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Pulpit Purchasing Considerations
By: Steve Antunes

When church members walk into the sanctuary, chances are the first thing they see is your pulpit. If it appears cheap, old, worn-out or tired, that impacts on their perception of your platform and possibly the success of your ministry. On the other hand, if you have an elegant, well-crafted pulpit with artwork that beautifully identifies your church, it becomes so much more than just a place for the pastor to rest notes, Bible and iPad.  It is now a focal point of your platform both during and outside of service times. For this reason, it serves as one of your most important church furnishing decisions.

With so many choices today, how does a church pick the right pulpit? Here are some key things to consider:

Don’t Go for the Cheapest
My suggestion is to avoid the lowest cost option. As with most things, spending less upfront ends up costing more. Lower cost Pulpits include “assemble yourself” wood or plastic models. The inferior construction and materials of these “bargain pulpits” leads to more frequent replacemen,t as the piece quickly breaks or wears out.  Remember that the pulpit is a reflection of the church’s identity to attendees, the pastoral team and guest speakers. Something that is held together with duct tape may not be the image you want to present.

As you move up the price scale, pulpits benefit from better materials such as glass and higher quality wood and also customization options. Also, better pulpits usually arrive fully and professionally assembled. In other words, an enthusiastic church volunteer with bad instructions and a hammer won’t be needed.

Build Materials
What type of pulpit should you get? 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. 

A transparent furnishing offers the benefit of being a chameleon, blending itself into its surroundings. Unlike wood or metal options, this allows you to update your décor multiple times without worrying if the pulpit will match.  This will eliminate the need to buy a new pulpit with each sanctuary refresh. 

As a glass pulpit manufacturer, I am biased toward the quality and longevity of glass as a construction material as opposed to materials such as plastics. 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?

Just the Right Size
Choosing a pulpit should be based on the size of both the platform and the user. Placing a wide pulpit on a small platform makes it look like a whale in a kiddie pool.  Furthermore, pastors who like to wander while preaching will find themselves without anywhere to move.  Alternatively, a wee pulpit on a huge platform minimizes the importance of the piece and gives a barren look to the front of the sanctuary. 

The next factor is height. The rule of thumb is that when standing behind the pulpit and resting your wrists on the back edge, your shoulders should be parallel to the floor. If a pulpit is too short, your shoulders will slouch. If it’s too tall, then they will shrug. Your pulpit consultant can provide some tips for finding the right piece for you.

Keep that Pulpit Rollin’
Castors under your pulpit 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 furnishing. With the pulpit off to the side, worship teams and youth groups will have use of an open platform. When they are done and it’s time for the pastor to preach, just roll the pulpit into place. No need for a moving crew. 

Castors also serve another very important purpose. 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 and loose feeling pulpit.   Allow the castors to do all the work to ensure a long-lasting, sway-free piece.

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow
An all-steel pulpit may look cool, but is it something that will stand the test of time?  What may match the décor of today may be horribly dated in five years. As stated above, you want something that will stand out but still accommodate ever-changing decors. This again is where the glass pulpit shines.

Make Sure Everyone Knows Where They Are
Over the last several years, the importance of church branding has come to the forefront. High-quality artwork on your furnishing is important. Branding creates familiarity and a sense of belonging for existing members and introduces the church’s identity to new members.

For those who offer video broadcasts or live streaming of services, the constant presence of the logo serves both as advertising and as a time-saving feature for post production, as the need to add the church’s name is redundant. 

Classic etching or full color image? It comes down to the characteristics of the logo and personal preference. A good pulpit manufacturer will be able to show you mockups or renders of the piece so you know what the pulpit will look even before manufacturing begins. Regardless of art choice, the space is there so use it wisely.

Oftentimes, folks may not notice if the carpet or the paint in the sanctuary is a little older.   But if your pulpit looks old, worn and dated, it will stand out – and not in a good way. 

Is your sanctuary looking tired and you’re on a limited budget?  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, which has over 20 years of experience custom making Pulpits and Communion Tables for churches around the world, www.prestigepulpits.com.

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