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I’m sometimes asked by people why we don’t do “altar calls” at our services. Like the people who ask the question, the churches in my personal background pretty much all practiced “altar calls” at the conclusion of a sermon or service. I’ve seen them done in very poor fashion, and I’ve seen some pastors be really clear about the gospel, repentance, faith, and the fact that “coming forward” does not save. I date my own conversion to the preaching of Exodus 32, which concluded with an altar call.

So, why don’t we practice “altar calls”? I don’t think the pastor who practices an “invitation” at the end of a sermon is in sin, but he may not be acting wisely either. This list of reasons, compiled by Pastor Ryan Kelly of Desert Springs Church, is a pretty good summation of some of my thinking (HT: Z).

1. The altar call is simply and completely absent from the pages of the N.T.

2. The altar call is historically absent until the 19th century, and its use at that time (via Charles Finney) was directly based upon bad theology and a man-centered, manipulative methodology.

3. The altar call very easily confuses the physical act of “coming forward” with the spiritual act of “coming to Christ.” These two can happen simultaneously, but too often people believe that coming to Christ is going forward (and vice-versa).

4. The altar call can easily deceive people about the reality of their spiritual state and the biblical basis for assurance. The Bible never offers us assurance on the ground that we “went forward.”

5. The altar call partially replaces baptism as the means of public profession of faith.

6. The altar call can mislead us to think that salvation (or any official response to God’s Word) happens primarily on Sundays, only at the end of the service, and only “up front.”

7. The altar call can confuse people regarding “sacred” things and “sacred” places, as the name “altar call” suggests.

8. The altar call is not sensitive to our cautious and relational age where most people come to faith over a period of time and often with the interaction of a good friend.

9. The altar call is often seen as “the most important part of the service”, and this de-emphasizes the truly more important parts of corporate worship which God has prescribed (preaching, prayer, fellowship, singing).

10. God is glorified to powerfully bless the things He has prescribed (preaching, prayer, fellowship, singing), not the things we have invented. We should always be leery of adding to God’s prescriptions for His corporate worship.

Numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 10 of Ryan’s list are the most compelling reasons in my opinion. These would seem very serious objections for anyone who takes seriously the idea that our Christian lives and gatherings should conform to what the NT commands, models, and prohibits. Perhaps I would add an 11th: The “altar call” teaches the congregation to evaluate the “success” or “effectiveness” of the ministry on outward, visible actions and results.

Further, the need to be pastorally careful and sensitive with the souls of men needing to repent and believe couldn’t be more urgent. So, anything that obscures the reality of God the Holy Spirit’s work in conversion and the necessity of repentance and faith must be regarded–at best–a practice with potential to undermine the very work we’re giving our lives to.

Do people “respond” to the word of God at our services? They do. And we give them a number of ways they may follow up on what they’ve heard, from talking to an elder or Christian friend after the service, to scheduling an appointment during the week, to letting us know they would like us to visit with them, and so on. One thing I appreciate about our approach is that it allows us to meet, listen, question, encourage, teach and pray in a much more thorough way. By God’s grace we’re seeing people converted and profess their faith in baptism as the Spirit opens their hearts. We’re not perfect by any means. But I do hope we’re being faithful to the scripture’s commands, examples, and restrictions.

What do you think about Kelly’s list? Are you “for” or “against” and why? Would you add anything to or challenge anything on the list?

Thabiti Anyabwile is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Grand Cayman in the Grand Cayman Islands and a Council member with The Gospel Coalition.

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Craig Gove

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Agreed, but let us be careful that we do not exclude ministry tools simply becasue they are not in the Bible, otherwise we would have to start dropping alot of modern forms of ministry that are not found in the Bible, but are firmly established in the Christian church

Alexander Shaw

commented on Jun 7, 2011

"Altar calls" are 'dangerous' and can be most misleading and may give someone a false sense of security - "I went forward!!" In the New Testament when people came into the Church of Jesus Christ, they Repented of their sin having come to Believe in Jesus, and were Baptised in water, and they received The Holy Spirit. As this season of Pentecost approaches it would be sensible and wise to check this out. I know of no other way of coming into the Church of Jesus Christ.

Dawn Plaisance

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Yes I also agree with the use of altar calls unless the Holy Spirit has a dvine call to repentance for some. We don't practice altar calls where i go to church but will on occasion have them as led only by the Holy Spirit.

Mark Holdcroft

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Thank you for an interesting article. However, point 2 is very general and without any explanation as to what exactly was the bad theology that you are referring to. Could you expand on that please?

Don Jones

commented on Jun 7, 2011

But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve,....Joshua 24:5. A time of decision. Acts 2:1ff - their decisions were to follow Christ after the Peter and the others presented the gospel. I would hope in all churches there would be a time of decision at the end of worship/preaching God's word. Hebrews 4:12 - The word of God calls us all to a deeper commitment and total surrender in every area of life.

