Church Chairs v. Pews: Weighing the Pros and Cons
Churches, especially start-ups, must decide between using church chairs or pews in their sanctuaries. But what’s the difference? What are the pros and cons of each choice? Here are some thoughts that I hope will help make your choice easier.
SPACE/LAYOUT How your sanctuary or meeting room is laid out and how much space you have is an obvious consideration. Would long pews fit and give the attendees in every pew/seat a good view of the pulpit? Is there space for an aisle and walkways if you use pews? If you are using the space for multiple functions, would the flexibility and mobility of church chairs be a better fit for the space? If your location is not a permanent location, then adding pews could be high risk if you move into a new facility that doesn’t support a similar layout or functionality. Church chairs can be moved out of the way, stacked for storage, and easily set up in different configurations or ganged together (with the included ganging brackets) for the ultimate in convenience and choice when it comes to space and layout. Pews, on the other hand, cannot.
COST The upfront cost between church chairs and pews differs greatly. Church chairs are much less expensive for the initial purchase than pews, which are often hand-crafted from wood. However, church chairs often need repaired or replaced before a long-lasting pew, so there could be additional costs after the initial purchase. For a start-up church though, the initial budget is probably a little tighter and cost could be a deciding factor.
COMFORT If you have a lot of young families in your church, pews make it easy for the kids to sprawl out (or squish together) and offer a surface to color in their coloring books or play on while keeping occupied so as not to disturb the rest of the congregation. If you have a lot of older members in your church, a soft, padded church chair is going to be very comfortable during the hour -long sermon. Where pews can have a hard back and sometimes a hard seat, chairs are much softer. Church chairs give each person a pre-defined amount of space and wiggle room. For adults, this might feel more comfortable, because we tend to want a set amount of personal space.
BOOKS & BULLETINS Pews and church chairs are tied neck-to-neck on this consideration, because there are typically book racks attached to the back of pews, and church chairs offer a book rack beneath the seat and a pocket in the back, as well. Both options offer the convenience of holding your Bible, hymnal, and program/bulletin during each service.
STYLE/AESTHETICS When it comes to style, it is usually left to personal opinion. There’s no denying the old world style and ultimate beauty of rows of wooden pews in a traditional style church. However, church chairs offer a more modern and contemporary feel to a church’s setting. Aesthetically speaking, both can be arranged in a neat and orderly manner, making either choice a beautiful edition to your sanctuary.
For churches looking to purchase church chairs or pews, please feel free to post your additional questions or comments below to help add to this debate.