Monday Morning Insights

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    Ahh…. the altar call.  I remember it well…

    Ahh…. the altar call.  I remember it well…

    Growing up independent fundamental baptist, I've sat through my share of altar calls, feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt at over half of them.  When I was growing up, I thought "Just as I am" had 327 verses.  I remember rolling my eyes when so and so went forward (like they did every Sunday).  And I remember being upset when someone waited until the 326th verse of Just as I am to FINALLY go forward.

    The traditional altar call is gone from many churches (and I'm not so sure that is a bad thing... at least the way we did it growing up).  But thanks to YouTube, you can now re-live all the glory that was 'the altar call' with this new release.

    Take a look:

    I'm wondering... does your church still do altar calls?  Why or why not?

    If not... what has replaced the altar call at your church?  Do you still look to the Sunday service for most people to make their decision for Christ, or does that happen somewhere else in your church life?

    Oh... if I only had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase "Heads bowed, eyes closed".  (I thought that was actually a Bible verse.)

    Love to hear your thoughts on this one...


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    1. Rick Boyne on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Yep, but nothing like the video!!!

      We are a small congregation in rural Oklahoma.  Even I would expect an “altar call” in this church!

      I don’t use the altar call so much for appealing for salvation as I do appealing for repentance/life change/“gettin’ right with God”.  In the 3 years I’ve been pastor here, only a handful of salvations have taken place during the invitation.  Most take place throughout the week or after Sunday School as our members lead the lost to the Lord.

      I have nearly quit having a true “altar call” on Sunday evenings; usually only a “time of commitment” with the invitation given to repent/pray/commit.

    2. Pastor Ian on Mon, January 10, 2011

      We don’t have an invitation as in your olden days Todd where I beg people to respond and continue singing all 327 verses of “Just as I Am”. We do have an ending song and a challenge to respond in prayer or an opportunity if someone wants to talk to me. I have wanted to get away from that, but frankly I have not figured out a way to cleanly break from the message to dismissal without people looking around and thinking, “What just happened?” When the song ends, we close in prayer. We don’t have live music so when it’s over, it’s over. Only one time in over three years did the audio guy have to add an additional song.

      I definitely don’t want to have a closing song because that’s the way we’ve always done it. I don’t think it’s necessary for every service. Any thoughts on a seamless ending to the message?

    3. Bobby Rhoades on Mon, January 10, 2011

      First of all…great post.  Like you, I too was raised up in a church where it seemed like the same ones went forward during the “alter call” every week to the tune of “Just as I am”. I was one of those people. When I was 14 yrs old I went forward and “gave” my life to Christ. It wasn’t until 5 years ago that I realized (after living my 20’s and 30’s the way I wanted to) I was living in a false sense of salvation. God never drew me to Him until 5 years ago. Since then I now realize my salvation had nothing to do with me but all to do with God and His perfect timing. Since my true regeneration 5 years ago, everything about me has changed. I now love the things I used to hate and hate the things I used to love. I wrote about this on my blog. I’m now sensitive to sin, have a true love for Jesus and other believers that I never had before.

      In my opinion, the alter call is a man made ritual at winning souls for the Lord.  I believe that all that has been given to Jesus will come to Jesus in God’s perfect timing.

      Just my humble opinion and belief.

    4. Peter Hamm on Mon, January 10, 2011

      No, we don’t.

      But now that we see this video, maybe we will start! Looks like FUN!

    5. CS on Mon, January 10, 2011

      My church has altar calls, and it does sometimes get wearisome when there are four different ways things get pleaded for people to respond (Anyone need prayer?  Anyone facing a challenge?  Anyone need to receive Christ?  Really, does anyone need to receive Christ?). 

      I can understand that it is often a vehicle for people to show their inward conviction, and for that I see it as an adiaphoron.  But my true feeling on it is that I prefer the way Spurgeon did it.  “If any of you feel conviction, I have office hours on Monday; please come on by.”  And he had thousands who did so as opposed to a spur-of-the-moment, emotional plea.


    6. Jamie rindt on Mon, January 10, 2011

      I was laughing at video bc it is sad in some ways in that there is truth to it. But I get what you mean.

    7. Phil DiLernia on Mon, January 10, 2011

      hmmm ... kinda sad that we seem to be blanket-stating that asking people to make decisions to confess & repent is by nature a bad thing. 

      We do it at our church.  We’ve grown and much of that growth is from new believers.  I find it interesting that many times a visitor will come from another local church - a bible believing church if you will - and they accept the Lord after one of our services! 

      What’s worse - altars calls or not ever having the opportunity to respond?

      When people raise their hands more than once all they are saying is that they know that their lives haven’t matched their previous confessions.  Rather than belittle them or make fun of them why not trying to explain to them that their hearts of repentance is wonderful but they don’t “lose” their salvation the previous week therefore there’s no reason to respond in that same manner.  We encourage those people to reveal what it is they struggle with and work with them in trusting Jesus in those areas.

      God’s peace ...

    8. Todd Rhoades on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Hey Phil,

      I wasn’t (at least I hope I wasn’t) saying that asking people to confess and repent are bad things.  I was saying that I didn’t like the way we did it growing up; and am glad that we don’t do it that way anymore.

      I think there are other ways to ask for confession and repentance than the altar call.


    9. Eric on Mon, January 10, 2011

      I am a Presbyterian and we are more commonly known as the “Frozen Chosen.”  Alar calls are a bit foreign to us. Though I have on occasion stood before the baptismal font and asked people to come forward to remember their baptism (or in anticipation of it) and done a kind of re-committal service.

    10. Roger on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Instead of making fun we need to be figuring out what works. By the way, Steve Hill needs our prayers not our mockery.  He has incurable cancer. But we know with God all things are possible. Thousands of lives were genuinely changed as a result of altar calls. We don’t do them every week, just when I feel impressed and they are done in a variety of ways.

    11. Rick on Mon, January 10, 2011 what ever happens with public profession of faith?
      Is it delayed to the baptism? Is it even Biblical? and what do I do with this can of worms?

    12. Peter Hamm on Mon, January 10, 2011

      With all due respect, we don’t have to figure out what “works” or at least (as all we can do is determine…) what “seems to work”. Holding someone at gunpoint to obtain a profession of faith would probably work, but would not be right.

      And, no heart has ever been regenerated by God by an altar call, all those people were born again of and by God’s Spirit.

      Just sayin’...

      That said, I’ve seen well-done altar calls, and even performed some… they were sparsely responded to… which was just fine.

    13. Bobby Rhoades on Mon, January 10, 2011

      Peter, you said it best!

    14. Gordon Nicely on Mon, January 10, 2011

      I have to say attending Greg Laurie’s church in CA and seeing the throngs of people come forward God still uses it greatly.  I think it is great the way they do it in the Calvary Chapel movement.

    15. Tom Daniel on Mon, January 10, 2011

      My pastor in seminary 40 years ago said the church did without an altar call 1900 years. I follow my sermon with communion or the offering collection as a practical way for God’s children to respond to His Word with stewardship.

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