“Should our church purchase metal-framed church chairs or wood-framed church chairs?”  That’s a common question I receive from churches purchasing new church chairs.  Let’s explore some of the most prevalent factors that will influence this important decision your church will make.

* What type of seating are your new church chairs replacing?

In other words, are your new church chairs going to replace existing chairs at your church or are they replacing pews that your church has had in place for years? This question is very important as transitioning from pews to church chairs, while very common for churches in our day, can be a very tense process for many churches. Since almost all pews are constructed out of wood, I have found that in such transitions, wood-framed chairs tend to be better received by many in the church. Since the new church chairs have wood frames, the gravity of the transition seems to be muted a bit. Perhaps there is a sense of compromise that exists in such situations and the transition is more amicably accepted.

* What is your budget for new church chairs?

If the budget for your new church chairs is constrained, then it will immediately become evident to your church that metal-framed church chairs work much better within your budget. In general I communicate to churches that in comparing a quality metal-framed church chair to a quality wood-framed church chair, they will likely be able to purchase 2.5 metal-framed church chairs for every one wood-framed church chair. This does not mean that the metal-framed church chairs are inferior to wood-framed church chairs from a quality standpoint. Rather it just reflects the expense of the raw material to construct the chairs and also the amount of labor that is required to produce a wood-framed church chair.

* What are the long-term implications for our church with this decision?

This is a very fair question that churches have asked us over the years. Here are some observations that I have in response to this question:

  1. The durability of metal-framed church chairs and wood-framed church chairs will be similar assuming quality church chairs are purchased. With wood-framed church chairs you have the possibility of “nicking” the wood frame as you move the chairs around. With metal-framed church chairs you have the possibility of “scuffing” the metal frame as you move the chairs around. But if the chairs are not being moved much, then both of the above issues are basically irrelevant.
  2. If your church would ever desire to sell your church chairs, the metal-framed church chairs likely will be far easier to sell and you will also recapture a greater portion of your initial investment. I recently helped a church dispose of over 400 wood-framed church chairs they purchased two decades ago. The chairs were in excellent condition. However, even though they paid about $120.00 a chair two decades ago, they only were able to sell their chairs for $20.00 each. If their chairs would have had metal frames, they likely would have obtained the same $20.00 per chair, but their initial investment would have been far less.
  3. In general, metal-framed church chairs are considered more contemporary than wood-framed church chairs. Again, this is more an observation I have from my experience

versus an objective study. But as I work with multiple architects, interior designers, etc., I find that almost all current contemporary new construction is requesting metal-framed church chairs.

As your church decides between wood-framed church chairs and metal-framed church chairs, I believe the above considerations will be of value to your church.  And, here is my shameless plug, I recommend you go to Church Chair Finder to get the best price on both wood and metal church chairs.

One of the most common questions those selling church chairs across the United States are asked is, “Where are these church chairs made?” And whenever that question is asked, the person that is going to answer the question immediately recognizes that this potential purchaser of church chairs has some concerns, whether valid or not, about church chairs produced somewhere other than North America. Some of these concerns will stem from ASSUMPTIONS that are believed but have not been tested. Let’s work our way through three of the most commonly held assumptions about church chairs! Perhaps we’ll see that some great reasons to consider an offshore produced church chair!

• Assumption #1: North American Made Chairs MUST be Superior!

This assumption is quite flawed. Just because a church chair is produced in North American does not make it superior to all church chairs manufactured offshore. What we have found is that a quality North American manufactured church chair will cost about twice what a quality offshore manufactured church chair will cost. Because of this significant cost difference, North American manufacturers are constantly looking for ways to narrow that gap. Most often this results in less materials being used in the construction of the chair. In fact, what we have found is that for a North American produced church chair to be priced in a similar range as a quality offshored manufactured church chair, the North American produced church chair will inevitably be the inferior chair. So a great reason to consider a foreign produced church chair is that dollar for dollar, you will likely receive more by purchasing the offshore produced church chair.

• Assumption #2: Imported Chairs MUST be Inferior!