Michael Morton

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Next Sunday is Pentecost Sunday. Peter stood and preached and the people responded. God's word is powerful. It's a shame to preach God's word and have that power touch people's lives and not give an opportunity to respond to it.

John Bergh

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Maybe an altar call isn't necessary in the strict sense of the word but I do think that we need to be making an invitation to people. If people aren't invited, then they will not join us.

Jonathan Campbell

commented on Jun 7, 2011

This was an excellent article. Thank you Thabiti for sharing this. I don't even like the term 'altar call' because Calvary is our altar (Hebrews 13:10). The front of the church is not an altar. To claim it is would be popery. The communion table simply reminds us of the great altar where Christ bled and died 2000 years ago.

Ronald Smith

commented on Jun 7, 2011

There are many worship tools on our order of service which are not spelled out in scripture, but enhance the worshiper's experience with God. However, EVERY believer I personally know came to Christ by invitation, including me and the writer of this article and the more prominent believers like John, Matthew, Peter...

Joseph Yunik

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I grew up in a church that heavily used the altar call. I saw a lot of manipulation take place during worship servics, revival services, etc. I agree with the article, the Bible does not teach an altar call. The Bible does give illustrations where people were brought to a point of decision, but that is not the same as an altar call. As a pastor, I always bring our people to a point of decision, but I do not ask people to come forward. An altar all is not right or wrong, but it must be done with good taste, and with the hightest of integrity.

Lisa Donald

commented on Jun 7, 2011

The method of giving altar calls can easily become a manipulation tactic, or at least feel that way. I've heard compelling messages where my thoughts were turned to God's Word and how these things apply to other Scripture and to my life. Then an altar call is given and it it seems to negate some of what the the Holy Spirit was doing through Scripture in the name of what the Holy Spirit was supposedly doing during the altar call. I feel manipulated as if the preacher was seeking an ego boost with visible responses.

Bruce Church

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I respectfully disagree with this article. I feel that most churches of today have watered down not only the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but don?t want to bring congregants to a total commitment. Some churches believe that justification is a process that people come to Jesus over time; salvation is an immediate decision (ie. Paul on Damascus road). Sanctification is the process in which over time we become more like Jesus Christ. We as Pastors are called to be fishermen of men; we can catch no fish until they have made a full commitment to take the bait! We must always make clear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and draw the net (ask for commitment) as the Spirit leads! John 6:44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Gerry Breshears

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Why an altar call? Because we are like Paul who "reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks." (Act 18:4) Like Paul we "become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (1Co 9:22). Of course altar calls can be done badly. But that just says do it well. If we seriously only did what is in Bible then we would not use the internet or build dedicated church buildings. Where the Bible is silent, it's not that God forbids or that He forgot to speak, but that He is encourages us to wise and Spirit led to do the work of Jesus in various cultures and times and contexts. So let's call people to Jesus and do it in lots of different ways so lots of different people will come to follow the Lord of Glory.

Michael Flanagan

commented on Jun 7, 2011

How many have come to the saving grace of Jesus by way of "the alter call?" How many have rejected our Saviour because of "the alter call?" The question is not whether we should have alter calls, but rather how should we structure our alter calls to ensure the message is clear to those who respond to the call, that Jesus blood and the cross is the only way to salvation, not walking the isle of a church.

Lynwood F. Mundy

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Altar Calls I feel can be very dangerous in misleading the congregation in to believing what has been preached, taught and sung about is not all true. By that I mean, the minister has been preaching about individual faith and prayer for self and others, but then have an Altar Call which misleads people in to believing that the minister holds the key, or putting faith in him and not in oneself in God. Altar Call can also make one that is secular believe that if they come to an Altar Call they can either confess their sins and leave as was when they came in to the service, or give them a guilt trip in to joining the church without really searching their soul and really coming to Jesus through faith, earnest repentance and accepting Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Faith and prayer in knowing that you have been born again is in its self an indwelling Holy Spirit Altar Call for ones self and praying for others as well.

Chad Shively

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Although there is an argument here against alter calls, I feel that we are missing the point. Jesus calls us to "leave" our old life and follow Him. This, along with baptism, are small, recognizable, and easily done commands. Jesus told one to leave everything, let the dead bury the dead, and to follow Him. By being a babe in Christ, young Christians should not be expected to do or know any of the deeper lessons Christ is revealing to us. They will if they continue their walk. This is a direct result of Jesus' point when He said if we confess before men, He will confess us before His Father in Heaven. If we don't, He won't! Jesus wants us to put our money where our mouth is and if we say we believe what we say we believe, He wants to test us. If people are believing that alter calls are giving people a false sense of salvation, then that comes from the pulpit and its the pastors fault for not fully teaching those in His flock the true meaning. I believe we are raising up a passive people that WANT to sit down and not express their faith. Jesus wants us to live out our faith and not just sit back and let the world go to Hell. Wake up Christian!

