**R e v i t a l i s e t h e c h u r c h**

**Unbolt the pews so that Bible study groups can be held in the main church building...**

By Andrew Mackinnon

Bible study groups comprising a maximum of fourteen to sixteen people, each with their individual chairs, can be conducted anywhere on the church property that is deemed suitable by the church staff and the Bible study members, however space constraints and the possibility of unfavourable weather, such as rain, thunder, lightening, hail and snow, mean that the floor space within the main church building must be made available to accommodate these Bible study groups. This necessitates the unbolting of any pews from the floor, selling them for the best possible price and replacing them with individual seats that can be moved around depending on whether they’re being used in rows for the first congregational half of these proposed church services on Sunday or in circles for these Bible study groups in the second half of these same proposed church services on Sunday.

(Any Bible study groups which can’t be accommodated on-site at the church due to a lack of space will be held off-site at members’ homes nearby at the same time in the second halves of the Sunday church services.)

I’m certain that there are many people near and far who would be keenly interested in purchasing the considerable volume of high-quality wood of which many of pews in churches are constructed. The kind of individual chairs that need to be purchased in their place are stackable, lightweight, durable, hard-wearing but comfortable, plastic-framed or metal-framed chairs. Perhaps there are other features they should arguably have which some far-sighted person might identify, given that these individual seats would be utilised over the medium to long term under this format for conducting church proposed on this web page.

Perhaps they need to have some kind of rack capable of holding pamphlets, papers or books affixed to their back or to their underside, given that the pews which they would replace probably hold a significant number of pamphlets, papers and books for the benefit of attendees at church services.

These individual chairs can be arranged in rows for the first half of church services on Sunday and then in circles of fourteen chairs for the predominantly age group-mixed and gender-mixed Bible study groups in second half of church services on Sunday. At the conclusion of these Bible study groups at 12:00 and 18:15, many hands can make light work of spending up to fifteen minutes arranging these individual seats once again into rows, in preparation for the start of the Sunday afternoon church service at 13:30 and in preparation for the mid-week weekly leaders’ meetings on Tuesday evening from 19:30 to 20:30, respectively.

There should be markers on the floor of the main building in which these Sunday church services are conducted comprising heavy-duty industrial tape, of an appropriately attractive and subdued colour, showing where the rows of individual chairs need to be placed in preparation for the start of the Sunday church services and for the start of the mid-week, weekly leaders’ meetings on Wednesday evening. Such heavy-duty industrial tape can comfortably be affixed to the floor whether it’s already covered in carpet or whether it’s a wood, tiled or polished concrete floor. The reason that heavy-duty industrial tape appears to be the best way of making these markings on the floor, is that it’s more than likely that the ministers, pastoral staff and other staff of the church will see fit to change the seating arrangement in the church from time to time. Making these markings with heavy-duty industrial tape means that the locations of these markings can easily be changed by tearing the heavy-duty industrial tape up off of the floor and making new markings with this tape to indicate the new locations of rows. However, heavy-duty industrial tape will probably leave a residue when it’s removed that might be difficult to clean up if carpet is used as the floor covering in the main church building. An appropriate solvent can be used to clean any residue that this tape leaves behind on wood, tiles or polished concrete.

Consider the following diagram of the congregational seating area in the main building of a church, measuring 14 metres (45 feet 11.2 inches) in width and 18 metres (59 feet 0.7 inches) in depth from front to back:

Every square on the grid of the diagram above represents an area 0.5 metres (1 foot 7.7 inches) in width and 0.5 metres (1 foot 7.7 inches) in depth. The dark rows of squares are the congregational rows of seats. The dark vertical lines on the left and right represent the solid outer walls of the building while the lighter horizontal lines at the top and bottom represent the distinction between the congregational seating area of this main building and both the front of the building from which the church service is led and the rear of the building by which attendees both enter and exit the building.

There is a 1 metre (3 feet 3.4 inches) aisle running along the left and right sides of the building and a 2 metre (6 feet 6.7 inches) aisle running down the middle of the building. There are 16 rows of 20 seats in the congregational seating area represented by the diagram above, which totals 320 seats. Assuming that the church is full one Sunday morning at the start of the 9:00 service, there will be approximately 200 adults in attendance and approximately 120 children aged 0 to 11 years at the start of the calendar year.

After the first 20 minutes of the church service has elapsed, the children aged 1.5 to 11 years will depart for Creche and Sunday school, leaving the 200 adults and approximately 15 infants aged 0 to 1.5 years to listen to the preaching in the second half of this first part of the church service.

After the preaching has concluded, there will be a 30 minute interlude for the adults to greet each other and socialise with each other. During this time, the preacher makes himself available to answer any questions that those in attendance might have about the material he preached.

