Why Churches Should Consider Theater Seating over Traditional Pews

In a belief system as ancient as those Abrahamic faiths, there are naturally centuries upon centuries of traditional built into the style and layout of worship spaces. In fact, the traditional layout of sanctuaries, both auditorium-style and basilica-style, predate the religion itself! These historic altar-and-pew sanctuary setups are integral to the identity and spirit of many churches. 

So, when planning a facelift to the interior of a 200-year-old sanctuary, how do you bring your space into the 21st century without sloughing off all those generations of tradition? The answer to this dilemma is to replace your old pew or chair setup with theater-style seating. Not only is it a minimally-invasive “renovation,” but installing theater seating in your church can make a huge impact on the appearance of your Sunday gathering space, as well as make your congregation more comfortable.

Modular Theater Seating Chairs Lend to Versatile Layouts

One thing theater chairs can do that pews simply can’t is to be attached and detached from each other, seat by seat. This gives you the option of changing the seating layout in your church. For instance, if you need to move rows of seating around for a passion play, visiting performers, or activities during summer Bible camp.

Pews also aren’t exactly ADA friendly. With wall-hugging, modular theater-style chairs in your sanctuary, you can create wider rows, easier access, and/or leave spaces between chairs in the front row so congregants who aren’t able to walk have no trouble getting in and out of service.

The Budget for Church Theater Seating is Similar to Replacing Pews

Nobody is going to argue that pews are beautiful. Long, elegant, high-backed benches crafted of solid wood – they’re a part of the visual identity of a church for a reason. But when you’re weighing the cost of replacing the seating in your sanctuary, you’ll quickly notice that foregoing the comfort of theater recliners with lumbar support, powered headrests and built-in cup holders doesn’t save you much money at all. 

The other cost of pews vs auditorium-style seating is the time it takes to install them and maintenance them. Church theater seating is simple to install, simple to move around, and low-maintenance. You can have a few trustees work on it over a weekend and voila! – new sanctuary. But pews, which need to be cleaned, polished, conditioned, and repaired often, are also a serious installation process. You’ll likely need to hire professionals to do it. 

So, besides tradition, why would we sacrifice that level of convenience and comfort if pews require a budget comparable to luxury theater seating?

Theater-Style Seating Keeping Your Congregants Comfortable

Even the most devout members of your church aren’t comfortable in pews – not that they’d ever say anything. It’s kind of an unspoken, shared truth that sitting through a homily or a mass is not fun, no matter how compelling the preacher or the subject. Not to mention that we’re not so young anymore; wood doesn’t have any support or any give. Not cool for spines.

Switching to theater-style church seating not only keeps your current congregation comfy through even the longest sermons, but when you have visitors and new potential congregants, they’re more likely to stay in a place that they can tell is focused on their worship experience. The tangible cues of updated seating in your sanctuary are just as important as the visual ones. 

Sanctuaries Aren’t the Only Rooms for New Theater Seating

Want to update other gathering spaces in your church in addition? Church auditorium seating isn’t just for the sanctuary. Think about it – 

Your youth room is likely more of a casual hangout space for the teens to gather and discuss lessons or watch movies. A theater-style sectional, or a couple multimedia couches, would be a serious upgrade to folded chairs and those sofas left over from the rummage sale 4 years ago. It makes youth more likely to come to Bible class, bring new friends, and it makes them feel valued by the elders in the church – it signals the older generations are invested in the younger ones.

Lecture rooms for adult Bible studies are often set up in a classroom layout anyway. Why not switch out folding chairs or those weird, narrow chairs that snap together in rows, for modular theater chairs designed for church spaces. Make that informal room a real mini-lecture hall; keep everyone engaged while keeping everyone comfortable, too. Change the seating layout when you need to. Elevate back rows of the seating. It’s a great way to update and elevate rooms that sometimes get forgotten, since they aren’t public spaces in the church.

Valencia’s Custom Theater Seating for Churches

Our options for church theater seating are virtually endless when you consider possible layouts, different upholsteries, colors, and the designs of different chair models. Our media room furniture is tailored to your needs and vision, and they’re built in solid wood and steel, for a long life and smooth reclining even in the heavy use that church seating sees

Leather colors like white or grey theater seats reflect the colored lights of stained glass all over the sanctuary and bring it alive, completely making over a sanctuary while highlighting the beautiful and historic features of the building. Wall-hugger theater seating allows room for more seats, and lends versatility to areas for people who need a little extra help moving around. Lumbar support and ergonomic reclining support people’s spines and joints during seated services. Valencia’s wide array of upholstery options – from full-grain leather to microfiber fabric theater seating, our options for different budgets for auditorium-style seating, our selection of different models, styles and layouts, as well as theater seating accessories and riser platforms, mean that no matter the space or the need, the Valencia theater seating you design for your church will help move the building (and your congregation) into the future while honoring and preserving the tradition of its spaces.