The Wall Street Journal gets to the bottom of the controversy that often ensues when churches swap pews for chairs in this pun-filled piece:
Pews have been part of the Western world’s religious landscape for centuries, but now a growing number of churches in the U.S. and U.K. are opting for chairs, sometimes chairs equipped with kneelers.
At bottom: churches want to trim remodeling costs, maximize space flexibility with stackable seating, or create a more approachable atmosphere to draw in unchurched young people.
“Lots of people shy away from a formal church setting. It makes them very nervous,” says the Rev. Samuel LaCombe , of the Windham church, who is planning to move the new chairs aside to use the sanctuary for community suppers. “Now, what’s so scary about beans and hot dogs and yeast rolls? Not much.”
The dispute is the latest sticking point between traditionalists and those who believe old-guard churches have to modernize to broaden their appeal. Church Executive Magazine last year called it “Chairs vs. Pews.” A blog on Religious Product News dubbed it “the great pew debate.”
“I’ve had a couple of cases where it got ugly,” says Paul Lodholz , a principal with Ziegler Cooper Architects, a Houston church-design company.
What are your thoughts on pews versus chairs?