The standing desk, meet the standing church

There’s a little revolution at work. My colleagues are taking their laptops or monitors and keyboards, and are propping them on boxes and low tables to making standing desks of their ordinary chair-based models. And I might be next. It seems that sitting may be bad for your health. (Perhaps you’ve been sent this article, or one like it.)

Now, the church. If you’re Orthodox Christian, standing may not be so strange an idea. Seats (or leaning!) for those unable to stand, but most people stand. I’ve only ever been to one standing Orthodox service (a memorial) but even there I could see how a standing posture leads to more natural movement in worship — and nobody dozed off. Of course, the church itself is a distraction from the world, towards heavenly realities. So if my 41-year old self (or my remembered 5-year-old self) would get lost looking at an icon, or step over to light a candle and pray — well, what’s the harm. It makes a stiff, straight pew pointed to one speaker seem downright autocratic. So long as I wasn’t actually at attention I think most people could stand for a church service.

The proof of concept: Think about how long people stand for coffee hour and how active they are then.

Oh, and this is my 3,000th blog post.

 

About Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 44, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

6 thoughts on “The standing desk, meet the standing church

  1. Scott — standing would work for most people but there are a few exceptions:

    (1) Wheelchair users and other disabled folks (obviously)

    (2) Mothers with newborn infants (easier to manage baby and nursing blanket cover if sitting down)

    (3) Elderly people

    Having the last category of people stand became a sore subject for my dad and my mom. My parents attend worship services at a nearby Air Force chapel (Dad is retired Air Force with 30 years of military service).

    In order to improve the chapel’s outreach efforts for younger adults, the Air Force chaplain leadership had directed their chapels to do things like contemporary worship instead of traditional worship. My dad’s complaint about this was having to stand for 20 minutes or more singing praise music. He said that he could stand for that length of time but my mom could not due to her medical history (series of small strokes).

    I asked my dad if the worship leaders, chaplains, etc offered sitting as an option for those who needed it (elderly, disabled, etc) using words that one often hears in UU congregations (“stand as you are willing or able”) and he said they didn’t.

    Finally … happy 3,000th!!

  2. Scott,

    Happy 3000th! Your blog is always a pleasure to read and a mine of information about Universalism in particular and Unitarian Universalism in general.

  3. Sweet idea! (shout-out to PeaceBang of Beauty Tips for Ministers, who directed me here)

    I want to respond to Steve’s concerns by saying that while many of the Orthodox churches I’ve been in, the most welcoming/inclusive had just two rows of pews along one side wall. This enabled those who needed to sit (for part or all of the service) to do so, and those who love those who needed to sit could either sit or stand close by. Children were able to play on the floor — one especially vibrant 2-year-old toddled from adult to adult, bringing joy to all. The best part was that those in wheelchairs were able to go wherever they wanted, not limited by the presence of pews/chairs. How many churches can boast that people with disabilities are able to go wherever they like in the sanctuary, not stuck in the front or the back of the room? (Everyone who wanted to sat on the floor for the sermon — it was a good break during the middle of the 90+ minute service, and again equalized everyone, children, youth, and adults).

    Congrats on 3000 :-)

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