The clergy of the Waco District are taking part in a series of workshops on improving the effectiveness of our preaching. Part of yesterday’s session was a discussion of pulpits.
One pastor shared that he had once served as pastor a church in which the pulpit towered “a good 15 feet” above the congregation. We talked about the message conveyed by lifting the preacher, and thus the preached word, so far above the congregation.
As a group we mostly agreed that preaching reaches our congregations better when we are not standing so high above them, as though our word is handed down from on high.
In general we feel this way because we preach a message of Jesus, of God incarnate, who
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant….
By bringing our preaching down out of the tall pulpit, we identify more closely with those to whom we are preaching.
Or at least that is the idea.
I came to realize, though, that sometimes the words and attitudes we convey when we preach can lift us as far from the people as can a tall pulpit. This is not true only in our preaching either; the way we talk to people can creat distance between us and them, or can bring us closer together.
How tall is your pulpit?