Glass or Wood? Depends On What You’re Hiding.

It may have never crossed your mind, but for some it is a question more important than whether or not someone chooses to be a Calvinist…

Glass or Wood?

What am I talking about? Pulpits. Sacred desks. Lecturns. The piece of furniture behind which preachers stand and do battle with the devil, not to mention anoint the blessed on the front row with sanctified spittle.

Believe it or not, many have nearly gone to fists over whether the wooden pulpit should be replaced with a more modern, see-through, beautifully-etched glass one. I don’t know why it is such a big deal, except for pastors who might feel totally naked with nothing to hide behind.

On the other hand, glass pulpits have one major disadvantage – you can’t put stuff in them. If you don’t think that is a problem, then you have never looked inside one. Or, maybe you have never been in a service that required the items contained behind those sacred doors.

I’ll never forget the first time I took a pastorate and decided to inventory the items in the pulpit. I opened the doors, sat down on the floor, and quickly realized that this was a place few ever saw. If they had, they may have claimed some of the items in there for themselves, if not for the owners (which had probably been buried in the church cemetery 10 years ago).

There were old bulletins, vials of olive oil, broken pencils and pens with dry ink. There were 20-year-old mother’s day poems, and stale breath mints. In one corner was a single gold earring, a half-stick of hard chewing gum, and a dead ant. To one side was a hymnal with pages missing and a Gideon Bible. To the other side were the minutes from a 1980 business meeting and a cassette tape. There were even old illustrations typed on 3×5 cards, a laminated obituary, three Happy Meal toys, and ten broken crayons.

None of those things would look good in front of a preacher’s knees, so a see-through pulpit would be unacceptable. Even if I had a big, rotating, golden skeleton of the earth behind me when I preached, someone would get distracted. You never see Joel Olsteen standing behind stacks of paper and old candy, do you? NO!

But if we are going to keep the old pulpits in many of our churches, shouldn’t we make better use of them? Why hide away useless memorabilia, tasteless mints, and dead bugs? Why not make it a tool shed? Why not store things that could actually be used in an emergency?

Here are some suggestions:

1. A cooler. Wouldn’t that be more convenient than having a deacon bring you water that sits out and gets warm during the message?

2. An air horn. This would be to wake up the 3rd-shifters that nod off in the service.

3. Altoids.

4. Kittens. You would never have to worry about losing anyone’s attention again. When the message starts to get dull, bring out a kitten and everybody wins.

5. Flame Thrower. Would be good for self-defense and an awesome illustrative tool for evangelistic services.

6. A Fire Extinguisher. For when illustrations go wrong. Safety first, you know.

7. Sermons that Work. For those days when nothing else seems to do the trick, a book of pre-written messages could help keep the preacher from looking like he didn’t study.

Well, whichever you choose for your church, just keep one thing in mind…

2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

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4 Comments

Filed under baptist, General Observations, ministry, Preaching, Southern Baptist

4 responses to “Glass or Wood? Depends On What You’re Hiding.

  1. Forget not those who just do away with the pulpit! Our current church home has no pulpit. We meet in an elementery school gymnasium with a stage. Our old church home used a wood pulpit shaped like a cross, and it had no cabinets or drawers or anything.

    I once attended a church which had an old, wood pulpit … which sat off to the side and was rarely ever used! I remember looking inside it one day, and it was a lot like what you described. It just had more hymnals (which the church did not use anymore … what a shame!).

  2. How about a tv tuned into ESPN–Pastors are often sports fans, too.

  3. Pingback: Snow day snippets. {10.8.11} « Grow Up!

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