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» Ship of Fools   » Special interest discussion   » Ecclesiantics   » What puts you off from setting foot inside a church? (Page 2)

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Source: (consider it) Thread: What puts you off from setting foot inside a church?
Gamaliel
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# 812

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I don't think anyone is arguing that church buildings should be open 24/7.

But many village parish churches here are, partly because of their historic value in some instances. We have some of the best mediaeval ecclesial architecture in Europe.

That doesn't necessarily apply in cities or suburban areas, of course.

On the issue of consecrated buildings, I've struggled with that but there's a balance, I think. Of course we can worship anywhere but complaining about some people consecrating their meeting places is a bit like complaining that we only celebrate our birthdays on our birthdays and not all year round or saying that because Christians tend to meet for worship on Sundays - unless they are Adventists - they are saying that God should not be worshipped on other days.

Is there anything snobbish about eating our breakfast at breakfast time, or tea at tea time?

Sure, there can be an element of ecclesial sniffiness, but one could argue that it cuts both ways - not visiting a service where the participants hold to a different view of communion to ourselves could be construed as a form of snobbery in the opposite direction.

There's snobbery and there's inverted snobbery. Both are to be avoided as far as possible ... And we can all be culpable of one or the other.

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Gamaliel
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Sorry, what I meant to type was that many rural parish churches are open during the day, not that they are open 24/7

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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mark_in_manchester

not waving, but...
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quote:
Every ex-anglo-catholic church still feels like a defeat.
That was a moving post. I feel the same about driving past the hundreds of closed chapels in the places we visit on holidays in North Wales.

My inclination is, I think, to idealise their congregational life and grieve for the fact it is dead. Reading Caradoc Evans has been something of a corrective to this romanticism, but still...I don't know.

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(so good, I wanted to see it after my posts and not only after those of shipmate JBohn from whom I stole it)

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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:

2) does the church have pews? If so, then I'm out of there. Uncomfortable, inflexible, anachronistic

I have the opposite opinion. I have small children. Pews are much more flexible than chairs. Chairs are exactly one-size-fits all: it doesn't matter what size your nether regions are: you get one chair. So the kids are either on your lap, or in the next chair, but can't be snuggled close. Plus pews provide a nice flat surface for driving toy cars up and down, lying down, and many of the other things that my small children have done in church.

So I completely disagree that they are an indicator of an "inability to adapt". There are some of those, of course - but there are some pretty dogmatic and inflexible chair churches, too (it's just a slightly different dogma). Perhaps one dog sits more comfortably with you than the other.

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Pigwidgeon

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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
I have the opposite opinion. I have small children. Pews are much more flexible than chairs. Chairs are exactly one-size-fits all: it doesn't matter what size your nether regions are: you get one chair. So the kids are either on your lap, or in the next chair, but can't be snuggled close. Plus pews provide a nice flat surface for driving toy cars up and down, lying down, and many of the other things that my small children have done in church.

So I completely disagree that they are an indicator of an "inability to adapt". There are some of those, of course - but there are some pretty dogmatic and inflexible chair churches, too (it's just a slightly different dogma). Perhaps one dog sits more comfortably with you than the other.

Thank you, Leorning Cniht. You stated my thoughts, but in a much better way than I could have.

[Overused]

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Gamaliel
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I think k the issue with redundant chapel buildings in Wales, West Yorkshire or other former strongholds of non-conformity is the same as that of the vast Anglo-Catholic barns in many cities ... Many of them were built in hope and expectation and were never as full as popular legend suggests.

Nevertheless ...

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Baptist Trainfan
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Well, that was very much Michael Gill's take in "The Myth of the Empty Church" - he felt there was a great deal of competition and pride among the chapels and that there was far too much capacity.

I once spoke to him and he produced the figures for the church I was then serving, from 1904 (often regarded as the high point of church going). In a chapel that could seat 800, there were just over 400 people present. Yet my older members asserted that, 20 or 30 years later, it was "packed" - simply not true!

The church was replaced by a smaller one in the 70s.

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Baptist Trainfan
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Sorry, it was Robin Gill.
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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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Back to the OP...

