Church Seating Arrangements for the Holidays

Oct 3rd 2022

Does the upcoming holiday season make you excited but also make you break into a sweat? Churches have a lot on their plates when the holidays roll around. It’s a time to be thrilled to celebrate a thriving ministry, but it also requires a ton of planning.

You’ve got plenty of great ideas for church events, nativity plays, church dinners, youth service projects, and so much more! There’s excitement in the air when everyone talks about yearly traditions and what they want to add to programming for this upcoming season.

But one thing always concerns you: where will you put all the people? The holidays always bring a flood of newcomers and congregation members who don’t regularly attend. It’s a crucial opportunity to show off how wonderful your church is, bring in new congregation members, and help past congregation members recommit to coming more often.

So, of course, you’ve got seating on your mind. The sanctuary can only hold so many people. If you’re working with a lovely, historic (and small) church, you’re even tighter on space. But before you start worrying too much, read on to get some great ideas for how to seat during the holidays. We’ve put together some ways for you to make use of your space while ensuring everyone is comfortable.

Flexible is Effective

If you’re still using pews for seating in the sanctuary, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Wood pews are classic and lovely, but completely impractical. When you’re bursting at the seams (which is a great problem to have), you want to focus on flexible seating.

What does that mean? It means that you choose church chairs that can easily be rearranged. By making your church spaces multi-purpose you increase their usefulness and ultimately your return on investment. When rooms are labeled and reserved for one specific use, it becomes difficult to find space for all your activities. By changing your mindset to multi-purpose, you immediately increase your church space without having to do costly renovations!

What does that look like?

You’ll need to go room-by-room throughout the church to determine if each room and space is being used to its maximum potential. If a certain room has storage issues, consider having new storage solutions built and installed. Make sure that you get cabinets and single-use specific furnishings off the floor. Install cabinets on the wall that can hold items to be stored, keeping them out of sight and the room uncluttered.

Now you’ve got a whole room that can be used for many events and activities!

Arranging the Sanctuary

As the holidays grow closer, you’ll have to strategically plan your seating in the sanctuary. If you’ve replaced church pews with chairs, you won’t have a problem making it all work. Buy high-quality chairs that are comfortable, but also stackable and economical when it comes to space.

Small Spaces

Follow the shape of the room. If you’re in a long, skinny rectangular room, your options will be more limited than if you’re in a large room with width to work with. For the rooms that are already cramped, focus on how closely you can place the rows while still allowing your congregants to move freely.

On a regular Sunday, you can be generous with space, placing rows about 40 inches apart. This gives people plenty of room to walk between rows. You can move that even tighter to about 38 inches apart for more crowded days. On your most well-attended Sundays, consider placing rows 36 inches apart to maximize space. Just make sure you leave enough room in the aisles for emergency exits and disability access.

If you can take those classic straight rows and angle them at all, give it a try. It might not work for your small space, but you might also be surprised at how well angling or circling up rows can help make the space more efficient.

Large Spaces

You’ll have more room to play with arrangement styles if you’ve got a large sanctuary. Here are a few styles to consider that might work to give you more seats for the holidays.

  • Angled Rows - This is a great alternative to the classic straight row arrangement. By putting rows at an angle, congregants are brought closer to the speaker at the front of the room. It also takes advantage of the shape of the room, using the overall space more efficiently. If you structure this right, you will be able to fit more chairs into the space without sacrificing comfort.
  • Fan Rows - This takes angled rows and turns them into an even more efficient arrangement. Organize rows into fans to increase visibility of the pulpit and allow the entire congregation to hear the sermon with ease.
  • Semi-circle Rows - By bringing everyone around the stage, you’ll be putting them closer to the action. You’ll also utilize the space in the room, allowing for more seats to be added to the audience. Circling up the rows will make everyone in the audience feel more interactive too since they will now be looking at each other in addition to the presentation up front.

The holiday season is a wonderful time to build community, attract new congregation members, and work on further growth for your thriving ministry. Don’t let seating scare you. Try out some new arrangements, push rows just a little bit closer, and help congregants break out of their shells to interact. New arrangements can help members get to know each other better without sacrificing comfort.

If you’ve done everything you can do to fit more seats into the sanctuary and you’re still bursting at the seams, consider creating a second Sunday service at least during the holiday season. Just make sure to set up a warm coffee meet and greet in between services so congregants can still socialize and get to know each other.

If you’re ready to buy the best church chairs on the market at affordable prices, look no further than Classroom Essentials Online. We’ve got an array of chair options to fit your needs and would love to help you choose a selection to fit your church. You can find us online at and by calling (866) 404-7671.