So I started thinking: would a church that actually made an investment into more comfortable seating actually succeed in drawing a larger audience. It strikes me that for many folks, church is a tough sell these days. Sunday is one of the two days of the week many people have to get caught up on sleep/ chores/ football/ golf/ family/ whatever. You know, personal time. Giving up a chunk of this time in favor of an hour (not including the time to get ready (church clothes!), commuting, etc.) of church can, for many, be looked at as a big opportunity cost (especially if you were out the night before).
So just on its face, church is a tough sell. Add to the equation the fact that most folks know that, because of the seating, they will be physically uncomfortable for the time they are there, and I think it becomes an even tougher sell. I'm guessing this is especially true for parents of young children who, as far as I know, do not typically deal with any degree of physical discomfort well. Is this one of the reasons why church attendance has been on a steady decline?
Maybe. Here's an article about a church that moved its services to a movie theater and had a great response. Apparently the comfortable seating and the familiarity of the theater made it a more appealing place to go. Professional sports see this all the time - sure the team is the draw, but often times that isn't enough. So they build a new, state of the art arena, with all the amenities for the fans, and attendance soars. So why is church different?
I guess my point is that if you looked at a church as a business, and the declining congregation as dwindling customer base, it would seem that it is time to do some out of the box thinking to re-invigorate things. Now I'm not suggesting an alter facing a room full of lazy-boys (with the built in fridges?) but something in between the two extremes might be nice. Make the place comfortable for me, and more importantly, make it comfortable for families to bring their kids.
Sure, this might rankle some of the old guard - that's what new thinking always does. And sure there might be some cost considerations. But investing in your customers is never a bad idea - it usually ends up paying for itself in droves.