What does your pulpit look like? Pulpits come in many different shapes, sizes, and are made with all sorts of different material. Some pulpits are just small music stands that have been repurposed. Others are more modern and made with a see-through material. The most impressive pulpit my eyes have ever seen is located in Sioux City, Iowa. This is the pulpit of Rev. Cary Gordon. It is a massive pulpit where you can take a few steps and still be within the pulpit. The pulpit resembles a mini-fort and surely is an intimidating structure for all guest speakers. Though it is a fun exercise to describe the physical appearance of different pulpits, what I really am aiming at from the original question is about the doctrine and authority that comes from behind the pulpit.
Though it is not the only thing to consider when looking at a church, I believe there should be a huge emphasis upon what is preached from the pulpit and the way a doctrine is preached from the pulpit. Today, I believe many of ills in our Christian culture are directly tied to the shape our pulpits are in. I believe two of the greatest issues in the church today are Biblical literacy and identity, both of these issues reflect back upon our pulpits.
The first issue is Biblical literacy. Understand I am not saying that knowledge or information in general are an issue for the church today. We live in the information age and the age of celebrity pastors. This has caused many to have great knowledge and to amass a significant amount of information. The knowledge and information that most people have today are the bullet point verses that their favorite pastor or theological position (through a Google search) has given them. These are not inherently bad things to know or amass information about, but the issue is that these points are often given outside of context. I am not speaking exhaustively, but in general on this issue. Many people in our church pews today can give all ten talking points to defend their position on a theological manner, but couldn’t tell you what the content is in the chapter of the verses that they are quoting to prove their point. Christianity today has become mainly talking points instead of seeking to know Christ more by reading His word. This is a reflection of the majority of American pulpits today. The preachers today want to build a narrative that proves their favorite doctrinal position or mimics their idolized celebrity pastor, but they have no interest in preaching the whole counsel of God’s word so that the people in the pews may know Christ more! Think about it, we have systematized the Bible into ten doctrines and then a pastor picks two or three of those doctrines to repeatedly prove his point of view. Even if the pastor is correct in his conclusion, there is no denying that the Bible has much more than ten teachings (doctrines) and that each Christian needs to hear the full counsel of God’s word to truly grow.
The second issue that greatly reflects our pulpits today is the issue of identity. I believe this gives an image of the authority that is coming from the pulpit. A pastor has great authority, but this authority is tied to the word of God; namely to live the word of God and to preach the word of God. As we look out at Christianity (and our culture as a whole) I believe we find many people in an identity crisis, they truly have no idea who they are. This is seen by the way they are tossed to and fro by different personalities behind a pulpit as they quickly adopt the favorite doctrines of their new found celebrity preacher crush. When a pastor is properly preaching the word of God by boldly and unapologetically preaching the whole counsel of the Bible, and when he is living the word that he is preaching (backing his talk up with his walk), you will find proper authority. This proper authority lays the foundation for those who are listening to know what the standard is in their life and allows them to have a consistent healthy diet on God’s Word. The identity crisis that many Christians today face is due to the fact that they do not have a consistent standard to hear or a consistent standard bearer to follow. This once again reflects upon the pulpits of our day.
The question we started with was, “What does your pulpit look like?” I believe this is the question we all need to be answering. Those who are behind the pulpit need to answer this question to see if they match what is expected in God’s Word and those in the pews need to answer so they can hold that pulpit accountable. Is the whole counsel of God’s word being preached? Is there proper authority that is coming from that pulpit? Is the pulpit in shambles or is it a massive fort that protects and equips you for the spiritual war we are in?