…teaching in the synagogues and home churches in biblical times was a shared responsibility. Often, several individuals would teach in a given gathering. Jesus and the apostle Paul were invited to be guest teachers in many cities. Typically, though, the teachers lived in the local community. There were no elevated platforms for teachers to stand above people… When the church began adopting public speaking rhetorical skills from Greek culture, the modern sermon as we know it began to form. The focus shifted to the oration skills of a single person rather than the participatory teaching first developed in synagogues and home churches. Then when Constantine erected the first church buildings (AD 327), preaching changed again. Sermons in these new buildings were first delivered from chairs. John Chrysostom (AD 347-407) moved the focus of preaching to an ambo, a raised desk from which sermons were delivered. The pulpit came soon after that (‘pulpit’ is derived from the Latin word pulpitum, which means ‘stage’). The pulpit was put in the highest and most visible place for all to see. All of this was in contrast to the practices of the early church.
Quoted from Emerging Worship, Creating Worship Gatherings for New Generations, by Dan Kimball, Zondervan 2004
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