...Yesterday I mentioned to Julie that I didn't like pews, because they made me feel as if I were part of an audience watching a performance on the altar. Without pews, I felt more like someone gathered around a bonfire. The author of this essay puts it more harshly than I would, but the insight is essentially the same. You wouldn't have convinced me several years ago when I first walked into an Orthodox church that the experience of worshiping without pews would make me feel more integrated into the liturgy (as opposed to merely tired from standing), but having worshiped this way for almost four years, I've experienced the difference, and love it! It makes one feel personally more integrated into the liturgy, I find.Read the rest (and the comments) here.
Roman Catholics used to go to mass like this too, but it appears that the Reformation also brought pews into Catholic churches as well (Byzantine Rite Catholics generally still observe the older tradition of standing during mass, though I've attended two Byzantine Rite churches in the US that have pews). It surely must strike most American Christians as interesting, at the very least, to think that pews in Christian churches are a relatively recent innovation in the history of Christianity. For three-quarters of our history, most Christians stood at corporate worship.
Let me ask my Orthodox readers for their thoughts on having pews inside our churches. I'd also like to hear from Catholic and other non-orthodox readers on the topic.
For the record I agree with Rod. Pews are OK but given a choice I prefer the more traditional practice.