Of Lecterns and Pulpits

Lecterns and pulpits are worth thinking about.  After all, we so easily take them for granted.  Perhaps you’ve always had one, perhaps you’ve always seen preachers preach from behind one.  However, if our goal is to effectively communicate God’s Word to people, we need to consider every aspect of our preaching.  So here are a few thoughts on these pieces of ecclesial furniture.

Don’t hide. I suppose this is the basic thought in this post.  Don’t hide.  Remember that communication includes body language, which means that people need to be able to see your body language.  Be careful not to slouch or lean on the pulpit.  If they can’t see a significant percentage of you, then you probably need to elevate your energy levels to appear normal in your expression.  Be deliberate in letting your gestures show above and beyond the pulpit (reach higher and wider).  Seriously consider coming out from the castle!  Let the pulpit hold your notes, but don’t feel obligated to stay there yourself.

Do familiarize. Make sure everything is ready ahead of time.  If it is adjustable, adjust it appropriately (which doesn’t mean it should be up to your armpits just because you’re tall!)  Make sure any notes you use will be visible (why are some lecterns at such a high angle?)  Make sure you have a glass of water if you need it, etc.  If there is anything more technical than a glass of water, make sure you know how it works ahead of time – any light, controls for visual media, etc.  Obviously if you’ve preached from the same pulpit for a while, then this isn’t as necessary, but it’s always worth double checking before the meeting.

Don’t criticize. You may understand the negative impact of “barrier furniture” to communication, but be very careful not to criticize it.  Even if it holds your notes in a near vertical position, makes your water glass nearly inaccessible, blocks your listeners from hearing “with their eyes” and looks like a wooden battle ship, or upended casket, or whatever . . . keep these thoughts to yourself.  You can move to the side, or make the best of the situation from behind there.  But if you give voice to these thoughts you will not come across well, and the person whose father built the monstrosity in 1924, or who donated the money to buy it in honor of their spouse’s homegoing . . . well, you know how they’ll feel!

2 thoughts on “Of Lecterns and Pulpits

  1. I prefer to preach in or behind a pulpit/lectern. I find wandering about too distracting both as a preacher and when I’m in the pew on holidays e.g., the movement distracts. I think the preacher can preach a more dignified sermon in or behind the pulpit/lectern and people can better focus on the content of the sermon.

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