Lowering the Pulpit: A Theology of the Pulpit
Pulpits at one time were sturdy, large, and central in Evangelical Churches. In Lutheran Churches, where they are off to the side, they are big and tall.
We need a theology of the pulpit. The Word of God is above us. The preacher should explain and proclaim and defend Scripture as true and holy. He or she is a servant of the Word and should be a deep student of its truth (2 Tim 2:15). There is, therefore, good reason for the pulpit to be central and raised up, since Holy Scripture is central and exalted.
I recently preached in a small church with a high pulpit. (The entire liturgy was the deepest I have heard outside of an Anglican Church.) There was no room to prowl around up there, as I sometimes do. That would mean falling off the raised square. It was a bit awkward, but the idea is strong. Too much of preaching is personality-driven, consumerist, and informal. The authority of the Scripture is eclipsed by the personality of the speaker, who must be interesting, dynamic, a good salesperson. This is deeply wrong.
We are creatures of place and symbol. A low, small, pulpit (or even a music stand, which I hate with a perfect hatred) does not communicate authority or transcendence. Of course, a bad preacher in a good pulpit is a bad preacher still. Yet, the pulpit itself speaks, both to the congregation (not an audience) and to the preacher. If you climb up into it, you had better be ready to deliver Spirit-led, biblically faithful words of truth.