Worship at church this past Sunday found me in a bit of a crisis. I do not know why it took this long for it to hit me, but it did.
Here is why:
It is a widely known fact that a church’s style can be identified by simply looking at its pulpit. The entire summation of the evangelical movement as it sprang out of the Reformation has been distilled, with very few exceptions, into five distinct pulpit types.
They are as follows:
Deluxe models are outfitted with wings on both sides which effectively triple the holding capacity and allow the pastor to lean forward with arms on either side for sermon impact. These are often accompanied by organ pipes that resemble some form of artillery.
Tag-team, offset pulpits
If you do actually go to one of these churches, chances are, its founder shook John Calvin’s hand at some point. And you may want to consider adding an “s” to TULIP for “stylish.”
The one-handed, movable pulpit
Chosen to be inconspicuous, this pulpit does not distract from the themed stage scenery or this week’s video clip for the ongoing sermon series. (Podcasts available on the website.)
A glass podium
In theory, this one is similar to the micro pulpit mentioned above, but it has a certain pizzaz that its predecessor lacks. These come in all shapes and sizes and the temptation to engrave them with some frosted Christian emblem (such as a cross, dove, or the Church’s new logo) is too much for many. Subtle and see-through, these pulpits say classy, but they do it in a whisper.
The only thing on stage that is prettier than the podium is the man behind it. And he has to be… he has nowhere to hide. This pastor is Mr. Confident and his pulpit says, “Don’t look at me… look at him.”
No pulpit at all
Dressed to the nines, this guy is the only decoration the stage needs. The next 23 minutes are full of catchy lines (feel free to twitter them) and great smiles.
Now, my crisis came when I realized our church was nowhere near any of these categories. Instead of a stage, we have a tiny concrete building, and instead of a pulpit, we have a prayer mat. The only instruments in our church are our hands, and the service is as much about the prayers of the congregation as it is the sermon provided by the speaker. Yet, every Sunday, we meet with God in that little building, sitting on our mats. God is worshipped by the clapping of our hands and the songs from our hearts, despite the lack of a sound system. God’s Word is proclaimed and His name is exalted.
I guess you simply can not judge a church by its pulpit…