Fake Flowers and Churches

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.
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  • In the past, we had a budget for altar flowers, so there were fresh flowers each week. If someone wanted to have them for a special occasion (in honor or in memory of), they covered the cost that week. Since the cost of those arrangments continued to rise, we went to a system where we only had the flowers when someone signed up for the date. We tried to use fake flower arrangments on other weeks, but it was difficult to find or have arrangements made that looked right, so now we only have flowers if someone chooses that date. The fresh flowers do serve a purpose, however. We have volunteers come in on Monday to make vases to take to members in the hospitals or in nursing homes.

  • I fear that any church that still thinks having flowers, fresh or fake, as decor, has more problems than flowers. This is a dated look, which I’m sure comes out in other aspects of their ministry. And I agree with Thomas above. If you decorate for men, women will still love it. But if you decorate for women, it will feel like a feminine church, and men will feel like outsiders. (I love flowers too–outside where they grow.)

  • Mark Spraggins says on

    We have a lady in the church that makes the “artificial arrangements” each month. It usually has a seasonal theme. She pays for the supplies herself, and sometimes asks the pastor what he thinks about an arrangement for the occasion. She uses dried flowers and accessories, as well as Silk and plastic. They never look cheap and always look good. My favorite 2 were when she used real dried wheat in a fall arrangement, and cotton stalks in an arrangement. Bottom line, most people don’t pay much attention to them, but would notice if there was was no arrangement on the altar table. All cultures are not the same, and certainly “fake” would not be ok in some places, but I would say it’s cultural or a preference, not a Heaven or hell issue.

  • Betsy Brack says on

    Our church subscribed to the same fresh flower policy that many of the others have described – the arrangements are usually in honor or in memory of someone and the family pays for the arrangement. However, we have a committee that takes the arrangement each week and divided it into individual vases which they then deliver to our home bound members, providing them with personal visits and a little reminder that they are loved and special. I’m grateful for that ministry.

  • Christina says on

    The church I work at has fresh flowers when members sign up to purchase them in honor of someone or in memory of someone. The florist we use gives us a very good deal on the flowers. When we have a Sunday that no one has signed up for we use floral arrangements that another church gifted to us. They are very pretty and look very real. So real one member asked me who delivered flowers to the church one Sunday!

  • I have actually been thinking about this very thing that last several weeks, as I sat and looked at the fake flowers on the communion table. Are flowers the focus? If we need something on the table, I would much rather see God’s Word prominently displayed.

    In the church in which I grew up, we had live flowers each week. They were always placed in honor or memory of someone, which HAD to be noted in the worship bulletin. However, I have a problem with dedicating anything in worship to anyone except God. For instance, I don’t think it is appropriate to dedicate a song to a person. I don’t think it is appropriate for our “worship services” to focus on people, or holidays, or anything other than God Almighty. But I guess that is a discussion for another day.

  • Jacob Brothers says on

    Our church has a beautiful weekly fresh flower display provided by various members who have a heart and gifting for this. After the service each week, the flowers are split up between visitors who drop in on either guests or bereaved church members, or any particular people who are needing visited and ministered to. This and the cards that church members make and gift go a long way to show the love and care of the saviour.

  • Rocket says on

    I attend a small church in Australia. When I moved to this church a few years ago I really took notice of the beautiful flower arrangement that appeared each week in front of the pulpit. It turned out that they were the work of a member of the church who was a florist. My personal opinion was that they added beauty to otherwise fairly lacklustre surroundings. Recently another lady took over supplying the flowers, but she makes silk flowers, which are still pretty but don’t have the pizzazz of the real floral arrangements. I’m not sure, but I think she does this as a gift to the church, which I have no problem with. Flowers look nice, but I agree with those who think that if there has to be a choice between flowers and spending the money on evangelism tools, the flowers should not be the priority.

    • Rowena Dunk says on

      At our church(also in Australia) over time the amount of floral decoration has decreased due to the decreasing size of people’s gardens also that women are working and do not have time for such things during precious weekends. Now we are faced with possible use of pre-arranged artificial flowers and I have been wondering about ‘maintenance’, which it would appear is an issue. I would prefer to go with potted greenery as people do in the tropics, which is also part of the Creation. This is a slow conversion experience. Whether people know they are there or not – one of the most observant of people was a single male, who never would join our Roster but we had another who grew orchids and brought them down in the pot.

  • Thomas Iverson says on

    I love flowers! I really do, but let me take a different route in this discussion. Many things in our churches are done for the female gender. I think flowers fit that category. I think when the male gender attends church they often encounter a world slanted toward females. I sometimes wonder if more men would attend church if we made our churches more appealing to them. Even our terminology is often slanted toward the feminine. For example, “have a personal relationship with Jesus”. What do most males think of? The Bible never once says to have a “personal relationship with Jesus”. The Bible does say to “place our faith,” “believe,” or “trust in Jesus as our Savior”.
    I love the ladies in our church and respect them, but perhaps more men would attend church if we made church more of a welcoming place for men as well. Maybe we need some antique cars, or taxadermy deer heads as well.

    My purpose is not to start a gender war, but let’s face it, most men would rather something different than roses. Just to consider.

    • We have often had a row of church “widows”, some of whom had men at home that just wouldn’t come. For Fatrher’s Day, we would buy simple hand tools for them (screwdrivers, hammers, pliars, who doesn’t always need those? ) and live plants for the Mothers on Mother’s Day. (including tomatoes and other vegetables).

  • Elizabeth Vreugdenhil says on

    In one church (in Australia) that I attended the flowers were arranged by a woman with great artistic talent. When the sermon was boring or irrelevant in may opinion, I would enjoy the beauty of the flowers as an act of worship.

  • In our church, the flower arrangements are put there by volunteers who just want to see the church look nice. The church does not pay for the decorations. Some church members just feel that making the church look nice is honoring God and His house – so it’s important enough to them to contribute the decorations. It’s not taking any money away from other ministries.

  • I think something is lost from the original intent when artificial flowers are used. Real flowers are a reminder that “the flower fades, but the word of God endures forever.” The aroma they give off even while they are dying are a reminder that even as we pass from life to death, an aroma goes up to God that is death to life.

    I have, for example, grown a bit weary of the picture of the Christmas ornament that is an abstract of a snowman, which is a representation of a man only made out of snow. When the symbols of things replace the real things, something is lost.

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