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How to Calculate Your Church Seats



At some point, every church will need to invest in new church chairs. While they are worth every penny, they are still an expense – and a high one at that. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that you buy just the right amount of seating.

Before you start comparing chairs, sit down and calculate how many church seats you will need. Then, you can use your church seating calculations to estimate the cost of your chairs and begin comparing prices.

Here’s how to calculate your church seating needs.

Calculate Seating Capacity

Perhaps you want to use this opportunity to prepare for the future and ensure that you have enough seating for when your congregation grows. One way to do that is to figure out how many chairs you can have when the church is at full capacity.

Here’s how to calculate the seating capacity for a church:

  •         Use the International Building Codes recommendation of 7 square feet per person.

Some experts recommend having 10-20 square feet per person.

How big is your church? How much square footage does it offer? You can use this information to calculate the maximum number of chairs you can safely and legally place in your church.

Divide your square footage by seven, and round the answer down just to be on the safe side. Remember that maximum occupancy doesn’t necessarily mean comfortable occupancy.

Talk to your local fire department to make sure that you are not violating any codes and get advice about your seating capacity calculations.

Consider Using Chairs Instead of Pews

If your church currently has pews, you may want to consider making the switch to chairs instead. Calculating how many pews you will need can be tricky. Manufacturers may say that their pews can hold a certain number of people, but that figure may not be accurate. Some church members may use more or less space than the manufacturer estimates.

Also, keep in mind that people value their personal space. Chairs give them that much-desired space so that they can sit comfortably through the service.

In many cases, pews are not used beyond 80% of their capacity because people don’t want to sit so close to one another. This effectively lowers your capacity by 20%, and you’re essentially paying for seating that your members will never use.

With chairs, however, it’s much easier to calculate how many you’ll need. They also give you more flexibility in your seating arrangements and church layout.

Consider Storage Space

When calculating how many chairs you will need, consider how much storage space you have in your church. While your church may technically have enough space for a certain number of chairs, you may not be able to purchase that many chairs if you don’t have any room to store them.

If you’re a little short on storage space, consider stackable chairs that will use more vertical space.

Also, consider your needs and how you use your chairs. For example, maybe you plan to keep your chairs laid out and have no real need to store them. In this case, storage space may not be a concern. But if you want to move your chairs around for events or just to keep the space clear after service, then your storage capacity will play an important role in your seating calculations.

Take Care About Comfort and Safety

A church is a sanctuary, a place of worship and peace. You want your members to feel safe and comfortable. While it may be tempting to try and fit as many people as possible in your space (growth is the goal of every congregation), it’s better to ensure that your members are comfortable and have enough personal space to enjoy your services.

When members feel at ease and welcomed in your church, they’ll be more likely to return.

The Takeaway

Calculating how many church chairs you will need can be tricky, but it’s important not to skip this important step. Determining the maximum occupancy of your building is a great start, but it’s also important to consider the comfort of your members. There’s a fine balance between the maximum seating you can have and the amount of seating that will make your congregation happy.

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