By Alan Gao
A pastor spends most of his time in church service behind a pulpit. While a podium does not impact the sermon’s substance, it does play a significant role in shaping the tune of church worship ambience.
A good pulpit helps draw your congregation to the pulpit, and a bad choice can put distance between you and your flock. So, fellowship with your serving ones, pray for your pulpit purchase that God may use this opportunity to advance his economy.
There are many considerations while selecting a perfect podium: your congregation, style, material, color, size and budget.
Knowing your congregation, their taste, their expectations, and your music service style are wonderful places to begin. After all, they are the ones who foot the bill and end up staring at it for years to come. Would this pulpit enhance the worship experience? Does this pulpit help furnish a spiritual home for them?
Style & Material
Like many other furniture items, there are classic pulpits that typically are more enclosed, made of wood, and come with nice trims. There also are more abstract designs that feature simplicity or transparency, and other styles in between. As a professional in this trade, I urge you not to start with a budget figure; rather, focus on what style podium helps improve your worship quality.
You want to choose a color that blends in well with your surroundings. If matching color to another piece of fixture is critical to you, be sure to spend extra time sharing photos and color swatches with the supplier.
A podium often is considered a centerpiece of worship service, so allowing it to stand out somewhat is a smart idea. Common color choices for wood are oak, and mahogany, maple; for metal, gold and silver; and for plastic, clear or amber are most common.
Unique colors such as purple or blue can be employed, and this typically calls for custom make. The size of the podium closely relates to the preacher’s height, size of your meeting hall, and how much material you bring to the pulpit.
If your church is large, or you frequently have a need for on-stage translation where two people would need to be standing next to one another, then a wider podium, 40 inches or above width, is required. Most stock podium tops range from 24 to 36 inches. Larger podiums go up to 72 inches wide.
Most podiums in the market are 45 to 48 inches tall. If you are short in stature, make sure you check with the seller on their recommendations. Ideally, your podium should allow for your chest to be in full view by the audience. You want to avoid using a stepping stool, as that can be a hazard getting up and down.
If you require the pulpit to be rolled away from one place to another, be sure to ask for wheels. If you are a traveling speaker, there are podiums that are designed to be mobile.
Many sellers offer customization. Because of design time involved and the fact that many setups are required to make a one-off product, custom make is more expensive. It also can take weeks or even months, depending on where it is made and how busy your supplier is.
The plus side of a custom make podium is that you got to specify your dream podium to the last detail. A custom job can include light and sound provisions, special heights or widths, all-new design concept, a well-crafted logo, special shelves, unique colors, exotic material choices and more.
Podiums are sold from a couple hundred dollars up to a few thousand dollars each. If your budget is limited, consider financing. Some sellers do offer financing for expensive ones.
Assembled or Knock Down
To have a podium delivered to you ready to use is a huge convenience for busy pastors. However, there are certain hassles come with an assembled podium in terms of logistics. An assembled pulpit must be shipped via Less than Truck Load (LTL) services, because they are simply too big to fit into UPS or FedEx small package trucks and handling equipment.
LTL providers typically call on commercial addresses with loading dock or forklift. They consider churches “limited access” and typically charge extra fee for church addresses. You also want to make sure you give seller a good phone number so they can pass that on to the LTL trucking company who handles your freight. LTL services do not offer any guarantees in delivery speed as an industry norm, so be sure you reach out to them and be proactive in order to get your pulpit delivered smoothly.
For the most part, podiums are shipped small packages via UPS or FedEx and require assembly. While instruction sheets can come in many forms and level of detail, a growing number of sellers have started to produce full-length instruction videos that are often posted on online for easy customer access.
Caring of a pulpit involves regular cleaning. Windex is safe for most surfaces. If not sure, always test a small area first. For acrylic pulpits, rubbing alcohol is the best option, as it leaves no residue. The best practice is to use a podium cover when not in use.
To complement a podium, many preachers choose a small footprint side table, which can hold a bouquet of flowers, green plants, or a jug of water. This is especially beneficial if your podium does not have a proper place for such ornaments or necessities.
Many pulpit makers offer matching communion tables. Sometimes buying both together can save your shipping or even a promotion for a bundled purchase.
If you wish to mount a microphone holder, please consider drilling mounting holes prior to assembling your podium. You can also request your podium seller to do this for you to avoid accidentally cracking the podium components.
A proper logo makes a huge difference. Imagine the President of the United States speaking behind an unmarked pulpit – that doesn’t appear very official, does it? There are stock generic logos such as a cross or prayer hand.
A good logo would require custom make, either laser engraved or digitally printed. A custom logo runs about $175 depending on how you wish it to be made. Sometimes what’s in your head may not translate precisely to the logo makers, so make sure you communicate precisely to avoid surprises.
Finally, there are times you may not like what you purchased. If damaged, most sellers would be willing to replace a part or the whole unit. You want to send seller pictures to identify the part in question or use instruction sheet to identify the part. If you must return a podium, be sure to protect parts properly and use original packaging.
Alan Gao is the owner and operator of Fixture Displays, which designs, manufactures and markets a wide variety of business and consumer products, www.fixturedisplays.com.