Saturday, September 27, 2014

Tiny Pulpits


A few months back I was rummaging through a closet at church and I discovered a tiny pulpit. It was amateurishly hand made from simple pine boards and plywood. My first thought was this is for a very short preacher. Or perhaps someone made it so children could play church. I was curious so measured it. It was 23 inches from the ground to the top lip. I discovered later that due to lack of Sunday School classroom space, someone, many years ago, had been forced to teach their class in the back corner of the sanctuary. So he made the short pulpit, placed it in the seat of probably the 4th pew from the back of the church and used it as a lectern from which he taught his class who sat in the three back pews of the church.

My junk closet discovery is physically the tiniest pulpit I have ever seen. But I am afraid I have seen other pulpits that in reality are smaller than this one. In ministerial terms to say someone occupies a large pulpit means they preach from a place of prominence and great influence. It might mean they preach to a large church. In this sense the size of the pulpit defines the size of the pulpiteer. In a more fair world the pulpiteer would define the size of the pulpit but it does not always work that way.

In terms of what I have just described I have never occupied what I would call a large pulpit, though I have occupied some that were larger than the one I currently occupy. But I have tried to use the pulpit properly, though I am sure I have sometimes failed to do so. I have tried not to think about the size of the pulpit. Instead I have tried to focus on and judge myself as the pulpiteer. I may have a small pulpit but I do not want to be a small pulpiteer.

Ever since I found the tiny pulpit in the church junk closet I have been mulling over this thought. The question I keep asking myself is “what makes, or what determines, a tiny pulpit”? Or to ask it another way “what makes or determines a large pulpit”? I have thought of about 15 answers to that question and each answer has merit. I am not through exploring this question but here is my thought for today. The size of the pulpit is determined by the heart and soul and character of the pulpiteer who occupies the pulpit. If the pulpiteer does not believe in and have passion for the truth that he or she proclaims they are small pulpiteers and have made their pulpit small. And if they have no love in their hearts for the people they preach to then they are indeed little preachers occupying a tiny pulpit.

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