#4 — Location of the Pulpit

In most Protestant churches, it’s always the center of attention. Front and center, the pulpit is the center of all eyes, all ears. In mega-churches, the stage has replaced the pulpit, but on the stage, there is a lectern of some sort, making it clear the high point of the service is the pastor’s sermon.

Willow Creek Community Church

Willow Creek Community Church

Protestants sometimes suggest that Christ is not the center of the Catholic Church, but it’s hard for them to make such an argument when the pastor is the center of theirs. The sermon is the center of the church service, and so the pastor’s personality, wit, or erudition is what ultimately brings congregants to this or that church. In mega-churches, it’s often a combination of the show and the sermon.

Catholic Church in Krakow

Catholic Church in Krakow

In a Catholic church, the pulpit is always to the side. The priest’s homily is not the reason people are in attendance, and as such, the pulpit is tastefully moved to one side.

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5 thoughts on “#4 — Location of the Pulpit

  1. Celesta Sargent says:

    At Aldersgate United Methodist Church (my church), the pulpit is on the gospel side and the lecturn is on the epistle side. Probably about half of the churches I’ve been in have this arrangement and about half have the pulpit in the middle.

    • gls says:

      Perhaps I was thinking more of non-denominational churches, particularly mega-churches. Still, most Protestant churches have the lectern toward the middle. Certainly in the mega churches, it’s the show/speaker that is the center of attention, even if they’re making calls for more devotion to God. (Perhaps it’s relational: the closer to Catholicism via the Reformation historically, the more to the side the lectern.)

      • Bill Phelps says:

        I think we need to define what you mean by “Protestant” churches. I think most mainline Protestant churches (at least the vast majority I have been in) have the pulpit on the Gospel side, while some also have a lectern on the epistle side.

      • gls says:

        Perhaps I’m thinking more of non-denominational Evangelical-leaning churches.

  2. KG says:

    Most Protestant pulpits are in the middle for a specific reason. The center of the Catholic Mass is the Sacrament. The divine interaction is mediated through the sacrifice which is why the altar is central. This is where it is thought that God “meets” with His people. Although many no longer understand it the preaching of the Word of God was the central point of divine mediation in a Protestant service. It is in the preaching of the Word that God interacts and “meets” with His people in a true Protestant Church. The preacher’s wit and style are not what is being emphasized. Protestant preaching was to be expositional and so the Word is what is mediated. You rightfully point out that in the 19th century an auditorium style began to predominate and is now most noticeable in megachurches. Many of us Protestants also see this as a corruption of our theological principals.

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