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21st Century Churches: 5 Ways to Arrange Your Church Sanctuary

As you stand in the doorway of your new church sanctuary, you contemplate the worship space. With your church’s recent redesign, your committee is in charge of rolling out the process. Fellowship is the key goal and you’re determined to find the best strategies for bringing new community members in the church doors and into the fold.

The church has been doing all the right things and the growth in members shows that. At long last, your church is thriving. With all the growth has come a need to re-strategize and restructure how the church operates. These changes are exciting and you’re thrilled to be part of this pivotal moment in the church’s history.

But you’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about how to set up the church sanctuary. Sure, the easy answer is to just create basic rows of pews or chairs and then move on to the next challenge. You really care about how your congregants experience Sunday services and how they build community with each other, though. And so you are digging deep into sanctuary design, looking for the perfect solution for your church community.

The traditional church pew isn’t right for your church since you need to buy flexible furniture to maximize space (plus, pews are just plain uncomfortable). Sunday service seating arrangements will need to make way for youth meetings and congregant celebrations. So you’ve decided to purchase church chairs. But how will you fit them into the room to maximize space and also build the church community?

First, you’ll need to assess the “personality” and goals of your individual congregation. Different churches cater to differing audiences and each one has specific needs. If your goal is to focus on fellowshipping millennials, you’ll want to think about space design in a different way than if you’re serving a congregation made up of mostly elderly people. Each way of arranging church chairs will offer a different kind of “flow” to the space.

Second, you’ll have to consider the space you’re working with. Sometimes sanctuaries are small and don’t offer a lot of flexibility. Other sanctuaries are large and overwhelming, so you’ll have to try out a few different arrangement ideas to figure out which one makes the space feel the most comfortable and inviting.

Here are five different modern options for arranging your church sanctuary. Give each one some thought and go with the design that makes the most sense for your church and congregation. Also, don’t forget to check out our infographic on the best way to design the perfect space for worship!

1. Classic Straight Rows

Straight Rows Of Church Chairs
Though it may not seem very imaginative, sometimes traditional straight rows of chairs are the best idea for your space. It mimics the style of pews, which is great for churches that are transitioning to chairs. Not all congregation members will be comfortable with the transition from pews to chairs, so by offering a similar arrangement (at least at first), you’ll ease their adaptation to the new chairs.

In some smaller churches with long rectangular sanctuaries, it can be hard to do anything other than straight rows. Also, if you’re new to church chairs or the building, you can always start with straight rows and then rearrange when it feels like it’s the right time. That’s the best part about church chairs – they’re flexible and adaptable to your needs!

2. Angled Rows

Church Chairs Angled Rows

This style of seating is a remix of the straight rows and offers several benefits. It uses the space more efficiently, as it takes advantage of all angles in the room. It also brings congregants around the stage or pulpit, making it easier to see and hear the pastor. This style is also great for larger congregations since it brings people closer to all the action. In straight rows, it can be quite difficult to see or hear from the very back of a large room.

This arrangement also generally works with acoustics, so your congregation will be able to both hear the speaker and listen to a choir or band equally well. This style provides a little more audience interaction than straight rows do, as congregants can start to see each other’s faces across the room.

3. Fan Rows

Fan Shape Church Chair Layout

Image provided by Parker Architects Inc.

This arrangement works really well with square-shaped rooms, but not as well with long rectangular rooms. By forming rows into a fan shape, you maximize the closeness of the audience members. Now, they can easily see and hear everything that is going on at the front of the room.

This doesn’t always use space most efficiently, however, depending on how many seats will be needed and how you place them on the floor. The primary benefit of the fan style of seating is to make sure audience members in the back row are as close to the presentation as possible.

4. Semi-Circle Rows

Semi Circle Church Chair Layout

Image provided by

Looking for a more intimate experience for your congregation? Perhaps you’ve been reading up on innovative worship styles that bring congregants together in a community-centered space. For most of the history of the church, members would meet together in homes, sitting around a table or in circles to discuss and pray. Maybe you’d like to replicate that experience in your own church at a larger scale.

The pastor stands at the center with the circular rows surrounding the platform area. Audience members can see one another easily, as they are nearly all facing each other. Instead of simply slinking in the back to quietly hide on the last row during a sermon, this style of worship encourages interaction and spiritual intimacy. It also fosters a feeling of community that many churches are finding important to their worship style.

5. Complete Circle Rows

Circular Church Chair Layout

This seating arrangement takes chairs and places them into rows all the way around a center platform or speaking area. The pastor stands in the middle, turning to speak to congregants on all sides. Some churches are more interactive, encouraging members to speak to one another and actively participate in the church services. This seating arrangement would be excellent to foster this kind of worship style and it would be especially good for small churches.

If your church service features a band, choir, or another kind of presentation that requires a stage, this seating arrangement wouldn’t probably work for you. It is great, however, for other kinds of meetings and makes sense for churches with simple presentations.

Every church is different and each congregation has varying requirements. Your committee knows the church community the best and can decide which option will be the right fit for the church’s needs. Don’t get overwhelmed by the options. The best part about church chairs is that they can be arranged, then rearranged, and then rearranged yet again! Try one way that you think will feel the most comfortable for congregants, then tweak and refine the seating arrangement as time shows you what needs to change.

When you’re ready to invest in quality church chairs at incredible prices, in all the colors and fabric choices you could ever need, turn to Advantage Church Chairs. We offer friendly customer service and would be honored to help you find the right chair for your unique church needs. You can find us online at and by giving us a call at (855) 294-0532.


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