Worship bands. I don't object to the musical style per se - it's been pointed out that given my predilection for folk rock I shouldn't have an issue with it. I don't. It's just that the material nearly all comes from a stable with which I do have an issue. That and the terribly emotionally intense delivery, the hands in the air and the buzz which makes me decidedly uncomfortable.

Sermons over 15 minutes. Life's short enough anyway. I've yet to come away from a long sermon with anything worth the time it took.

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Brenda Clough
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Remarks on another SoF thread remind me of other deal-breakers:
Prosperity Gospel. The first whiff and I'm out.
Hate, even veiled. I can spot euphemisms excellently well, thanks.
Nutty sexuality. I'm sorry, but boys should have friends who are girls and vice versa. A rigid segregation of the genders is not healthy.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Baptist Trainfan
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I don't get that last bit. Are you saying that there are churches (outside Africa where I know it happens) which say that men sit one side of the aisle and ladies on the other? Or that each must have their own "class" and never meet socially? (Although I suspect you may be saying something else).
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Gamaliel
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Segregation of the sexes inside church buildings during services happens in a surprising range of churches - I've seen it in Gypsy Pentecostal churches in Spain for instance and it's common in the Middle East and in some Orthodox jurisdictions - but that's far from universal.

I've heard from conservative evangelicals that's gender segregation on either side of an aisle is common in conservative evangelical churches across mainland Europe - or at least it was back in the 1990s.

I suspect Brenda Clough isn't referring to seating (or standing) arrangements so much as a particular sub-culture within elements of US evangelicalism. That wouldn't surprise me in the least.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Angloid
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Pews – yes I can see they have certain advantages. But they imprison the congregation in fixed rows and make moving around difficult. If worship is simply attending a performance and sitting passively while the professionals do and say certain things, they make sense. But if it is about the Body of Christ coming together to hear the Word, to renew their Baptism, to celebrate the Eucharist, not to be able easily to move to appropriate places for these things, or to stand and watch while 'special people' move about, impoverishes the worship of the community.

In the same way, there is an advantage in a building that appears too big... a small congregation can fill a large church with movement and activity. Of course in our climate you have the problem of heating, so compromise is necessary... though they seemed to manage in the Middle Ages.

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Felafool
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Moo wrote
quote:
I have problems standing for long periods without some support. If there is a pew behind me, I can press the backs of my legs against it, and this enables me to stand. If I press the backs of my legs against a chair, it moves.
Surely the answer to your problem is not pews, but to avoid standing for long periods without support. If I'm in a church where such behaviour is mandatory, I will be out of the door before you can say 'you may be seated'!

'Feel free to sit or stand' is a good place to be.

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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by Angloid:
Pews – yes I can see they have certain advantages. But they imprison the congregation in fixed rows and make moving around difficult. If worship is simply attending a performance and sitting passively while the professionals do and say certain things, they make sense. But if it is about the Body of Christ coming together to hear the Word, to renew their Baptism, to celebrate the Eucharist, not to be able easily to move to appropriate places for these things, or to stand and watch while 'special people' move about, impoverishes the worship of the community.


Heheheh. Lutheran worship (at least in my denom) is about as aerobic as you're going to get, and pretty much every congregation I've been in has had pews. Which is probably a Very Good Thing as with all the up and down and up and down and out and in and out, we'd probably knock over chairs.

I too can't stand for very long, probably due to beginning POTS. Nobody cares if I stay seated.

(And re sitting in gendered spaces-- Vietnamese churches have had this habit for yonks, though it's fairly loose and nobody looks at you skunk-eyed if you sit in the "wrong" place. I think the purpose is to facilitate chitchat. Seriously. It isn't imposed from above, it's more a case of "Go away, guys, we have things to talk about." The guys more or less recede to their own piece of territory where I assume they discuss Manly Things™.) The sexes mingle freely after and before church.

[ 18. November 2016, 13:07: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

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Felafool
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# 270

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Not wishing to make this a particular rant about pews, I am serious about not wishing to have a long term relationship with a church with pews.

To expand on my reasons:

1) Inflexibility: Anything other than 'you sit there and we'll do all the work' is very difficult to put into practice with fixed seating of any sort, not just pews.
Layout in itself spells out a certain theology of worship (so presence/position of an altar/pulpit/choir/musical instrument etc gives an idea of the relative importance of these) Altar rails in CofE country churches were installed originally to keep the animals back...why do we still have them?
Layout also helps or hinders fellowship and interaction, which in turn hinders communication and engagement, which hinders mission.

