The best of both worlds: it’s possible with combination seating!

church pew seat combo

Choosing seating for a multi-generational church

SCIENCE BEHIND SEAT ICONIt’s an exciting time for your church! You are part of a newly formed committee tasked with selecting a seating company to furnish the new church sanctuary. Everyone is eager to begin, but the multi-generational team has different ideas about what type of seating should be selected.

Do you want traditional wood pews or contemporary auditorium seating?

How can you lead your church into the dawn of contemporary seating while maintaining the traditional appeal of pews?

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On one hand, it is important to ensure everyone entering the sanctuary knows they are in a welcoming and holy space. Traditional wood pews help create this ambiance.

On the other hand, you might want to provide opportunities for the community to use the sanctuary outside the worship service, which helps create a space for community events. Here, individual seating is critical.

With that in mind, it’s crucial to be observant of how the sanctuary will be used. Will there be weekly or daily worship services, a children’s theatre event, or a concert for the community to enjoy, where tickets might be sold and the seating selection is of paramount importance?

Combination upholstered pew back with flip-up auditorium seat
Combination upholstered pew back with flip-up auditorium seat

Meeting demands while fitting aesthetics

It’s essential to select a seating style that meets the unique demands of the worship facility, as well as satisfying the aesthetic needs of the congregation. One way to bridge the gap between traditional and contemporary seating preferences is a combination pew. A combination pew typically includes the wood or upholstered back of a traditional pew combined with the contemporary design appeal and efficiency of flip-up auditorium seats. The combination of a traditional pew back with auditorium flip-up seat brings together the heritage of the classic wooden pew with the comfort and accessibility of modern design.

Combination seating: modern standards with historic expectations

To meet both modern standards and historic expectations, the flip-up auditorium seat should be encased in the wooden structure of a traditional pew. Constructing the flip-up auditorium seat within the wooden framework provides a safeguard for quality and durability. The pew back is ergonomically contoured, allowing for additional comfort and lumbar support. The ergonomic contour can be achieved whether the back is made of wood or upholstered materials. Each flip-up seat quietly and consistently returns to its raised position, even after years of use. Fewer internal mechanisms within the seat significantly reduce the opportunity for wear-and-tear on the flip-up seat mechanism. The gravity-lift auditorium seat protects the flip-up action of the auditorium seat from mechanical break-down.

Combination wood pew back with flip-up auditorium seat
Combination wood pew back with flip-up auditorium seat

Providing Space

The beauty and simplicity of a combination pew back with flip-up auditorium seat is that it allows worshippers to blend multi-generational congregations. Looking down the aisle of the sanctuary, traditional pew backs and pew end panels are in the line of vision; but, when glancing down the rows, individual flip-up auditorium seats assure the worshipper his or her individual space.

The combination pew with flip-up auditorium seat is designed to bring everyone in the congregation together — from Baby Boomers to Millennials. Each worshipper is entrusted with a sense of belonging and purpose while maintaining adherence to his or her individuality. The combination pew is the perfect solution to providing a traditional sanctuary, where weekly and daily services are held, as well as creating a space for the entire community to enjoy.

“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven,” Matthew 5:15-16 NIV.


Amanda Opdycke is Worship Market Manager at Sauder Worship Seating in Archbold, OH. She holds a BFA, Art History, from Ohio University and has written and contributed to several articles about church seating. Opdycke presented her first class at WFX Reach in San Antonio, TX, recently: “Attentive Comfort: The Ergonomics of Worship.” Its content was based on an article in the “Science Behind the Seat” Series in Church Executive Magazine.

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