Church Chairs and a New Trend in Older Buildings


As younger congregations discover the power of architecture in making a spiritual connection to the past they also discover the beauty of church chair seating designed to accentuate the ambiance of traditional spaces of worship.

Christianity Today recently reported that old mainline and Catholic sanctuaries are finding new life as evangelical churches up-cyle and renovate them for modern use.[1] Churches such as Mars Hill inSeattle,OasisChurch inLos Angeles, City ofGrace inPhoenix, andSojournCommunityChurch inLouisville,Kentucky reflect a shift in how churches think about worship space. Making a connection with old church buildings and their design and vintage lighting connects to a time when life wasn’t broken for many 20-somethings according to the article.

The trend is particularly powerful in urban settings where the church seeks to reestablish itself as an authentic influence to communities that mirror this reclamation of older buildings and neighborhoods.

A focus on authenticity and intimacy in relationships drive the use of space designed for worship. Quality and flexible furnishings and seating also help. Made-to-order church seating offers a rich use of texture and color that profoundly complements the older church building.  Upholstered church seating goes a long way toward accenting the warmth of wood and warming the coolness of stone materials often used in older buildings.

Younger congregations stepping into older buildings often face challenging upgrades and maintenance costs.  When it comes to seating this is no different. The price of upgrading existing pews is double that of purchasing build-to-order church chairs. We often work with younger congregations that want to keep the pews but can neither afford their refurbishing nor tolerate the hard bench like sit.

There are options.  Refurbish the pew ends only then use them as pew ends to a row of church chairs. Or, refurbish a few pews to serve as accents to the ambiance of the sanctuary and select fabrics and frame colors for your church chairs that support the kind of space design the congregation desires.

Build-to-order chairs also provide another benefit – they are a renewable resource. Congregations moving into older buildings are also sensitive to their care of the planet and its resources. It’s good to know that build-to-order church chairs provide a green alternative to many other traditional or import seating options. It’s even better to know that congregations make these considerations as part of an authentic and holistic approach to ministry.


Dr. Ray Wheeler is the Director of Global church sales for Bertolini Inc and an adjunct instructor in cross-cultural  leadership, church growth and ethics at Bethesda University California in Anaheim, California and Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California.