Church leaders, how closely does the seating arrangement where you meet reflect the personality and expectations of your group? Many small groups leave an empty chair as a reminder of and invitation to those not there. The practice predates Clint Eastwood's use of it (and maybe Clint himself) long enough to generate some funny alternatives in this 2000 article (http://www.smallgroups.com/articles/2000/theemptychair.html). The photos here, taken from a single hallway in a single Upstate church, reflect a wide range of small cultures in what's an admittedly small sample.
As an inveterate chair hopper [and church architect] I probably care way too much about furniture. I like to move around within a group to shake up the habits that form so quickly. But try this: walk into your small group space as a stranger and ask the following questions:
What does the room's layout and furniture say about the level of interaction expected?
Is it approachable by strangers?
Can latecomers slip in without becoming a spectacle or interrupting what's going on?
Does the room welcome interruption?
What is the value and place of teaching and truth?
Are participants expected to lean forward or lean back?
Is what the room communicates an accurate reflection of who you are?