Tell everyone God’s message. Be ready at all times to do whatever is needed. Tell people what they need to do, tell them when they are doing wrong, and encourage them. Do this with great patience and careful teaching.2 Timothy 4:2
My first memory of a pulpit is from Folkestone Baptist Church, the vibrant downtown faith community where I grew up from 1956 through 1975.
The building, sadly, is no longer a place of worship (You can read what happened in this post from our recent UK adventure, “Taking the Family Home“), and while many of its architectural features remain intact the pulpit is not one of them.
The front of the sanctuary featured a raised semicircular stage that housed the choir and covered the baptismal pool. Then the pulpit rose a good eight to ten feet above the choir – much like the example below.
The massive wooden edifice – accessible via a spiral stair – stood like a fortified turret, suspending the preacher in mid-air between the three sided balcony and those gathered downstairs. My mother, always the pundit, described the pastor’s position as “Ten feet above contradiction.”
Among the many fantasies that played out in my mind during worship (and especially the sermons) was one of the choir falling through the floorboards – en masse – and into the baptismal pool. Another, related, called for the Reverend Pike to execute a cannonball from the pulpit into the water below.
The word is central:
When I joined the Presbyterian Church I learned the theological significance of having the pulpit front and center. The proclamation of the gospel – the good news, the word – is foundational to worship. The pulpit, the communion table, the baptismal font, and a cross are all indispensable furnishings in a sanctuary, but the message is central.
I have witnessed Rebekah preach effectively from lectern, music stand, table, stool, shelf, megachurch made-for-tv transparent plexiglass podium, and many versions of the traditional pulpit. Where the preacher’s notes sit has no effect on the power of God’s good word, but you can’t beat designing the right piece of furniture when it comes to crafting a functional, and inspirational worship space.
To that end, this weekend our church (Hudson Memorial) dedicated a beautiful new pulpit. There have been several versions over the 65 year history, but this one is just about perfect.
Other than being aesthetically pleasing, the new pulpit has an adjustable height and wheels too – making it both flexible and portable. (I could pen an entire post on the theological implications of wheels on a pulpit… or maybe roller-skates on a preacher!!!)
So go for it, pastor Mac. Speak God’s good word like the message is as snazzy and new and inspirational and accessible and critical and life-changing as the day Jesus stood next to a well in Samaria and said, “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
The message of Jesus; stylish and on wheels. Not just portable but potable too. Life charged and brand new. – DEREK
Thanks. I’ve preached in quite a few, even rejected some and preached from the floor. Mike at FPCB does that as well. Come to think of it, I might’ve got it from him.
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