As one of my manifestions in life has been as a teacher/tutor/trainer, I have learnt which layouts facilitate or hinder certain activities.

Personally I like to see who else is involved in the shared experience, not just the backs of heads of those in front. I also like to think we all have a contribution to make, if given the opportunity.

2) Anachronistic. Whether pews remain out of heritage requirements, budget restraints, or just tradition, to me they indicate an inability or unwillingness to engage with current culture, neither of which should be a characteristic of a church on a mission.

3) Comfort. How many of us would watch a good movie in a cinema with pews? Or watch TV at home from a pew? I rest my case.

I told you I was shallow

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I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty - I ordered a cheeseburger.

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Felafool
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Angloid said it better than my crossposting

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Felafool
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# 270

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Leorning Cniht wrote

quote:
So I completely disagree that they are an indicator of an "inability to adapt". There are some of those, of course - but there are some pretty dogmatic and inflexible chair churches, too (it's just a slightly different dogma). Perhaps one dog sits more comfortably with you than the other.
Good point, well made - the one good thing about pews that has been put forward. If that was suggested as a convincing reason to keep pews, then I might be sympathetic. It's just that there are other ways to drive a toy racing car in church and stay close to Mum/Dad.

But then again, do you/will you take your children to cinemas and ask for a pew?

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I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty - I ordered a cheeseburger.

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Baptist Trainfan
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# 15128

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quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:
But then again, do you/will you take your children to cinemas and ask for a pew?

Well, you might ...
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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:
3) Comfort. How many of us would watch a good movie in a cinema with pews? Or watch TV at home from a pew? I rest my case.

Not a particularly persuasive argument, unless you are advocating for sofas (from which I usually watch TV), recliners, or theater chairs in churches. Would you watch TV or a movie seated in one of these chairs? Or this?

Not all pews are created equal, nor are all chairs created equal. I have endured some torturesome pews, as well as pews that I am sure must have been designed for people shorter than 5'6". (I'm 6'3".) I have also endured some torturesome church chairs. On the whole, I find pews tend to be more comfortable than chairs because (like on a sofa), I'm able to adjust occasionally to stay comfortable. I'm also able, when I want to, to keep some space between me and those on either side of me. Few chairs offer either ability.

I'm completely sympathetic with the flexibility for placement and movement that chairs allow. Pews admittedly allow for little flexibility of placement. But no one said that pews must be arranged in ordered rows, front to back. With a little creativity of arrangement and with adequate space between them, they can certainly allow for movement and for seeing more than just the backs of others' heads. For example this.

Personally, I think that a mix of pews and chairs can often be the best way to go.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Felafool
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In reply to
quote:
quote:Originally posted by Felafool: But then again, do you/will you take your children to cinemas and ask for a pew?

BaptistTrainFan wrote
Well, you might ...

[Killing me]

That sums it up...inflexible,unadaptable, uncomfortable. I certainly don't want to sit in the corner by the wall.

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I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty - I ordered a cheeseburger.

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Baptist Trainfan
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By the way, I did once go to a small church in Birmingham which had been thriftily fitted out with reclaimed cinema seats. Not only were they too low, but it was a real pain having to push the tip-up seats back down after standing for each hymn!
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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick Tamen:
But no one said that pews must be arranged in ordered rows, front to back. With a little creativity of arrangement and with adequate space between them, they can certainly allow for movement and for seeing more than just the backs of others' heads.

Our pews are immoveably fixed, and uncomfortable. But I recently went to a church, built in the 1970s, which had moveable pews - they could be placed in all sorts of arrangement, not necessarily straight lines. This sort of thing.

(This does remind me of one well-known London Vicar who controversially removed some pews from his church. On being interviewed for his next position he was asked, "Do you believe in moving pews?" and immediately replied, "I don't know, I've never seen any!" He got the job).

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Felafool
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It's interesting that my anathema against pews has stirred up so many responses. [Smile]

There don't seem to be similar defences raised against other dislikes such as terminology, glossolalia, worship leaders with beards and jeans etc.