This is another flawed assumption. We have in our showroom a couple of dozen church chairs produced by various manufacturers, both domestic and offshore. One of our favorite practices is to set up several of these chairs for a church without any names, prices, information, etc., on the chairs. We then ask various representatives of the church to evaluate the church chairs before them totally based on what is before them absent any other information. In many ways this is a “chair taste test!” Here’s what invariably results. One North American produced church chair that costs about $100.00 each will almost always make the top three chairs. But the other two or three chairs chosen by the church will almost always be foreign produced church chairs. The church chairs that are claimed to be produced in North America consistently bring up the rear in these tests. So a second great reason to consider a foreign produced church chair is that despite claims by North American manufacturers otherwise, imported church chairs are not by default inferior chairs.

• Assumption #3: Made in the USA MEANS Made in the USA!

This is one of the most misunderstood assumptions regarding church chairs. The reality is that a product that incurs 51% of its total production cost in the USA, can then be advertised and characterized as having been “Made in the USA”! Just because a church chair salesperson is stating repeatedly that the church chair they are trying to convince your church to purchase is made in the USA, does NOT in any way mean it is made TOTALLY in the USA. In fact, here’s a very common practice utilized today. An American manufacturer has some church chair frames produced in China. They then have plywood seats and backs attached to the frames in China. They then have foam placed on the plywood seats and backs in China. And they then have cheesecloth wrapped around the chair and thousands of these chairs are sent to the manufacturer in the USA. Once here the chairs are upholstered with a fabric produced in the USA. And the cost of the fabric and the labor and the transportation and the warehousing and other miscellaneous costs incurred by this manufacturer in the USA happens to be just over 51% of the total production cost of the church chair. The manufacturer then can legally emphasize, “Made in the USA” though much of the chair was produced in China. So a third great reason to consider a church chair made in China is chances are at least some of it was produced there regardless of what is being shared with your church.

We hope these three solid reasons for your church considering a quality church chair produced in an offshore arrangement will assist your church in making the best possible choice as you purchase church chairs.  And, remember, we recommend using Church Chair Finder to buy church chairs.  Why?  Because we helped create it!

Ok, this post is biased. I am not going to fluff that fact at all… I helped create Church Chair Finder.

So, “disclaimer” aside, I want to share with you why I am absolutely and honestly convinced that Church Chair Finder is the place that all churches should go when considering new church chairs. Let me start by listing three simple reasons:

  1. Easy to Use
  2. Lowest Prices
  3. Great Customer Service

Can buying church chairs be easy?
Well, making a big-ticket purchase is never easy… And buying new chairs for your worship service are no exception. There are many factors to consider from color and style to quality and price. However, Church Chair Finder reduces this process to a simple online form which helps you take wise first-steps towards your chair purchase. After you complete the form a church chair professional contacts you and holds-your-hand through the rest of the process. After 5 minutes on the phone you will be a church chair expert and ready to make an informed decision.

How can you be SURE to get the best price on church chairs?
By working with a company who not only guarantees it – they make it their mission and they encourage price comparison. Church Chair Finder is a service of Save Your Church Money; a ministry created by a pastor to help churches save money on the “stuff” they need. And when you use Church Chair Finder you can receive quotes from multiple chair suppliers with one easy click.

However, their main supplier (Church Furniture Partner) will always offer the lowest price. Again, they guarantee it. It is important to note that they offer the lowest price off-the-bat and do not try and make you haggle for a good price or try to only give you the best deal if you can find someone to “price match”.

Sometimes you may find what looks like a better price elsewhere but READ THEIR FINE PRINT and GET A SAMPLE CHAIR. It can be easy to get seduced into a chair that looks as good (on the web) and seems better priced — only to find out the chair is of poor quality and not built to last.

Why is customer service important when buying church chairs?
When ordering a large quantity (50+) of anything and dealing with freight shipping there can be some need for good communication and there can be some times when follow-up is needed after the order. If you have a damaged chair or chairs, have a freight delivery issue, have a fabric issue, etc you are going to want a company that focuses on customer service. Church Chair Finder is all about CHURCHES and honoring the church through fair pricing and excellent service. I cannot say enough about their care. When you call them you will get right through to someone who CARES.

Anyway, I hope I have made a strong case for what I truly believe… Church Chair Finder from Save Your Church Money is the absolute safest, smartest, most affordable, and easiest way to buy your new church chairs.

Check them out at ChurchChairFinder.Com!

