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Church Sanctuary Design: Designing the Perfect Space for Worship

The modern church today is focused on fellowship, ministry, and growth. And when it comes to church furnishings, nothing supports the mission of ministry more than church chairs. The flexibility that modern church chairs provide mean that congregations can come together easily and worship in ways that were just not possible in rigid church pews.

Why Church Chairs?

Longevity

On average, your typical church chair can last upwards of 10-20 years. If your church is planning on having consistent attendance for years to come, investing in church chairs would be a wise venture. The longevity is especially needed if your church is attended on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and Bible studies during the week. Good quality chairs will more than make up for their initial investment.

Budget Friendliness

As we all know, pews can be very costly and difficult to install in a sanctuary. And once they’re in place, there is no option for rearranging. However, chairs save you in cost and functionality. If you’re ever in need of transferring seating from one area to another, chairs are the perfect furniture choice. You also have the ability to move or replace individual seating. If a pew has a damaged portion, the only option is having the entire pew replaced or repaired.

Flexibility

Chairs are simple to re-adjust and accommodate for any change in seating arrangement. This flexibility is ideal for changes in the sanctuary or growth of the church. And if there’s ever a need for storing additional chairs elsewhere in the building, simply stack and stow!

Sanctuary Design Tips

When it comes to strategically arranging your chairs in the sanctuary, here are our recommendations for getting started.

Measuring for New Chairs

For ideal comfort, you want to space your chairs roughly 36” apart from back to back. This ensures optimal legroom for your attendants. Additionally, choose a chair that is at least 18.5” wide. This is especially necessary for replacing pews with chair seating. In the center of the room, leave space for a 5’ wide aisle and create side aisles that are 3’ wide. This will allow proper access for congregation members with disabilities, as well as provide the necessary amount of room for fire regulations.

Seating Arrangement Styles

1. Straight Seating – Chairs are organized in straight rows and should have a maximum of 14-16 chairs per row. There is access to an aisle-way on both ends of each row.

2. Fan Seating – For larger congregations, this arrangement allows distant congregants the ability to still see the pastor. The number of chairs per row is dependent on the size of the sanctuary.

3. Semi-circle Seating – The congregation is arranged in a large semi-circle around a central platform. This 180-degree arrangement provides a sense of engagement and solidarity.

4. Angled Seating – This modern seating arrangement is characterized by chairs that are angled in towards the pulpit. This allows for increased interaction between members during services.

Planning Your Space

The first step to properly calculating your ideal seating capacity is to allot roughly 7.5 square meters per person. Using this figure will help give an estimate to how many congregants your sanctuary can house. However, you must not forget to consult the local by-laws concerning fire safety and building codes before you starting arranging your church’s seating. Then, after both steps are completed, you can choose the layout that best suits your sanctuary.

Also, don’t forget to create a church space that appeals to both young and older congregants. The sanctuary design ideally should be a mix of both traditional and modern.

Always prepare for overcrowding before it happens. If seating is 80 percent full, it’s already too crowded and you risk losing members. At about 60 percent capacity, start planning for how to accommodate new people, perhaps with another service time. Make sure there are always comfortable seats available for visitors who aren’t yet familiar with the church.

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