ve known from my public school days

People are more apt to engage in vigorous dialog when they can see one another’s faces. That’s why a room arranged in a circle actually boosts conversation and discussion.

Empty folding chairs in circle

Here’s a hybrid solution in case your group is just too accustomed to meeting and learning in rows: keep the room arranged in rows, but at one point during your Bible study, ask group members to form circles of 5 to 6 people and assign them a question to discuss. People will speak up in ways they never would if they were in rows. Being face-to-face will boost discussion.

Instead of looking at the back of someone’s head, try helping people see one another’s faces. Use circles to boost discussion – and revolutionize your Bible study. Here are two short excepts from books whose authors know the importance of creating conversations in Bible study groups:

“…depth in learning is often directly related to how much people interact on a heart deep teachingpersonal level as they discover, wrestle, and apply principles from the text to their lives” (Heart Deep Teaching, p.127)

“A small group or class Bible study should be a ‘groupalogue’…Your effectiveness goes up incredibly as does learning when everyone is talking…” (Transformational Groups, p.24)


  1. Hi, Ken – I’ve noticed how much more I enjoy zoom meetings, because I can see everyone face to face. I think many people, who have been used to the row meetings, are a little put off by Zoom because they can’t hide. Whether you share or not, I’m more aware of my facial expressions and nervous ticks, like scratching my ears, adjusting my glasses, might seem like I’m not paying attention….

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