Yesterday I started a short series of posts concerning how Tapestry sets up for our Sunday morning worship gatherings. The post yesterday was about the coffee & snack table, something that probably seems an afterthought, but I believe is integral to who we are trying to be. Today I will write concerning the way we set up our chairs.
Let’s use the model of Rublev’s Icon of the Trinity again. Just in case you have forgotten from yesterday what the icon looks like I’ve posted it to the right. Rublev painted the Trinity as the Three being One in a conversation around a table. The Trinity is nigh impossible to describe because it is the mystery of our faith. God is a relationship in and of Himself. He is One in union of Three. I can’t give you a perfect example because this paradox of faith is outside of creation as the Creator is outside of creation. In yesterday’s post I described the desire to setup our worship gatherings similar to this icon (i.e. a divine conversation of love). The way we set up our chairs should reflect that divine conversation.
The hope is for our gathering to be a conversation in our singing, our prayer, and our message. This conversation is why we don’t use the gym stage. I’m not personally opposed to stages if they help the conversation, which they can do sometimes. If somehow a stage helps the leaders to be more a part of the group, more easily seen or heard in leading, that’s a great thing. It is just that usually stages do the exact opposite, they separate the ones leading from the ones being led. In such cases the stage says “these are the important people.” So Tapestry skips the stage and when I am speaking at other places I try to skip the stage in those places too. Thus we are on the floor in the midst of a slightly widened “C”.
The chairs need to kind of start to engulf whoever is leading us at the moment. My personal hope is that this partial engulfing will help to counteract the fact that we need a few voices to be amplified during the gathering. The microphones are necessary evil. They help whoever is leading our music (Eric, Heidi, Sarah, Elizabeth, or others) to better lead us. They help me or whoever else is speaking to be better heard in our gym (I have a tendency to kick into a conspiratorial whisper every now and then). Unfortunately they also have the effect of making it seem as though a few voices are the only ones that matter. Like stages microphones can send then message that “this is the person whose voice matters”. When that is the case it isn’t a conversation but a monologue. So we try to make sure the mic’d people are in the midst of everyone else. They are leading us, not separate from us.
If I had my druthers, we would set up each week’s gathering in the round. What this means is that our chairs would literally setup in a circle where we are facing each other. We would sing with everyone facing each other. I would speak with all of us facing each other. We would pray with all of us facing each other. The times we have done setup in the round it is basically like we are sitting at a round table. The reason that we don’t do this is because, while I love it, being in the round pretty much freaked out most everyone else. I was such a fan of it till a few threads pointed out that if it freaked them out, people who already loved Tapestry, just imagine what it did to someone who was walking in for the very first time. It was also pointed out that the only seats that we typically open when we setup in the round were the front seats and that was not cool for a guest. We try to have the back row free for guests (I just realized that I need to stress this again because it has been awhile since the last time I emphasized this). Hopefully one day I will convince everyone that in the round is the best for the conversation and thus it is super cool.
Tomorrow I will end this short series of posts.