Guess it proves how shallow I am for eschewing pews

I take the points about comfort (or lack of) with modern chairs, and the matter of seating arrangements for a group of people is always a compromise between budget, availability, space, and functionality.

I like the idea of movable pews, particularly if they can be moved over a cliff edge.

All I'm saying is that if someone like me (who is more than willing to worship and fellowship in a wide variety of formats with differing theologies up and down the candle/chandelier) is put off by pews, what about those who the church is trying to reach, whose first impressions may be the difference between giving it a try or walking away?

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I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty - I ordered a cheeseburger.

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andras
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
I toured a church once in the suburbs. The rector said that they used to keep the doors unlocked all the time. Then one night a drunk guy came in with a rifle. Luckily the windows didn't take a bullet, but the cross over the altar still has some slugs in it -- you can see them. They locked the doors, after that.

Reminded me of an incident in the Don Camillo books where the wooden crucified Christ takes a bullet that was meant for the priest.

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Evangeline
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quote:
Originally posted by Leorning Cniht:
quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:

2) does the church have pews? If so, then I'm out of there. Uncomfortable, inflexible, anachronistic

I have the opposite opinion. I have small children. Pews are much more flexible than chairs. Chairs are exactly one-size-fits all: it doesn't matter what size your nether regions are: you get one chair. So the kids are either on your lap, or in the next chair, but can't be snuggled close. Plus pews provide a nice flat surface for driving toy cars up and down, lying down, and many of the other things that my small children have done in church.

So I completely disagree that they are an indicator of an "inability to adapt". There are some of those, of course - but there are some pretty dogmatic and inflexible chair churches, too (it's just a slightly different dogma). Perhaps one dog sits more comfortably with you than the other.

Yes I agree with this! Pews are particularly child friendly. Also how incredibly wasteful and environmentally unfriendly to rip out perfectly good wooden pews and replace then with chairs that are most likely to contain significant amounts of material made of petrochemical byproducts.

Our church has removed a couple of rows of pews and replaced with padded chairs with arms that are easier and with more leg room for parishioners who have difficulty with the pews for whatever reason. (usually elderly people for whom arms on chairs help).

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Angloid
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As a trivia-chasing aside to the pew debate, many if not most of the anglo-catholic churches that were built at the turn of the 19/20 centuries seemed to have spurned pews from the start, adopting rush-seated chairs on parquet floors. In England at any rate. And even where chairs were not used, light (and easily moveable benches) often took the place of fixed pews.

Can anybody give an example of an anglo-catholic church, which has always been in that tradition, where fixed pews have been the norm? I can think of one but am hard pushed to identify another.

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Gamaliel
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The Orthodox tend to eschew pews, of course, although I've heard that some Greek parishes go in for them.

They tend to make do with benches around the walls for the elderly or people who find it hard to stand for extended periods.

Cradle Orthodox Eastern Europeans I've spoken to say they feel 'trapped' by pews.

I must admit, I've never thought of the style of furniture as a deal breaker if I were considering visiting a church of whatever tradition.

I can't comment on whether pews or rush-seated chairs are more common in Anglo-Catholic churches ... Because some places seem to have both ... And also, although I often discuss higher up the candle stuff, I've not had that much experience of Anglo-Catholic services - most Anglican parishes I encounter tend to be evangelical, MotR or liberal catholic.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

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Bishops Finger
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Our Place has been of the Carflick tradition since the church was built (1909). We have pews - quite comfortable and spacious they are, too - but they're not fixed to the floor.

We can, therefore, move them about if necessary, but it does take 3 or 4 strong peeps to shift one...

IJ

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Lamb Chopped
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The good thing about pews and small children is that you can effectively box in a couple wee monsters between two adults. If they want to escape they'll either have to go over the top or dive under. But chairs, well, you can escape them left,* right, forward, back... you can also tip them over, particularly if you are turned around backward to the despair of your mother.

Give me a semi-immovable pew any time.

* yes, I've seen those inventions of the devil that are connected chairs. Those are the things that force every arse to be the same size or else intrude on the chair of one's neighbor. [Hot and Hormonal]

[ 19. November 2016, 01:37: Message edited by: Lamb Chopped ]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
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Leorning Cniht
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quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:

But then again, do you/will you take your children to cinemas and ask for a pew?

