The effects of our “down” economy have been numerous for churches across the country. Giving has plateaued or decreased in most churches. Building programs have been delayed due to decreased giving and/or the more rigorous rules and standards that lenders are now obligated to follow. And the movement of people in search of work has greatly increased. In my own church I believe we have seen more people relocate for employment reasons over the past three years than we did the previous twenty years.
Another area where the effects of our economy have been substantial relates to church furniture purchases. Churches still have furnishing needs, but now very limited funds available for those needs. And the result has been a willingness to accept a level of quality that would not have been acceptable a few years ago. Nowhere is that more evident than with worship seating! Church seating manufacturers are hearing the refrain of “Price! Price! Price!” like never before. So let’s answer the question, “Should my church purchase a $28 worship chair?”
A friend in ministry called a few weeks ago and asked me about church seating. His church is going to remove their pews and replace them with chairs. He asked me for my opinion on various chair options. Since I have several chairs samples in my possession from various manufacturers, I arranged to drop off several at his church for staff and elders to evaluate. However, I gave him no pricing on the various models nor any significant recommendations. I was curious what their opinions would be if prices were NOT known. I have long observed that once prices are known many will gravitate to the lowest prices regardless of other factors.
A few weeks later I called to check in with him and see what sort of feedback he had received. Amazingly the chair that was the highest-priced was ranked unanimously as everyone’s favorite. The chair that was the lowest-priced was ranked as everyone’s least favorite. And the remainder of the chairs I had provided him were also ranked (though unknowingly) exactly where they would fall on a price spectrum.
What does this tell me? First there is a significant perception of quality that comes into play when pricing is not known. And secondly, churches can recognize quality when participating in a test where pricing is not evident. With that as our background, in Part 2 I will continue to answer the question, “Should my church purchase a $28 worship chair?” And in the meantime, if your church is considering new worship seating, please be sure and connect with our friends at Church Furniture Partner for the best prices and great service!