I love the community at Church Answers! We received this question from one of our Australian community members. With some minor changes to protect confidentiality, here is the question in full:
This may categorize as vastly different cultural norms, but as an Australian who has recently spent a few months in the US I couldn’t help but notice the amount of effort, and no doubt coin, churches seem to invest in floral arrangements. Many of these are fake flowers (and the church provides a storeroom or two for these to be housed) and many have fresh flowers, every single week.
I have nothing against flowers, in fact I love fresh flowers but it’s just not something we generally have in Australian churches, and certainly not on a regular basis. Coming from a church that has a very limited budget, where quite literally every dollar counts, the main objection I found myself having was in keeping first things first, wondering how the money invested into these ‘beautification projects’ were enhancing the presentation of the gospel to help save souls and further the kingdom?
Some arrangements were tasteful and lovely, and some not so (I realise beauty is subjective, but these fake flowers looked like they hadn’t aged very well at all in the last 20 years). I was given the impression that there were whole committees dedicated to this task and that it would cause great offence to perhaps a number of people to even suggest to have ‘less flowers’ so that funds might be used elsewhere (namely, I was thinking for outreach and evangelism purposes).
So, please forgive my ignorance, but can you help me understand more about church beautification and the emphasis on floral arrangements? Is it just a cultural norm and generally expected? Is it helpful in pointing church goers to Christ? And what’s been your experience if you have ever suggested to spend less money on flowers?
How Would Your Respond to Our Australian friend?
- Does your church spend time and money on flowers?
- Is it worth the time, money, and effort?
- Do you have some ugly fake flowers in your church?
- Do you have flower committees that spends more time on flowers than the church does on evangelism in the community?
- What other input do you have?
Outside Eyes and Stewardship
It is fascinating to hear from someone who has a totally outside perspective and wonders why many of our churches do what they do. In this case, the outsider seemed perplexed with our churches’ abundant emphasis on flowers.
How would you respond? Let me hear from you.
Posted on May 28, 2018
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
More from Thom
Oh my favorite subjects, flowers, church beautification, and souls! It’s been my experience that the more traditional churches love to have flowers around the pulpit. I have found that more contemporary to modern churches take a more minimalist view on church decor. Though I agree that decorating the church in and of itself doesn’t save souls; it does, however, make the environment more welcoming. This is when done tastefully. Arguably, it’s the people that make the church warm and welcoming, and the gospel message preached that the Holy Spirit uses to prick the soul. I would venture to say, though, that flowers, banners, etc. augment the worship experience.
Fake vs. Real. I do not speak for all churches in America. Again, only going by experience I can speak on why churches use silk flowers over fresh. In one word, budget. Silk or presevered flowers last longer than fresh. I just wish some churches would learn how to maintain their silk and preserved flowers for true longevity and beauty. But that’s another story. Plants, are the best investment. This is because of their use of oxygen that improves air quality in the sanctuary (speaking as a florist). Another reason that churches may use silk flowers is because of allergies. The adverse reaction to certain floral scents and pollen are viable issues.
Using Money Wisely. If flowers are in the church budget, why not. I would hope that no church would negate in paying a light bill or choose floral decor over community outreach. If they do, shame on them! Utimately, the worshiping experience is about honoring God with our gifts. So, my question at the end of all this would be: Is God pleased with what He sees and experiences? If the flowers and the actions of the people don’t match, then Huston, we have a problem. But, as a florist and interim pastor, I want God to enjoy the sweet smelling aroma of both. I hope this helps. Grace and blessings.
I personally have been hurt by five churches along my journey and have decided enough is enough. I have decided to document my journey and the resources that have helped me through. My son and I did a video with a solution to fake churches and building churches with a firm biblical foundation. Please check it out.
In my church, we use natural flowers as always.I am willing to donate for my church for this rest of the years,I know that in donating or doing this job,will make a brighter turnout to my family.
I realize that I’m coming very late to this party, but this came up at a recent Altar Guild meeting (our first in years). One of the long time members said she understood that we couldn’t use fake flowers on the altar arrangements. I have been a member of an Episcopal parish that used them when we didn’t have sponsored flowers. Our church is just coming back from a split and bitter battle and we are focusing on outreach and increasing church membership. We are still in mission status and have a Vicar because we aren’t quite there on becoming a self-sustaining parish. We do have two live plants which either get left in the freezing cold sanctuary and the following week are near death or if they get taken to the office, they don’t make it back to the sanctuary. We consider ourselves lucky to have an Altar Guild never mind a flower guild and because we live in the desert there aren’t a lot of backyard flowering bushes.
