Circles are better than rows.
And yet, most of what we think of when it comes to church brings rows to mind. Church is a place where we learn about God. Church is a place of reflection. Church is a place where the people of God come together and remind ourselves of who we are in Christ and that identity clarifies our purpose when we leave the doors of the church.
But for the early Christians, church was never associated with a building. The phrase “go to church” would have been unintelligible because the church wasn’t a place it was a people. A people who knew one another’s names and were a family bonded together as a minority group within a culture that didn’t share their stories or values.
All that changed in the Fourth Century when Emperor Constantine “legalized” Christianity. All of a sudden, this cultural acceptance allowed Christians a chance to move from their circles to rows. And with the advent of rows, came established teachers trained to educate the masses with information about Jesus. And as we came to know about Jesus, we lost our knowledge and connection to one another.
I’m grateful to live in a time when gathering in rows is possible. I believe the early Christians would have gathered in rows if there were enough of them who could do so without threat from the Roman government.
But…I don’t think they ever imagined a time when they would stop sitting in circles. Because life is better connected.