Do you realize how uncomfortable your wooden church pews are? I don’t care how much padding you added to them, because it’s never enough. They’re too narrow, too hard, the backs are terribly uncomfortable, and there’s not enough leg room. Probably. Maybe. I’m generalizing.
You don’t notice, because you’re used to your pews. Discomfort is the norm. But not so for me.
The past two weeks, I’ve been in churches with wooden pews. I find myself constantly squirming, trying to get comfortable. I continually adjust, twisting this way and that, crossing my legs one way and then the other, never fully satisfying (for long) the complaints of my back and tailbone.
The lack of leg room can be pitiful, too, especially as you bump knees and shins on protruding hymnal racks. It’s almost as bad a flying coach, except that pews don’t recline and there’s no neck support, no contours, no pillows, no armrests…. Come to think of it, it’s a lot worse than flying coach.
I say this reluctantly, because I fully acknowledge the validity of all of these statements:
- It’s unspiritual to be comfortable during worship.
- The churches in Acts had pews.
- A church with pews is more worshipful than a church without.
- The more ornate the wood, the more sacred the sanctuary.
- The Holy Spirit is far more present in churches with pews.
- If Jesus could hang on a cross for me, how can I complain about an hour sitting in a wooden pew?
We’re spoiled at Anchor. When Anchor went through its “restart” in 1998, the wooden pews were yanked from the floor and replaced with green, heavily-padded chairs (like the one above). I can sit in them for hours without discomfort, whether sitting up straight or in my usual slouch. The cushioned seat is very wide, thereby accommodating persons who are amply endowed on the backside. We shallow, carnal churchgoers can fully concentrate on the sermon without once thinking about our aching backs or tailbones.
So when I go to a church with pews, I really struggle. I just can’t get comfortable.
And that’s probably how your church’s visitors feel. They check out your service, and the lasting impression is, “Those pews really suck.”