If our church uses a tasteful silk flower arrangement will we need to add that to our list of sins. These arrangements will be donated and can be reused. Personally, I think this is a better way to recycle but still make the front of the church not so bare, rather than having cut flowers that will have to be tossed; or plants that we kill. Can someone say if there is a Nationwide Policy for churches who don’t have the members or money to do flowers every week or need that money for outreach or fixing our HVAC system. I would love to hear an answer to this question.
Well, if you’re late, then what am I? LOL Hello, Becky. I would be honored to speak to you more about your church’s situation. That is, if you haven’t found a viable resolution. I give the moderator of this site permission to give you my email address to discuss this topic further.
Grace and Peace.
I’d like to introduce you to Aunt Millie, one our longtime members. She’s delightful but when someone questions her about “her flowers” her mood quickly changes.
We’ve learned to keep Aunt Millie happy.
Oh, you have one of those too!
We had a set of tallish (4 feet) fake flowers donated by one member, and they stayed on either side of the podium forever. The ladies before me would decorate, but had the same decorations for years, put away until their season came. When those folks left, we simplified, especially avoiding pagan symbols for holidays. Not much was ever spent on church decorations, except fresh flowers on Valentine’s, (which we later abandoned as it had pagan roots too. ). Our VBS was what we spent a lot on, even when we were trying to save money, (Dollar Store, homemade stuff, real cooked meals rather than snacks and ready made stuff, etc) was still expensive. Our last year we spent $700 on VBS (24 kids came) and got $200 more or less for donations so VBS was a lot of fun, but that year didn’t have one salvation, so we gave it up, All the money was coming out of the Pastor’s and my pocket, not the church, and we just couldn’t keep that up. (about 30 church members at the time).
I’m so sorry to hear that your church gave up VBS. I pray that the seeds sown by that ministry would be watered and nurtured. Sometimes, VBS is the only biblical study some children have. I hope and pray that the church will revisit that at some point or have something else in its place. I’d love to hear more. Praying for your ministry.
Thom, From Australia isn’t it mostly desert or dry making a green flower out of place?
WE live in Northwest Florida where greenery is abundant and yes we Love flowers and greenery. But as was noted, if we are going to do something do it well! I have noted in my 30+ years of ministry change is inevitable AND beauty is in eye of the Beholder.
Where you like blue I may like red, you like carpet I may not, but I have a strong belief that a church should update every 5 years! Not to appear you are stepping into a time capsule of the 70’s.
Serving in a liturgical (Lutheran) church, the flowers contribute to our worship. The number of flowers are either 3 or 7 (both Biblical numbers). The colors are coordinated to the liturgical season (white during Easter, green and/or red for Christmas, purple and pink for Lent, lots of greenery during the summer). Flowers are paid for individually in honor of specific memorial events. Often, the flowers are taken to individuals who receive from our food ministry, which is delivered to their door, Sundays after church. They enhance worship, they enhance ministry. And we review all this yearly, during the summer about why we do the things we do.
Our current church does not do fresh flowers, or any flower arrangements, for that matter. Our previous church has a flower calendar, and members may select a Sunday to purchase flowers for the sanctuary in honor or memory of a loved one. The members pay for the flowers. Many are donated after weddings and/or funerals. After Sunday’s services, the big arrangement is broken down into smaller ones and delivered to our members who are hospitalized, in nursing homes, or sick at home.
My church is a Methodist church which has tradition of people placing flowers on the table in memory or honor of their loved ones. It is a long tradition handed down from our Anglican heritage. Occasionally there are fake flowers to the chagrin of few! In most cases the real flowers are taken to the nearest nursing home to be enjoyed by the residents who live there. Just that act of kindness has given us an opportunity to have conversations with the staff and residents who appreciate the flowers in their rather stressful working and living conditions. I truly appreciate my brother’s concerns. Thank you and blessings
We do have fake flowers and a room dedicated to their storage and safekeeping. Reading this reminds me why I do not like fake flowers. Perhaps we shall liberate them to a better life- pray for me! Lol. That endeavor would certainly cause at least three complainers to launch into a campaign.
However, we are focusing more on outreach than inreach so maybe we can use the actual mission of the chirch as an excuse.
You can’t get rid of those fake flowers because they were given and arranged by my dearly departed great-grandmother.
If they looked nice in 1979, then they still look nice. Besides, the layers of dust only add character.