Church chairs today are designed with two main factors in mind, and that is maximizing member comfort as well as providing a lightweight product that is versatile. Given that many smaller churches are mobile and do not have a permanent place of worship, the need for flexible seating options is a must. Even before the advent of the mobile church and the chairs that now accompany them, there have been many changes in the structure and layout of church chairs.
From the Floor to the Pew
It was not until the late 17th century that most churches incorporated seating into their buildings. The earliest places of worship were constructed from a simple, architectural theme. Instead of sitting, the congregation would stand for the duration of the sermon, although certain individuals like the elderly and disabled could kneel against the wall or take a seat on stone benches that adorned the exterior walls.
There was emphasis placed on listening to sermons after the Protestant Reformation occurred, and this in effect led to the creation of the first recognizable seating arrangements. Bench seating was initially set on multiple levels, and one could perhaps ascertain that this reflected the social ranking of individuals at the time. Pews did not become a prominent feature until the early 18th century, though in reality it took a full century later for builders to install the grand pews that were made to seat rows of people.
The Economics of Church Seating
Church pews were by no means affordable; few organizations could purchase high quality products, and thus resorted to cheaper methods of production such as the use of long wooden planks. And even these cost a hefty amount. The Industrial Revolution put an end to this problem, and is widely considered the beginning of modern church chairs.
The vast majority of contemporary churches opt for wooden folding chairs, since they come in many different fabrics and designs in addition to being mobile and comfortable to sit on. While there is no doubting the beauty of old world pews, their production has virtually ceased for these reasons.