Tuesday, May 23, 2006

should preachers stay in the pulpit?

Through the Methodist Blogs Weekly Roundup, I came across this interesting article by Steven Manskar about how preachers should always preach from behind the pulpit. Its called, "If It's Worship Then Stay in The Pulpit." Very thought-provoking article. Here's just a little of it - 3 reasons why preachers should stay behind the pulpit when they preach.

1) The pulpit keeps the preacher in her or his place. The preacher’s task is to help lead the congregation in worshipping God. He or she should not be the center of attention. When the preacher stands in the pulpit he or she is appropriately to the side. This prevents the temptation to walk or stand at the center of the chancel, in front of the Lord’s table which should always be the center of attention.

2) The pulpit represents the preaching office of the church. It is not intended to be a barrier. Rather, it is a symbol of the power and importance of the word. Preachers need to claim the authority, power, and responsibility of their office as heralds of God’s word and good news for the world.

3) The pulpit allows the preacher to use an outline, notes, or manuscript to guide her or his preaching. This will keep the message focused and minimize the tendency to wander and ramble and unnecessarily lengthen the sermon. Not only does the pulpit help to keep the preacher focused on the proclamation of the word, it also helps to keep the people focused on the word and not on the preacher. This is so because the pulpit minimizes the preacher’s movement and is less of a distraction. The word becomes more important than the preacher.

I'm not sure if I agree with him or not. I'd be interested to hear what other folks think.


Cheryl said...

Hmmmm...the old pulpit conflict is revived. I went through this at my church a few years ago, basically "where" the pulpit should be placed. We (Worship Committee) opted to move it down off the chancel and over to the side, with the idea it would take the focus off the traditional, ornate pulpit and make the pastor more a part of the congregation and less "positioned". Well, after the first week, the "oldtimers" moved it back up "Where it was supposed to be". After angry verbal exchanges and several up and down travels, we gave up. Such a silly thing to fight about. Over time, the pulpit was moved back down to allow the use of the chancel for several special programs, and it never went back up! And what's even better, the pastor doesn't stand there to preach, he comes to the center, in front, moves around a little, and I think it is great. It is so much easier to listen and stay focused - at least for me. I can hear the word of God just fine from floor level!!

Jason Woolever said...

it does seem like a crazy thing to make a fuss about. it seems like one of those arguments where you could defend any position you life with a stream of logic.

di dooley said...

i personally like when the pastor comes away from the pulpit. i enjoy a sermon with a little body language and hand gestures when trying to make a point. as far as that making the pastor the center of attention, i disagree. using more emphasis on God's word certainly makes the sermon the focal point and gives more meaning.

i feel that where pastors preach from should not be the issue as much as what they are preaching.

Jason Woolever said...

Di, great point about the use of God's word in preaching. I agree wholeheartedly