Well, no, because cinemas don't have pews. Usually I end up with one or two on my lap. If the cinema had pews that enabled small people to have a good view of the screen, that would be OK.

The sofa in my house, incidentally, is a long sectional unit that is basically a comfortable pew. It doesn't need space for driving toy cars and the like because we have floor space.

Posts: 4897 | From: USA | Registered: Feb 2013  |  IP: Logged
Pigwidgeon

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I was at the Symphony this evening -- regular theater-type seats. Two men came in and sat in front of us. One was quite small, the other was huge -- fairly tall and extremely wide. He filled his own seat and half of each seat on either side of him (one was unoccupied, the other was where his small friend sat until intermission, when he found an empty seat further down the row). Seeing him I thought of this discussion. If he were in a church with pews, he would have been comfortably accommodated. With chairs he -- and the people on either side of him -- would have been as uncomfortable as this evening.

I also like pews because I often have stuff with me -- either because I have a meeting before or after church or because people are always handing me things. I also like to keep my purse next to me rather than on the floor. Unless the church is really crowded (e.g., Easter) this is no problem.

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Don't keep calm. Go change the world.

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Baptist Trainfan
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quote:
Originally posted by Lamb Chopped:
The good thing about pews and small children is that you can effectively box in a couple wee monsters between two adults. If they want to escape they'll either have to go over the top or dive under.

Yes, indeed ... and there are some which are even undiveunderable!
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Gamaliel
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So, we've settled it, our backsides literally provide the bottom line ...

It's not theology, churchmanship, emphasis or even gut-feel.

When it comes to the deal-breaker, we don't vote with our feet we vote with our butts ...

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Baptist Trainfan
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Actually not so, in my case ... my "deal breakers" are I suspect much the same as yours ...

And there's a differences between "not willing to set foot in" and "not willing to become a long-term member of": there are plenty of churches I'd be happy to visit in a spirit of Christian fellowship on a one-off basis. But becoming a committed member is something else.

One thing which would literally stop me setting foot in a church would be if I could hear loud worship-band music from 250 yards away!

[ 19. November 2016, 07:03: Message edited by: Baptist Trainfan ]

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Enoch
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I suspect I'd agree with Gamaliel and Baptist Trainfan on a lot of this. I have to admit that things that put me off - OK to visit but not much further would include.

- over-emotional (to my ears) preaching and music, particularly if it makes me feel it is trying to wheedle or suppress my rational caution.

- a drum kit enclosed in a perspex box (I don't mind ordinary percussion at all; it's specifically everything that goes with the perspex box approach to it).

- if CofE rather than RC, using the Roman canon.

- flamboyant vestments that look as though they are intended to say 'it's all about me'.

- a website where the Gallery section is pictures of architectural bits rather than people doing things.

- making an issue of having a statement of belief other than the one that comes from Nicea.

I'm sure there are some more, but will those do for going on with?

[ 19. November 2016, 10:04: Message edited by: Enoch ]

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Brexit wrexit - Sir Graham Watson

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Angloid
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:


- flamboyant vestments that look as though they are intended to say 'it's all about me'.


[Overused]
Quite. When dressing up or dressing down becomes personal taste, rather than the minister clothing him/herself in anonymity.

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Felafool
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Lamb Chopped wrote
quote:
I've seen those inventions of the devil that are connected chairs. Those are the things that force every arse to be the same size or else intrude on the chair of one's neighbor.
Please don't blame the devil for 'health and safety gone mad'. In UK connected chairs became a requirement for fire safety reasons. In case of fire and ensuing panic, unconnected chairs can more easily be tipped over, strewn about, and cause a barricade blocking escape.

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I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty - I ordered a cheeseburger.

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Felafool
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Gamaliel wrote

quote:
So, we've settled it, our backsides literally provide the bottom line ... It's not theology, churchmanship, emphasis or even gut-feel. When it comes to the deal-breaker, we don't vote with our feet we vote with our butts
[Overused]

But my butt isn't the only reason for rejecting pews, though it seems to have attracted more attention than it deserves!

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I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty - I ordered a cheeseburger.