Be careful what church chairs you buy!  A recent event prompted me to update this otherwise abandoned blog.  After all, our chairs were purchased and, as I mentioned, I even took part in building a website (Church Chair Finder) to make purchasing church chairs easier than it was when I faced the nightmare head-on.

Let me start with our chairs…
As would be expected our church chairs (Comfortek 7701) are holding up just fine with no noticeable wear on the fabric and absolutely no bend, movement in the frames.  The chairs are mainly used for two services on Sunday for about 3 hours sitting time and on Wednesday nights for about 1 hour of sitting time.  So, in all, I figure that the chairs have seen roughly 560 hours of “butt time” and about 1248 “exchanges”.  By exchanges I mean people getting up and sitting down on the chairs; so if my formula and math is correct — those are the rough numbers.  We did have some very slight chipping of the paint on a couple of the frames.   This is not even noticeable except with close inspection and these are chairs that are moved in and out of isles to add extra seating when needed.  So, we are still very content with our church chair purchase.

But lets talk about The River church…
A little less than a mile from us is another wonderful church who purchased chairs just a few weeks earlier than we did.  We had actually considered the same chair they had as it was a bit less expensive.  We would save about $3 per chair, and while $3 doesn’t sound like much $3×120 = $360 so it was a worthwhile savings.  We ended up passing on those particular church chairs because the salesman we had talked to suggested that they might not be the best quality and that quality should be considered along with price….  THANK YOU!

This past weekend our services were cancelled due to bad weather (the 3rd time this crazy winter!) so my wife and I had the chance to visit The River as they have some services later in the day, after the roads had cleared a bit.  I got a chance to see the chairs “down by The River” and my heart sunk for their church.  Now, I cannot say for sure how much (more) those chairs have been used/abused than out chairs but they were in tough shape.

On my chair, the one I sat it, the frame gave a very slight but still noticeable side-to-side sway.  My chairs was still connected by a piece of plastic to the other chairs in the row so I wondered if they swayed when I swayed but my wife said she didn’t notice any.  Speaking of the plastic connectors which connect the chairs together, just a quick look down our row and it was obvious that some of the pieces had broken and the chairs were actually NOT connected.  This is not good as it represent a possible danger in the event of a fire and makes it hard to have clean, straight rows.

The worst part however was the fabric and comfort of the chairs.  Some of the fabric on a few (guesstimate around 12 – 15 of what looked to be around 200 chairs) was bunching up.  I am not sure how else to describe it; it was “bunched”.  The chair itself was also very uncomfortable, something we did not notice when checking out the sample chair so my educated-guess is that the chair’s foam or whatever is inside the fabric had degraded or weakened over time.  It did feel much like we were sitting on wood.

All-in-all I feel badly for this church.  We know around what they must have paid because we looked at the same chair around the same time and I can say definitively it was not worth the savings.  These chairs look like they are ready to be replaced NOW.  The fabric was also clearly faded in spots but this could have to do with sunlight getting into the worship center…  Any which way you cut it, I decided it was time to write a blog post here.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE beware of cheap church chairs.  The old adage remains “if it sounds too good to be true…”.  If a dealer is offering you a church chair that just seems to be a great deal less expensive than other church chairs — there is a reason!

I haven’t blogged here in a while and for good reason.  Instead of simply complaining about what a nightmare it was to buy church chairs – I DID SOMETHING ABOUT IT!

Meet Church Chair Finder!

I worked with an awesome company called Save Your Church Money and, with my church chair frustration in mind, helped to develop a new website that should end the church chair buying nightmare forever!  Can you tell I’m a bit excited!?

I went from being a pastor who was frustrated with the church chair industry and how it treated churches to a pastor who helps churches by making buying church chairs risk-free and easy!!

