Elements of Effective Sermon Delivery

". . . a quick, helpful guide to some of the practical aspects of effective sermon delivery. I thought some of  you might benefit from it as well."

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pvawter's picture

This is the second time recently that I have heard someone mention the central location of the pulpit. I know there's some history involved, but what's the deal with that? Is there some reason not to move the pulpit off-center? (I ask from my 6-feet-right-of-center pulpit.)

Jim's picture

pvawter wrote:

This is the second time recently that I have heard someone mention the central location of the pulpit. I know there's some history involved, but what's the deal with that? Is there some reason not to move the pulpit off-center? (I ask from my 6-feet-right-of-center pulpit.)

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Ron Bean's picture

What a great article! 

I see too many preachers who would get an A in theology but and F in public speaking. They ramble, stutter, go off-topic, .........

As to pulpit location, it is my understanding that the purpose was to use architecture to show the importance of preaching in the  church. In most Roman Catholic churches the pulpit is to the side and the altar, and therefore the Mass, is the central focus. In many typical old New England churches, the pulpit was not only central, it was raised and suspended over the congregation. I fairly sure that was the case in Spurgeon's church as well. (I'm sure my friend will find a pictorial example.)

When T.T. Shields became the pastor of Jarvis Street  Baptist Church in Toronto, the choir was located a bit lower but in front of the pulpit. It was moved to behind the pulpit in his first year. 

"Some things are of that nature as to make one's fancy chuckle, while his heart doth ache." John Bunyan

Larry Nelson's picture

 

Something to bear in mind is that before sound-amplification equipment existed, the placement of a pulpit was dictated at least as strongly by acoustical concerns as by anything else.  Today, it may be positioned based on sight lines, or on theological implications, but back when a preacher's ability to be clearly heard was based more on lung capacity than sound-system wattage, optimal acoustical placement was a more prominent consideration.

Bert Perry's picture

I really like how he keeps the whole deal simple; all too often, one gets huge lists of do this don't do that and all.

Concur with Ron on the centrality of preaching and the pulpit.  Be gentle about moving things--people get attached of course--but as the church is convinced of the centrality of the preaching of the Word, so should the pulpit move to the center.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Bert Perry's picture

Larry Nelson wrote:

 

Something to bear in mind is that before sound-amplification equipment existed, the placement of a pulpit was dictated at least as strongly by acoustical concerns as by anything else.  Today, it may be positioned based on sight lines, or on theological implications, but back when a preacher's ability to be clearly heard was based more on lung capacity than sound-system wattage, optimal acoustical placement was a more prominent consideration.

It's worth noting that from an accoustic principle--they use the same differential equations used in electromagnetics, by and large--the best place for the speaker, as it were, is generally in a central location.  The large rectangular churches of the past act more or less as a waveguide.  

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

pvawter's picture

To be clear, I'm the one who moved the pulpit and for purely functional reasons. I wonder if that makes me a Convergentist.

Bert Perry's picture

We've got not only "pulpit in the wrong place", but also "change".  Paul, this looks really, really bad....you sure I didn't see you on I-90 on the way to Sturgis in August?  I bet there's an NIV (2010) in your library, too.  I'll email you the secret sign and you can join the rest of us at the next Convergence meeting.  You will need to decipher the secret code to discover the location; QBB Nosbig Bob Gib, LA Rutaced. 

Seriously, to modify something I wrote before, there is obviously no Biblical imperative that the pulpit be in the middle, and we could also argue that putting it in the middle doesn't just put the preaching at the center of attention, but also the preacher.  In our age of domineering CEO wannabees in the pulpit, something we might contemplate.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Rob Fall's picture

HSBC had both a pulpit and a lectern on the platform.  The pastor at the time liked the arrangement as it meant female speakers would speak from the lectern and not his pulpit.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..