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Signaller
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# 17495

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quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:
Please don't blame the devil for 'health and safety gone mad'. In UK connected chairs became a requirement for fire safety reasons. In case of fire and ensuing panic, unconnected chairs can more easily be tipped over, strewn about, and cause a barricade blocking escape.

<tangent>
In twenty years in health & safety (OK, not in churches) I've never come across that one. Can you provide a source? I would have thought a row of connected chairs would be quite easy to tip over (I've seen it done, admittedly with old wooden chairs rather than modern designs), and then would be even more of a trip hazard and barrier to escape than loose chairs.
\<tangent>

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Amanda B. Reckondwythe

Dressed for Church
# 5521

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quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:
My butt isn't the only reason for rejecting pews, though it seems to have attracted more attention than it deserves!

I'll wait to pass judgment until I've seen it. [Razz]

[Miss Amanda will get her wrap.]

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"Stop your noisy songs; I do not want to listen to your praise bands." -- Amos 5:23, Good News Bible (modified)

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TomM
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quote:
Originally posted by Signaller:
quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:
Please don't blame the devil for 'health and safety gone mad'. In UK connected chairs became a requirement for fire safety reasons. In case of fire and ensuing panic, unconnected chairs can more easily be tipped over, strewn about, and cause a barricade blocking escape.

<tangent>
In twenty years in health & safety (OK, not in churches) I've never come across that one. Can you provide a source? I would have thought a row of connected chairs would be quite easy to tip over (I've seen it done, admittedly with old wooden chairs rather than modern designs), and then would be even more of a trip hazard and barrier to escape than loose chairs.
\<tangent>

According to the 'Yellow Book' (Technical Standards for Places of Entertainment - the book on designing permanent and temporary events venues see here ):
Paragraph C2.30, p.109
quote:
It is important that loose seating does not hinder evacuation in an emergency. Where temporary seating is in rows and not fixed to the floor, the loose seats near exits should be fixed together to ensure individual chairs are not knocked over...
and in the following table, it encourages for small numbers of seats to be joined together in blocks or rows.

Strictly speaking these are recommendations rather than requirements, but given the bodies behind them, I suspect most insurers and the HSE would take a dim view of ignoring then!

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Lamb Chopped
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quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:
Lamb Chopped wrote
quote:
I've seen those inventions of the devil that are connected chairs. Those are the things that force every arse to be the same size or else intrude on the chair of one's neighbor.
Please don't blame the devil for 'health and safety gone mad'.
What, you mean you actually have a government that the devil does NOT have a significant impact on?

Send me your address, we're moving.
[Biased] [Razz]

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Er, this is what I've been up to (book).
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down!

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Gamaliel
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I think Enoch and Baptist Trainfan are both in the money.

Anything manipulatively emotional or clearly hyped has to be a no-no ... Although such things can develop insidiously within ostensibly sane congregations and eat them up from the inside ...

I think every Christian tradition bears something within it that can turn toxic - even the most anodyne of them.

That's nota fall for paranoia or suspicion, but I do think we need to be on our guard ... Lively worship can easily topple over into emotionalism, dignified and restrained worship can just as easily topple into a form if liturgical fascism.

A strong emphasis on the scriptures can tumble into fundamentalism, a strong sacramental emphasis into hyper-sacramentalism.

There are dangers all ways round.

I'd also suggest that most traditions carry within themselves the antidotes and solutions to their own particular besetting sins and problems.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Gamaliel
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Whoops ... 'on the money' not 'in the money ...'

--------------------
Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord for He is kind.

http://philthebard.blogspot.com

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Nick Tamen

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# 15164

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quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:
All I'm saying is that if someone like me (who is more than willing to worship and fellowship in a wide variety of formats with differing theologies up and down the candle/chandelier) is put off by pews, what about those who the church is trying to reach, whose first impressions may be the difference between giving it a try or walking away?

This, I think, is a valid concern.

The problem is it appears to rest on a generalized assumption—that most, if not all, of those whom our churches are trying to reach will be just as put off by pews as you are, But that likely isn't the case.

Some of those we're trying to reach will be put off by pews, but some won't. Some will be put off by chairs, and some won't. Some actually could be put off by the absence of pews because "it doesn't look like a church." Others will be more drawn to a place that doesn't look like a church.

