Better Pulpit Manners

"Let a preacher be endued with ten virtues and but one fault, yet this one fault will eclipse and darken all his virtues and gifts."

By W.I. Smith

A well-known minister has written: "Let a preacher be endued with ten virtues and but one fault, yet this one fault will eclipse and darken all his virtues and gifts." Recog­nizing the truth of these words, some of our efforts to improve should be pointed in the direction of eliminating "faults," and to this end the following kindly correctives are in­tended to serve as gentle reminders:

1. The minister should be becomingly dressed. Says Grenville Kleiser: "An attrac­tive personal appearance is of undoubted advantage to a speaker, as even the first im­pression made by him may determine his sub­sequent success or failure. Prejudices and preferences are formed by an audience quickly and unconsciously. The speaker who wishes to make the best impression, therefore, should make the most of himself. His clothes should be plain and in good style. He should remember that immaculate linen and scrupulous care of the nails, teeth, and hair, are unmistakable signs of culture and refinement."

2. He should be punctual in his appearance at public worship, and equally punctual in bringing the worship which he conducts to a close.

3. His entrance into the pulpit should be deliberate and dignified. Having once entered the pulpit, the minister should remain there. He should not seem to be distracted by anything in the church building or in the con­gregation.

4. He should kneel on both knees to pray.

5. He should be chary of pulpit apologies. "Advertising one's deficiencies is the surest way of impairing one's efficiency."

6. The minister should guard his posture in the pulpit. He should sit up straight in his chair. He should keep his knees together. He should seldom cross his knees, and never by resting one ankle upon the other knee. He should stand squarely upon his two feet. He should never permit himself to lean upon the desk with his arm upon the Bible. He should not clasp his hands over his abdomen, nor place them under his coat tails, nor put them in his pockets.

7. He should avoid all mannerisms, "such as much adjustment of hair, much arrange­ment of coat, much handkerchief. Be natural." Avoid also an unnatural, artificial tone of voice, a "sanctimonious tone" as it is some­times called.

8. The minister should not whisper unneces­sarily with another minister in the pulpit.

9. He should beware of unseemly interrup­tions of the service.

10. From beginning to end his conduct of the worship should be that of leadership.

11. Having opened his Bible in order to give forth his text, the preacher should not close it until the sermon is finished.

12. The pulpit should be the center from which the worship is directed. Hymns should be announced from the "desk," and benedic­tions should be pronounced from this point, not from the end of the minister's row.

13. Handle the Bible with reverence both in and out of the pulpit.

14. "Proclaim truth rather than combat error."

Washington, D. C.

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