What is the first thought that comes to mind when a traditional church’s interiors is visualised. The pulpit, the stained glass windows and of course rows and rows of dark gleaming teak wood pews, not to forget the organ of course. But all that is set to change now. Churches have moved away from being solely a place of worship to one that hosts a variety of activities related to the community. Church buildings today host bible studies, religious concerts and conclaves and even children’s carnivals. Youth group meetings and small games and activities where everybody in the parish participates are regular events, making the church a place where people from all age groups can bond together.
Given this scenario, the question that crops up is whether all these events can be held if most of the interiors are occupied by static pews. Hence churches are slowly moving away from pews to chairs for its obvious advantages.
Most churches are opting now for comfortably upholstered stackable metal chairs over pews. This is because the seating space becomes flexible and can be adjusted to various needs. All chairs can be stacked up and space created for carnivals or a few can be laid out for group meetings. For concerts and regular church service, all chairs can be set up to accommodate members of the parish.
In an emergency too, chairs have an edge over pews. Churches with installed security alarm systems in Melbourne or wherever for that matter will find it is much easier to evacuate people when the alarms go off in case of fire. It is quicker to push chairs away and run out than pews. Incidentally, while on the subject of security alarms, one of the top dealers and distributors of hi-tech security systems in Melbourne is One-Tech Security.
Then there is the point of increased seating capacity where chairs score a point over pews. Average linear seating space earmarked in pews is about 24 inches while a comfortable worship chair is 20 inches wide. This instantly makes for a savings of 20% in space. Add to this is the fact that most people do not like to sit closely together and only about 80% of a pew is filled to capacity and an estimate can be made of the savings in space for chairs over pews.
Last but not the least is the matter of comfort. Pews have a straighter back than conventional worship chairs which have a more pronounced back pitch. Further, chairs have a foam thickness of 3 inches while the average for pews is 2inches. This makes chairs a more comfortable option.
The debate of pews vs. chairs can be never ending but with the greater role that churches play in the community today that needs more flexible seating options, chairs are definitely a better alternative.