In other words, churches that go to the trouble and expense of removing pews and replacing them with chairs in the hopes that doing so will help draw the unchurched (or just new bodies) are likely to be disappointed because they went for the cosmetic fix.

Besides, are that many people who decide to give a church a try really likely to turn around and walk back out as soon as they see pews instead of chairs? My hunch is no, if they have been greeted warmly and made to feel welcome upon walking in. If that hospitality hasn't been shown, then I'd guess that the pews are only a convenient excuse.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Felafool
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Nick Tamen wrote

quote:
The problem is it appears to rest on a generalized assumption—that most, if not all, of those whom our churches are trying to reach will be just as put off by pews as you are, But that likely isn't the case. Some of those we're trying to reach will be put off by pews, but some won't. Some will be put off by chairs, and some won't. Some actually could be put off by the absence of pews because "it doesn't look like a church." Others will be more drawn to a place that doesn't look like a church.
You are right of course. I realise that my abhorrence is more to do with finding a church that I wish to commit to rather than just visit.

The same could be said for all the other reasons given for not entering a place. Some will be drawn by the idea of Mass, others repelled. Same with loud enthusiastic music.

The OP asked what would prevent me, and I'm still not going to commit to a church with pews. I said I was shallow!

Another generalisation, though probably based on broad observation and surveys, is that most people respond to personal invitations from church going friends in their first visit to church. If so, then I suspect the theology, architecture, churchmanship, furnishings, music etc...(even the welcome?) may have little to do with it initially.

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I don't care if the glass is half full or half empty - I ordered a cheeseburger.

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Brenda Clough
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Replying about the issue of separating of the sexes: I can't find the link now, but there were articles recently about the churches which teach a real distrust between girls and boys. You can't ever be alone with someone of the opposite sex, shouldn't even talk to them unless you are 'serious', which is to say contemplating marriage with them. It is impossible to believe that you could make a wise choice, and I wonder if the entire plan is to hand the control back to the parents to select your spouse for you.
I guess the larger issue for me is stupidity. I have a powerful stupidity filter, and if anything in the church strikes me as abysmally foolish I am so not there.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Nick Tamen

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quote:
Originally posted by Felafool:
The same could be said for all the other reasons given for not entering a place. Some will be drawn by the idea of Mass, others repelled. Same with loud enthusiastic music.

Indeed.

quote:
The OP asked what would prevent me, and I'm still not going to commit to a church with pews. I said I was shallow!
I don't think you're necessarily bring shallow. I think you're seeing pews as symbols or signals of deeper things that are important to you. For others of us who have weighed in on pews, the form of seating may not carry the same significance—we may think of comfort, but not necessarily of what some liturgists might refer to as the "ritual clarity" of pews vs. chairs.

Probably for most of us, there are things that carry that kind of significance, but that may not to others. And I figured that was much of what the OP was getting at: What things signal to you that this is not likely to be a place that would be a good fit for you?

quote:
Another generalisation, though probably based on broad observation and surveys, is that most people respond to personal invitations from church going friends in their first visit to church. If so, then I suspect the theology, architecture, churchmanship, furnishings, music etc...(even the welcome?) may have little to do with it initially.
I think there may be two different questions there: What makes one likely to try a particular church (invitation from a friend, website, etc.), and once tried, what would make one likely to come back (architecture, music, welcome)? To anyone with strong opinions about theology or ecclesiology, I would imagine those two things come into play with both questions. For example, no matter how gracious the invitation of a good friend, I'm not likely to give a Baptist church a try, because I already know it's probably not going to be a good fit for me.

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The first thing God says to Moses is, "Take off your shoes." We are on holy ground. Hard to believe, but the truest thing I know. — Anne Lamott

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Urfshyne
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Having discovered the delights of modern caravans (central heating; double glazing and 12ft wide) my wife and I were pleased to see that there was a very attractive looking church next door to the site at which we recently stayed.

I walked round to discover the service times and discovered that despite there being about 100 metres of low wall adjacent to the site and a road, there were no notice boards giving any information at all. There was nothing in the lych-gate either.

This information might have been available in the church porch, about 50 metres away, but I felt that if they were so little interested in attracting occasional visitors, then I was not interested in attending where I might not feel welcome.

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