By Steve Antunes
When it comes to interior elements in a worship space, a pulpit speaks perhaps the loudest.
A church’s pulpit is the focal point of the platform — during service times and beyond. It’s far more than just a place for the pastor to rest notes, a Bible and an iPad; it should also be a reflection of the church’s message and values through its style, quality and artwork. For this reason, it serves as one of your most important church furnishing decisions.
So many choices!
There are pulpits available for all budgets and church decors. So, where do you start?
As you begin the search, keep in mind that this piece is an expression of the church’s identity to attendees, the pastoral team and guest speakers. As such, the immediate draw of the lowest-cost option isn’t the best route.
Lower-cost options include “assemble-it-yourself” wood or plastic lecterns. And, as with most things, spending less up front ends up costing more in the long term. The inferior construction and materials of a bargain pulpit lead to more frequent replacement, as the piece breaks or
As you move up the price scale, the pulpit benefits from better materials — glass and higher-quality wood, for example. Also, such pulpits usually arrive fully and professionally assembled. (In other words, an enthusiastic church volunteer — armed with bad instructions and a hammer — won’t be necessary.)
Other important selection criteria
Castors — These are a definite must. Today’s platforms need to be flexible and quickly rearranged. Extended breaks during the service to move the pulpit around the platform can be eliminated with a rolling pulpit. Worship teams and youth groups are then free to use the platform without the need for a moving crew.
Castors (yes, again) — Pulpits without castors are typically dragged when moved. This places an extreme amount of strain on the furnishing’s joints, causing the joints to loosen over time. The result is a creaky, loose-feeling pulpit. Wheels do all the work and ensure a long-lasting, sway-free piece.
The right height and width — A pulpit that’s too large looks like a whale in a kiddie pool. On the other hand, a pulpit that’s too small resembles a scarecrow in a farmer’s field. A good consultant can guide you in choosing the piece that’s right for both the pastor and the platform.
Sturdiness. Anyone who has spoken behind a cheap pulpit knows it. Look for a piece that’s sturdy. If you’re confident in your pulpit, you’re free to lean on it and focus on your sermon.
Longevity of design — An all-steel pulpit might look cool today, but is it something that will stand the test of time? What might match the decor of today might be dated in
Space for a glass of water. You can’t preach if you have a dry throat!
The clear choice
Today, the trend is toward transparent furnishings made of glass or plastics. These allow members to see everything at the front of the church, without any blind spots. Their transparent nature opens up the platform and allows light to illuminate the area.
A transparent furnishing is also a chameleon, blending itself into its surroundings. Unlike wood or metal options, this allows you to update your decor multiple times without worrying if the pulpit will match. Often, this eliminates the need to buy a new pulpit with each sanctuary “refresh.”
As a glass pulpit manufacturer, I’m a bit biased toward the quality and longevity of glass as a construction material, as opposed to materials such as plastic. Glass is more scratch-resistant than plastic, doesn’t discolor over time, and provides a very solid feel and an elegant sheen. (After all, how often do we put plastic windows in churches?)
A branding opportunity
Over the past several years, the importance of church branding has come to the forefront. Branding creates familiarity and a sense of belonging for existing members. It also introduces the church’s identity to new members.
To this end, the front of your pulpit is a valuable piece of real estate. High-quality artwork is, therefore, important. For churches that offer video broadcasts or live streaming of services, the constant presence of the logo serves both as advertizing and as a time-saving feature for post-production, eliminating the need to add the church’s name. The space is there, so use it wisely.
Often times, worshippers won’t notice if the church carpet or paint is a little older. But, if the pulpit looks old, worn and dated, it will stand out — and not in a good way.
Is your sanctuary looking tired, like you’re on a limited budget? If so, a new pulpit is often the quickest and most cost-effective way to refresh your platform.
Steve Antunes is a pulpit specialist with Prestige Pulpits in Sault Ste. Marie, MI.