Preaching From the Pulpit

I don’t like preaching from the pulpit.
And by pulpit, I mean the one that most churches have that are large and bulky and sort of covers all your sides, but your butt.
The only good thing that I, personally, could think of preaching from the pulpit is that it is pretty sturdy and probably can protect me somewhat from an angry congregation who was not particularly happy with what the word of God was for them on that Sunday. I figure, if I duck, the pulpit will be sturdy enough to protect me from flying shoes.

I can’t help but feel a bit… trapped when I’m in the pulpit. Maybe it’s an overreaction of my ridiculous brain and the claustrophobia that I think I made myself believe I have. But I feel like I can’t move.
I’m also feeling that this ordination process and the BOOM is looking for certain pastors that fit in a certain mold and have been vocal about not wanting to be put in this box. Maybe it’s another irrational fear that I may have. But being in the pulpit is the closest literal thing of being put into a box I can get.

While the pulpit may offer somewhat protection from wayward shoes, it also separates me from the congregation. I’m behind this big bulky thing, and the intimate connection in telling God’s story and weaving of our own seems to be missing. “I’m up here behind this official pulpit and you just sit there and listen.” There’s a disconnect for me.

I’m not saying we should all forgo the use of the pulpit. I like when (some) preachers preach from the pulpit. But it’s just not for me. To each his 0r her own, I guess, right?
As long as God’ words are being preached faithfully, it doesn’t really matter, right?

6 thoughts on “Preaching From the Pulpit

  1. That’s exactly my thought, especially the part about being claustrophobic & even moreso the part about separation. I am already the “acceptable outsider” in my community by virtue of being the UM pastor, assigned to my post by a(nother outsider) Bishop, and I don’t need one more barrier between me and the people I serve, the people to whom I am trying to bring Jesus Christ.

    My delivery is much better out from behind the pulpit. But really, like you said, if Jesus Christ is preached faithfully, people are hearing eternal life-giving words. And the pulpit is just furniture.

  2. Right! I like it when you are out front. I agree it is more intimate and easier to connect with what you are saying.
    By the way, I love your messages and look forward to the Sundays you preach.

  3. Pulpits are not essential to preaching.

    I do think there is something useful in caging a preacher a bit, though. We are not there to display ourselves. We are messengers on an errand.

    That said, John Wesley often preached without a pulpit – as he was banned from many parish churches. Far be it from any Methodist to tell you pulpit preaching is the only way to go.

  4. I agree, and yet in the times when I used to step up into the pulpit to preach there was a weightier sense of the task at hand. It is a place of authority from which to proclaim that which must be heard. When ordained, the bishop says “Take thou the authority”, which is modeled after Jesus “all authority has been given to me and I give it to you.”

    So, while I preach in the open with notes on a music stand, I wonder if there is something of authority missing – not the bad authoritativeness some can display, but a sense that this is not just a word from a guy standing in the front of the room?

    When I went to Boston with a choir from a previous church I remember standing in every pulpit in every church we visited – some 200 years old. There was something about that spot, that “box” that held some meaning.

    Yeah, I know authority is not held in a wooden box in the front of a church, I’m just saying there seems to be something there.

  5. I really like hearing you preach, no matter where you are. If I had to vote, I’d choose having the ministers preach from the floor so that they could move about with passion. A sermon from the heart cannot be boxed in, but if it helps you get your message across standing level with the congregation, then that’s where you should preach.
    I’m looking forward to your next message for us. I always come away with something to ponder about the Christian life I am committed to live.

  6. Oh dear, I seem to be in a minority here. For one thing I prefer to hear and contemplate a preacher’s words rather than watch him or her wandering about the Chapel; one man’s “passion” can be another’s “Histrionics”! Secondly, the layout in our little rural Chapel is such that if the preacher preached from the floor about half the congregation wouldn’t be able to see him/her properly should they wish to, whereas in the pulpit all eye contact and expression-reading can be mutually achieved. More mundane and utilitarian is that the PA system is miked from the pulpit. I know there are radio lapel mics, but some preachers seem to think that any request to wear one is a slight on their enunciation skills, which is not the point at all, merely that, if the voice doesn’t go through the system, the induction loop – enabling hearing aid wearers to hear at a normal voice level (and which was very expensive to install and required by law in the UK) is rendered useless. For these people, no amount of “preacher-shout” will get through to them, and for the preacher to try makes life uncomfortable for those without hearing difficulties. Lastly, as someone said earlier, if a preacher feels truly unable to preach in a pulpit then fair enough, but compromise with the general concensus of the Chapel should at least be sought (maybe those pesky radio mics again!). After all, as someone else said earlier, the preacher is there to serve his/her congregation as well as the Lord…

    I guess what it comes down to is that it’s all subjective on all sides of the discussion.

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