Church Furniture

Making Sure Everything In Your Church Has Its Proper Place

Furniture serves an important role in reflecting how people use your communal space. It may be elegant to look at, but the first criteria for church furniture is that it be functional and sturdy. Although most churches have a limited budget, furniture and its placement will encourage parishioners to attend services, gather and get to know one another, participate in meetings, and listen to Sunday school lectures.

While dark furniture or plastic chairs may be easy to clean, bright colors will welcome new members. Consider the purpose of seating furniture before making a purchase.

Do you have events with variable numbers of people such as a choir or youth group? Then you may want to invest in stacking chairs that are easily stored or taken out for events. Stackable chairs are typically made of plastic, steel, aluminum, or some combination thereof.

Are your church activities held in a permanent space that you own, or in a temporary one? For a church that serves more mobile functions such as neighborhood events and street fairs, folding tables, signboards, and chairs may be a good investment. Test them out by having different volunteers -- not just the largest, strongest volunteer -- carry and fold them.

It's also good to consider who will primarily be using the furniture you're purchasing. Will it be for a Sunday School classroom? For your administrative staff? Look to the following suggestions for selecting the proper furniture.

Furniture for children
When it comes to children's furniture, lightness and bright colors are often the primary consideration, which makes hard plastics and rubbers excellent safe choices for kids. Also be sure that all furniture for children can be easily wiped down and sanitized. Children's church furniture ideas include:
  • Baby seats and booster seats
  • Small sizes of chairs and tables for work and play
  • Playground or other childproof area for daycare or play

Furniture for Church Staff
Church staff will need regular office furniture including office desks, filing cabinets, book shelves, and chairs. Remember with chairs that one size does not fit all: a small woman needs a different size chair from a tall man. It's a good idea to have a variety of chairs available for volunteers, and to design your workstations to be adjustable for permanent and temporary staff. Good ergonomics will help prevent work-related injuries and will encourage healthy, productive staff.

Furniture for Church Attendees
Be sure to provide pillows or seats for older people, including access for those with disabilities or in wheelchairs. Ample leg room for taller or disabled attendees is essential. Consider placing seating for those with special needs at the front of your hall. If you have questions about complying with the Americans for Disabilities Act, please see the ADA Homepage:

General Church Furniture
You will want to look at specialized church furniture for particular purposes, such as storing holy books in the pews. But some pieces of furniture can come from any furniture storeĀ?a dais, a folding table, music stands. Just make sure they match reasonably well. Perhaps someone in your parish works for a furniture company; be sure to ask for discounts before you place your orders.

***NOTE: Churches are frequently exempt from sales tax, depending on where you are located.

Items to put on your church furniture list include:
  • Chairs
  • Book cases
  • Art and frames
  • Bulletin boards
  • Free standing signs
  • Tables including some that are easily portable for picnics and street work
  • Kitchen supplies including mugs; different colors for regulars and visitors to be able to identify guests

  • You may also want to consider weather-proofing for outdoor furniture, depending on the climate where you are located. Materials and fabrics that are appropriate for a humid town in the South may not work as well in the desert or high altitudes. If in doubt, see if you can try out a single item or two for a trial period before you have decide upon a whole remodel for your church.

    Pay for better furniture out of your church's permanent funds, or consider a fund raising event where members of your church can sponsor a seating area. Especially if you are a new congregation, you may be able to get donations or hold events to allow participants to sponsor for their own chair. Any event that provides meaningful ways for members of your community to participate and bring expertise will strengthen your community.

    Written by: Diana Wynne