Church Chair Finder is my baby – and, no, I do NOT make money on the chairs sold there.  What is Church Chair Finder?  It is a completely new way to find and buy chairs.  There are a couple of cool features that make it unique…

#1 – A Dedicated Church Chair Search
When you search for chairs using the Church Chair Finder Search you will not get a bunch of store listings telling you to come check out their chairs.  You will get relevant results for the chairs you’re searching for…  Try it!  You can enter a chair color and get those results or a chair brand and compare, etc…

#2 – Have Church Chair Suppliers Compete for Your Business
This is the milk-and-honey!  Instead of searching the internet and talking to different church chair suppliers (and giving them your contact information) you can simply visit one website, submit one form and viola!!  You will receive print-ready quotes from several verified church chair suppliers.  This makes it easy to compare apples-to-apples the different chairs and suppliers and to bring several quotes before you church decision-makers.  You will send hours and hours less time (no more church chair nightmares!) finding the right chairs at the right price.  The suppliers will compete over you – they will all give you their BEST, LOWEST PRICE QUOTE in order to win your business.  Best of all it is risk-free…  When you submit a request for quotes NONE of your personal information is released to the suppliers.  They will not call you, email you, put you on any lists…  They use the Church Chair Finder quote system to send a quote directly to your inbox and that is it — it is up to YOU to take the next step if you choose to work with one of the suppliers.  Please, TRY IT OUT, it is free!

The last thing I want to note is that Church Chair Finder, in partnership with Save Your Church Money (SYCM), is currently offering FREE church chairs.  For details read the article on the SYCM website.

Thanks and God Bless!

So as you read in my last post it really seemed like used church chairs were not going to be the answer to our worship seating needs.  So I got my little brain stuck on the Hercules Worship Seating (link to Google search) since it seemed so much less expensive than the other church chairs I was seeing offered.

I went through the process, compared prices and found that little (ugly) site I mentioned earlier to have the lowest price on Hercules chairs.  So I thought “YES!  I am finally done!”.  But…

“I want to let you know that these hercules chairs are cheap, don’t last too long, and have some assembly required.”

Ugh…

The guy on the phone then started talking about another church chair which he strongly recommended.  This Comfortek brand chair was, of course – you guessed it, more expensive than the Hercules chair I had wanted.  As I half listened to the nice man on the phone talk I wondered if I was just trying to be “upsold” by a salesman looking to make an extra few bucks…  After a thank you, I hung up the phone and went back to the web to do some MORE research.  Three things stuck out to me about this guy’s speil.

  1. Hercules chairs are cheap and require assembly.
  2. The type of foam can be important.
  3. Chairs need to meet fire safety requirements and Hercules chairs might not.

AHHHHHH!  Ok, still have to vent some frustration.

So I checked into it and it was easy to find that #1 was true – the worship chairs from Hercules did require some assembly.  The backs of the chairs need to be screwed into the frame.  I immediately thought of the furniture I had assembled over the years and no matter how much “easy assembly” was promoted I could not imagine me or even our whole church spending the day assembling over 100 chairs!!

YES, YOU GUESSED IT…  MY CHURCH CHAIR NIGHTMARE CONTINUED…

After feeling that the company I was looking at for church chairs (churchchairs4less.com) felt like a used car salesman.  The thought crossed my mind — ‘you know what, buying used might be a good idea’.  So I went back to my trusty tool (Google) and started the hunt for used church chairs.

When searching for used church chairs it seemed eBay was the place to go…  So I went there and I found something quite frustrating…  IT SEEMED THE SAME SELLERS WERE ON EBAY SELLING CHURCH CHAIRS!

I mean I literally saw the exact same offerings on eBay as I had found elsewhere on the web.  New church chairs, NOT used one.  The same “Hercules worship chair” that was being offered everywhere and at the same price.  I did however find some used church chairs as well…  And some of the prices seemed very tempting.

The bid was $15 for 60 USED CHURCH CHAIRS

Wow!!  However, when reading the auction carefully I saw the words “the bid price is for one chair but you must buy all 60″.  So the bid I saw wasn’t for 60 chairs, it was $15 for one chair – at least $900 for all sixty.  Add that to the fact that the condition on the chairs was “some wear and tear” and I gave a second thought.  I decided to go back to Google and continue looking for used church chairs.  I came across the following article (it is a link) titled The Dangers of Buying Used Church Chairs.  There were a bunch of factors I hadn’t thought of about buying used.  UGH!

How can the simple task of buying chairs for my church be so difficult!!??

I also noticed a link to a company called Church Furniture Partner from the article…  So, I clicked on it and was taken to their website.  I wasn’t to impressed with the page, it was a list of manufacturers with the notion “contact us and we will sell you some church chairs”.  So, back to Google I went…  AGAIN!!!

MY CHURCH CHAIR NIGHTMARE – TO BE CONTINUED!!