Fake Flowers and Churches

May 28, 2018

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.

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  • I am in Guatemala this week on mission with a local church there. They don’t have much for their building but they had the most beautiful fresh flower arrangements. And there’s a chart on the wall for the entire year for who’s responsible for the weekly floral arrangements. A few outtakes:
    • It doesn’t cost them anything.
    • It gives someone a responsibility to oversee.
    • It involves everyone in the church.
    • It gives the church a sense of pride for what little they have.
    • It didn’t seem to take away from other ministries in the church.
    • It made the church look more appealing.

  • Our weekly bouquets were given each week as a special family offering for a memorial remembrance of a loved one or in thanks to God for a special occasion; anniversary, birthday, etc. People enjoyed the opportunity to give a special thank offering that honored the Lord and blessed us all with a touch of God’s creative handiwork

  • There is a dark British comedy called “Keeping Mum” with Rowan Williams about a small Anglican parish with an obsessive “flower lady” who pursues the pastor relentlessly. While the language and some of the content is rough, the flower-lady is every pastor’s nightmare.

  • One reason there are so many flowers in a church is primarily for memorial or honorary reasons. Unless special flowers are put in the sanctuary on special occasions, i.e poinsettias at Christmas or lilies at Easter. I am not aware of a time where our church actually used funds to purchase any flowers. They are purchased and provided by members. Flowers are used much in the same way at church as they would be on a grave. They are provided by a member who wishes to memorialize or honor a friend or loved one. The church secretary makes notes of the provider and the person being remembered or honored in the church bulletin. But other than those reasons, I don’t know how flowers in church got started but I guess these are the reasons why.

  • Coming out of a medium size UM church in a small Louisiana town, the flowers are ever present on the alter, every Sunday. Two arrangements, and unless someone forgets in which case there are some greenery type plants that go on the stands. The church does not pay for these arrangements, and hardly ever have I seen fake flowers up there.
    This is paid for by individual members or families.and is often to commerate some important familial event. The exception to this is during Advent when we have the poinsettia tree on the alter behind the communion table.
    The other exception has generally been Easter with the Easter lillies, but we have decided after this year, there would be no more, for a number of reasons. None of this is paid for by the church. It is more of a social convention from the days when we were a small church composed of a few families, which was not that long ago (1980’s). We do love our social conventions dontchaknow.

  • Sherman Barnette says on

    This one is funny to me. I’m sitting here just imagining the response if this were brought up in our church in MS. It’s shocking and sad to think about the stuff we do in our churches without a second thought that does nothing to help accomplish the mission.

  • Well, we don’t have a flower committee and we don’t spend a lot of money on the flowers we do use. Most of our flowers are donated and the ladies that receive them make sure the fake ones are tasteful. When we have fresh flowers is usually from someone’s garden. The reason for flowers in our church, it makes the church look attractive.
    God created the flowers the same as you and me. Why not bring some of his creation indoors so everyone can enjoy.

  • Jen Butler says on

    At our Church here in England a team of 3 of us use real flowers for our Church displays. I love creating and making designs which people tell us really brightens their day. We have a rota for each week where people write their name next to a Sunday to donate money for flowers that week we let them make request for colours and style of flower, this saves money coming from Church budget. After the service flowers are made into bunches and given to people who are in ill health or need cheering up.

  • Valid observation. I have noticed in some churches that flower arrangements are one of those cultural artifacts that will divide the members as quickly as a vote on carpet color will. In this particular instance, we don’t know if it is an “either/or” or a “both/and.” In other words, just because flowers are displayed does not necessarily mean church funds were used to pay for them. For example, in my home church, the fresh flowers each week are “sponsored” by church members, oftentimes in honor or memory of someone. This way, the church building receives the benefit of fresh flowers, without the use of church funds.
    This could lead us into a follow-on discussion on whether or not people should spend their money on something so materialistic like flowers, versus making a monetary donation to the church as an honorarium (which also happens frequently at my home church), but I’ll assume the flower purchasers are biblical tithers and are choosing to use their remaining funds to provide the flowers.

  • In our church, we have one large artificial flower arrangement. As one who love flowers, I love to see flowers in the sanctuary. But, we are a church that financially support outreach and missions. Keeping the main thing the main thing, flowers are not a priority.

  • David Highfield says on

    One central Maryland church uses only fake flowers because of the pastor’s allergies. I have pictures if you wish them.

  • We sold all our fake flowers and bought a projector. too many flowers equals a funeral home!

      • I had to laugh out loud. Our Australian friend is exactly on target.

        Our church had a “decorations committee” with thousands in the budget for decorations.

        At no time did I ever hear of any of them leading anyone to Christ, coming to the church for outreach visitation, or even bringing a lost person to church.

        Yet, they were wives of leaders in the church and were upheld by men who themselves thought they were “church bosses” and, at the same time, none of whom were ever involved in evangelizing any lost people.

        Some of those women thought they were “interior decorators.” Several of us got a good laugh when at the top of a Christmas decoration was a big willow.

        The space that is used to house the “fake flowers” could be used for Small Group space where the Gospel could be taught.

        Praise God for people with some sense about “keeping the main thing the main thing.”

      • Our church uses live flowers, often from a prior day wedding or given in memory of someone. On Monday they are broken into smaller units and taken to the home bound.

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