Determine the maximum seating capacity of your church

Planning for your church’s future

Planning for the future of your church is both vital and challenging. Without a plan, a church won’t grow nor will it stay healthy. One big question to ask is, “How many seats in a church is ideal for our sanctuary?”. Obviously the answer is quite different with a small church seating layout than a church of 2000 or more.

If your church is still outfitted with traditional church pews and you’re wondering how replacing them with pew chairs might affect your available seating capacity, you’re not alone. The number one reason churches in the last ten years have been replacing the old, wooden benches is to increase the amount of seating space they have in their sanctuary.

Calculate seating capacity

To determine your church’s maximum seating church capacity, many variables come into play. Fire regulations in your area, how wide the aisles have to be, how far apart reach row needs to be, and so forth are things to consider for optimal seating church capacity.

Southland Church - Steinbach, MB

It is recommended you research local fire bylaws and discuss with an architect or designer before starting your church seating layout. Should you require church chair dimensions, most manufacturers will supply a digital file (usually the AutoCAD file will give the exact church pew seating dimensions) that architects and designers can use to virtually insert chairs into a space.

Consider using chairs instead of pews

In the strictest sense, you can get more people into your sanctuary with church pews than rows of chairs. The distance between each row of pews can be much narrower than what you can comfortably do with a row of chairs. That means a sanctuary with pews can potentially have more seats in a church than pew chairs.

church chairs

But ask yourself: is the goal to squeeze as many people as you can into a space ultimately designed to optimize the worship experience? Finding the maximum number of people you can squeeze into your space isn’t the only consideration when strategizing church seating layout. When you consider the value of personal space, seating comfort, and overall flexibility, you may find that pew chairs are far superior to pews in the following ways:

Consider storage space

There is a much higher level of flexibility with the utilization of church chairs that you cannot get out of older pews. The pew chair model allows for seamless seating, a feature where individual chairs can be interconnected with each other to create a pew-like effect. At any time, they can be disconnected and used as individual chairs that can be moved independently of one another. They can be stacked six to eight chairs high allowing for ideal storage and increasing floor space.

Take care about comfort and safety

Cramming people in shoulder to shoulder with no consideration for personal space and overall comfort is not the way to go. People by far and large prefer their personal space, and chairs with individual seats, backs, and in certain cases, arms, allow people to experience that boundary of comfort they seek. Each chair provides someone with a personal seating space, and when those chairs add high-quality foam and soft backing, they maximize the pleasure that most visitors and members desire when coming to church on a Sunday morning or attending a wedding on a Saturday afternoon.

While knowing your sanctuary’s seating capacity is important in planning your seating needs, make sure you are focused more on the quality of the overall worship experience and less on how many people you can squeeze into that space. The goal should always be to provide the optimal worship experience, where church capacity is tempered with comfort, flexibility, and the need for personal space.

In some cases, to provide a safe worship experience, someone installs special security cameras in the sanctuary to avoid overcrowding and even misbehavior, while also providing options for a centralized video display if needed. So, you can also buy a PTZ camera for churches to monitor the service and guests, ensuring a great worship experience. While cameras are in many cases seen as intrusive, recent church shootings have made the use of cameras a part of modern day worship. For some churches, the use of specialized camera systems for their congregation gives them the chance to stream their sermons live over the internet.