After 15 minutes of this 30 minute interlude has elapsed, those attendees whose Bible study groups in the second half of the church service are located off-site, such as at church members’ homes nearby, depart for those off-site Bible study groups. Preference for staying on-site for the Bible study groups should be given to the elderly and mothers with infant children. In addition, the Bible study groups geared towards assimilating newcomers into faith in Jesus Christ and into the life of the church will be held on-site, led by pastoral staff members of the church or other suitable leaders in the church.

After the full 30 minute interlude has elapsed, the remaining 55 adult males will spend the next 7.5 minutes stacking approximately 200 seats to the front and back of the seating area of the main church building and arranging the remaining 126 seats into 9 circles of 14 seats each, with an outside diameter of 4 metres (13 feet 1.5 inches). Each adult male needs to remove and stack approximately 4 seats each and arrange approximately 2 seats each into circles of 14 seats. In this case of the congregational seating in the diagram above, an easy way to figure out which seats to keep and which seats to stack is to only keep every third row of seats, starting with the front row. Out of 320 seats, that would leave exactly 120 seats remaining, which is just 6 seats short of the 126 seats needed to form the 9 circles of 14 seats each in the following diagram:

The width of every seat in the diagram above is 50 centimetres (1 foot 7.7 inches), which is a pretty accurate reflection of the width of actual adult seats. Assuming that the front of each seat in each Bible study group circle needs a full 60 centimetres (1 foot 11.6 inches) in width so that everybody can feel as though they have enough space, this means that the inside circumference of such a circle of 14 seats would be 60 centimetres (1 foot 11.6 inches) x 14, being 840 centimetres (27 feet 6.7 inches).

Since the formula for the circumference of a circle is Pi (i.e. 3.14) multiplied by the length of the diameter of the circle, the length of the diameter of each inside circle of 14 seats in the diagram above must be 840 centimetres (27 feet 6.7 inches) divided by 3.14, which is 268 centimetres (8 feet 9.5 inches).

Since every seat in the diagram above measures 50 centimetres (1 foot 7.7 inches) from front to back, which is a pretty accurate reflection of the dimensions of actual adult seats, this means that the diameter of each outside circle of 14 seats in the diagram above must be 268 centimetres (8 feet 9.5 inches) plus 50 centimetres (1 foot 7.7 inches) plus 50 centimetres (1 foot 7.7 inches), which is 368 centimetres (12 feet 0.9 inches). Since you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who wants to work with that figure, let’s round it up to an even 400 centimetres or 4 metres (13 feet 1.5 inches). As you can see from the diagram above, every circle of 14 seats fits neatly inside a square of 4 metres (13 feet 1.5 inches) wide and 4 metres (13 feet 1.5 inches) deep.

It is obviously critically important that there is enough space between the circles of seats so that people can get in an out in the course of the Bible study group, for whatever reason, including any possible emergency situation. I believe that there needs to be a minimum distance between the circles of seats of 1.5 metres (4 feet 11.1 inches). This allows anybody in a Bible study group to exit the group by moving their seat into the space between the circles of seats and walking out through the gap in their circle of seats that they create by doing that.

Note that the 4 metre (13 foot 1.5 inches) outer diameter that has been provided to each circle of 14 seats in the diagram above is actually almost perfectly suited to a circle of 16 seats. 16 multiplied by 60 centimetres (1 foot 11.6 inches) gives an inside circumference of 960 centimetres (31 feet 6 inches). Dividing by Pi (i.e. 3.14), this equates to an inside diameter of 306 centimetres (10 feet 0.5 inches). Adding the depth of two seats on opposite ends of this inside diameter gives and outside diameter of 406 centimetres or 4.1 metres (13 feet 5.4 inches), which is effectively the same as the outside diameter of 4 metres (13 feet 1.5 inches) of each circle of 14 seats in the diagram above.

Since the Bible study groups of 14 people each will expand in size by one or two people each as members of the group invite their friends to join, it’s advantageous to space the circles of 14 seats out within squares with sides of 4 metres (13 feet 1.5 inches), so that they can comfortably accommodate these one or two welcome newcomers. Once a Bible study group gets too large, namely more than 16 members, it will have to split into two groups. This is healthy growth, just like a growing cell in the human body splitting into two smaller cells.

In order to gauge the diagonal gap between the outside circles of 14 seats each in the diagram above, Pythagoras’s Theorem (which relates to the length of the hypotenuse of a right-angle triangle) implies that the length of a diagonal inside a square of side 1 unit is 1.4 units. In the diagram above, each diagonal in each square of side 50 centimetres (1 foot 7.7 inches) is 1.4 x 50 centimetres (1 foot 7.7 inches) in length, being 70 centimetres (2 feet 3.6 inches) in length. Therefore, it can be confirmed visually that the minimum distance between the outside circles of 14 seats each in the diagram above, whether horizontal, vertical or diagonal, is the equivalent of at least two of these diagonals of 70 centimetres (2 feet 3.6 inches) in length each, totalling 140 centimetres or 1.4 metres (4 feet 7.1 inches).