I realize that a lot of the church world has moved away from doing altarcalls during their services. Many people have questioned why I continue touse this method of evangelism. Let me start off by stating a few things thatI see that would cause leaders to shy away from this method.
1. I understand that just because someone comes forward during aservice does not mean that a change has taken place in their livesand many people have walked away confused.
2. Another reason would be because of abuse in the past with highpressure and preaching of hell fire and brimstone that would scarepeople into coming to the front to receive Christ into their lives sothat they would miss hell. When people are scared into comingforward it sometimes causes more harm than good.
3. I also realize that there is no biblical example of altar calls in thebible and that it is a method that the modern church world hasadapted for evangelism.
Saying all this, I still like to invite people forward to receive Christ duringmy services. I am always sensitive to the churches that I am ministering inand the fear factor of the people in the audience to come forward. In somechurches people are more reluctant to come forward to receive Christ. Andwhen I sense they are, I usually just pray with people where they are intheir seats.
When I do give an invitation to come forward to be born again, I almostdiscourage people from coming forward. Yet the front is always lined withpeople receiving Christ. I have been in many services in the past whereyoung people went forward just to get close to the person on stage orhoping to get a special gift or something for coming forward. I have hadchildren in the past come forward expecting to get candy or to play a game.When I invite people to come to the front to receive Jesus and to be bornagain, I am very specific about who I want to come forward. I always tell theaudience not to come forward to get close to me, see the lights, play agame, or get a prize. I tell them not to come forward because their neighbordoes or they think it’s cool. The only people that I want to come forward arethe ones that are serious and understand what I am talking about. I tellthem that if they do not understand or are confused not to come forward.I am also very specific about what being born again is during my service. I do not just tag an invitation on the end of each service as an afterthought.If I give an invitation to be born again, I spend a little time teaching on thesubject.
I believe that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). Ifthe word is not taught on the subject, how can a person have faith toreceive salvation? When an invitation is tagged on the end of each servicewithout any explanation of what we are asking people to respond to, it hascaused a lot of confusion in the past.
I am not saying that everyone that has been born again truly understoodeverything about salvation. God is much bigger than that. I was 6 years oldwhen I was born again. I went forward on New Years Eve in my father’schurch. No one even prayed with me but, I knew that I was changed thatday. I went home and told my mother that I had become a Christian that night.
A lot of people in the world today have many misconceptions about being aChristian. Many believe that it is anything from being a good person tobelonging to a church makes one a Christian.
In the past I have been accused of herding people to the front duringinvitations. This is why I have become so specific in whom I want to comeforward. I also qualify people before I ask them to come forward. I first askhow many know for sure that they have been born again. With all eyesclosed and heads bowed, I ask them to raise their hands. Then I tell themthat if they have been born again that they do not have to keep being bornagain over and over. If they mess up and sin that the bible says in 1 John1:9 that if we confess our sin that he is faithful and just to forgive us. Thisdoes not mean that we have to keep getting born again and again.Next, I ask how many have never been born again or are not sure that theyhave been. With all eyes closed and heads bowed, I ask them to raise theirhands. Then I ask for the people that have never been born again andwould like to receive this gift to stand up, but only if they are serious andunderstand what I am talking about. Don’t stand up because you wantexercise, because your neighbor does it, or you think it is cool, butbecause you truly want to become born again.
After waiting a little while to give people a chance to stand up if they wantto receive Christ, I then tell them that I want them to do one more thing.But before I do I tell them, I do not want them to come forward to get closeto me, play a game, see the lights, or receive a prize. I ask them that if theyare serious and understand what I am talking about to come forward. Nopressure, no fear, no manipulation, only if this is what they truly want fortheir lives. 9 out of 10 times the front is lined with people receiving Christ.After I get them to the front, I sit them down on the floor around me and askthem what they came down here for. Usually a few children raise theirhands and answer to be born again or to ask Jesus into my life. I then askthe group if this is why everyone came down front. I proceed to tell themthat this is the only reason I want them down here right now. Then I tellthem that I am going to say a prayer, and I want them to repeat it after me. Ialways ask them if they know that just because they repeat a prayer doesnot do anything for them. When we pray we are talking to God, so I wantyou to mean this from your heart. If you pray this to God, and you believe itin your heart, and are serious, he will come in and change you on theinside. I always include the whole audience in the prayer. And I tell all inattendance that even if they did not come forward and have not askedJesus in their life, that they can be born again right where they are.I never threaten with hell or in any way scare people into coming forward. Ibelieve that it is the goodness of God that brings man to repentance. Whenpeople understand the good news of the gospel and that the price hasalready been paid for them, they will want to receive this gift that has been offered to them.
By coming forward it is making a public profession of their faith. It letseveryone there know what they did. People have more of a grip on it whenthey come forward than just repeating a prayer in their seats. It is a morepersonal environment where I can get close to them and lead them intosalvation.
There is a new trend that teaches that it is the parent’s job to lead thechildren into the new birth. I do not disagree with this. Ultimately it shouldbe the parent that prays with their children to be born again. I prayed withmy son to be born again while driving in a car when he was just a child. Butto be honest about this, a lot of parents do not have a firm grip on whatbeing born again is themselves, or are not comfortable discussing it withtheir children. I pray that this changes.
If we always put it in the parents ball park and they drop the ball, or maybethey are not even born again themselves, or they do not go to churchthemselves, do we let these children creep through the cracks of oursystem? There must be a time where children have a chance to be bornagain while they are attending our services. It must be high on our prioritylist for children coming up through our churches.
I am in no means saying that this is the only way or even the best way tolead people to the Lord, but it is what works for me. The best way would befor churches to go into their communities and personally lead people to thelord individually. If every person in every church would lead at least one ortwo people to the lord each year our churches would double or triple eachyear. Unfortunately, this is not happening. Even in churches that teach thismethod of evangelism or was founded on the premise of personalevangelism. Somewhere it always seems we loose our site of the missionin front of us and leave it up to evangelist like myself, to come into thechurch and evangelize the small group of the community that will come outto the event that the church is offering.
I pray we as the body of Christ will rise up and take back this generation.
below is a link to a video of one of our Altar calls in Sayreville, NJ where around 300 people came forward to be born again….