Rick White

commented on Jun 7, 2011

There is also no mention of air conditioning in the New Testament, but I bet we all have that in our churches. Our Church of Christ brothers will tells us there is no mention of musical instruments in the New Testament. Yes, we have all seen altar calls mis-used, just as many others things in the church have been. It is a powerful moment when a person make a public profession.

Robert A. Weathers

commented on Jun 7, 2011

The main idea behind the article is flawed. The "altar call" ( it is better called an "invitation to respond") is not the issue, but the temptation to manipulate human emotions. As others have pointed out, the call to respond is a method that can be used or abused. If we follow the writer's thinking, we should stop using the internet, welcome teams, ushers, email, response cards, asking for hands to be raised, etc-- none of these are in the Bible. However, we do these things because we know that all can be used biblically and as sound tools to evangelize and edify. Our job is to be responsible in our methods and to call people to Christ.

Laraine Butler

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Great Discussion. The author agrees with calling people to a profession of faith but not calling them to the front of the church as a way of manipulation or proof of their decision. I've witnessed many a lost soul wander to the front and then wonder what they've just done. On a side note I once heard a man state that he preached from the same bible as Paul the King James. I wonder what invitational song Jesus and the Disciples sang during the Olivet Discourse? Any ideas?

Scott Dawson

commented on Jun 7, 2011

It just seems appropriate to give a clear call for people to respond when sharing the gospel. I see that being VERY Biblical. In addition, I would wonder of those who do not give altar calls to explain how you came to Christ? If it worked for you, why would it not work for someone else? When you see a falling star at night - it always gets the attention over the billions of stars that continue to shine brightly. We have all seen "manipulated" invitations, but do not let a few distract us from our calling of "I IMPLORE you to be reconciled unto God".

Larry Wilson

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I wrote a response but the sermon central server keeps rejecting it.

Larry Wilson

commented on Jun 7, 2011

In our circle, the altar call is used, but I have rarely seen any of the abuses mentioned in this article. Just a few thoughts on the author's 10 points. 1. Acts 2 is pretty close to an altar call. How could they know how many conversions and who to baptize if there was not some movement forward? 2. Agreed that Finney had poor theology and thus poor methodology. But good men with good theology, such as Moody, used the invitation. 3 and 4. We are very careful to distinguish between heart conversion and just walking the church aisle. 5. I am a Baptist, and I have never heard or even thought of the idea that an altar call replaces baptism. Someone needed a 10th point

Larry Wilson

commented on Jun 7, 2011

6. If it is true that an altar call misleads one into believing that spiritual work only occurs on Sundays, would that not also argue against having church on Sunday? 7. Sure, the "altar" is not sacred. It is just a place where we invite men to meet with God. It could happen anywhere, but apart from "exhorting" (Acts 2) and "beseeching" (2 Cor. 5:20) that encounter with God may not happen anywhere! 8. Yes, we must befriend and show the love of Christ first. I did that with a young man named Gaston. Then I brought him to church where he responded to God at the end of a sermon! 9. Worship and preaching ARE primary, but the moment in which one responds to the message and thus is changed in heart and life, this IS important. 10. Certainly, I do not go home discouraged if no one comes forward. But it IS a blessing of God when someone comes. Not all fruit is observable, but some is. (John 15). While the place (altar) may be invented, the call to respond is not a human invention. It is solidly biblical.

David Hallum

commented on Jun 7, 2011

As a pastor for the last 30 years, it has been my practice to end our worship services with an invitation (altar call). When a congregant responds to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, I take them in one hand with the Word of God and personally share Christ with them. If this is bad ministry, then I am a bad minister. I wholeheartedly disagree with the author of this article.

Francis Murphy

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I think some are struggling with Thabiti's main argument here, because 'altar calls' are the only way we know to call a person to salvation. I have heard many times, a preacher saying to everyone coming forward 'You are now saved. Welcome to the family of God'. This gives people false assurance. In the first 5 centuries of the church at least, Easter Sunday was reserved for baptisms. Those who had responded to the preaching of the gospel in the preceding year or two would undergo instruction in basic discipleship as catechists(i.e. learners). They were then 'tested' to see if they could make a genuine profession of faith and demonstrated the fruits of repentance in their lives. Only then could they be baptised and admitted to communion. I was saved as a teenager through an altar call invitation, but as a Presbyterian ministering here in post-Christian Europe, I have found it is even more important to take time to disciple people rather than seek raised hands or people coming forward at a service. The real proof of regeneration, is in changed hearts and lives. There is a place for calling people to commitment, but maybe we need to look beyond the 'altar call' and be reminded of how the Puritans, the Reformers and the early church did it.

Donna Colon

commented on Jun 7, 2011

THOSE WHO WIN SOULS ARE WISE.....END OF CONVERSATION...GUESS WE KNOW WHERE YOU STAND!

Rusty Conyers

commented on Jun 7, 2011

It is biblical to win souls, whether personally or from the pulpit. Jesus always called His hearers to a decision. The 1st NT sermon (Acts 2) brought the hearers to a point of decision. This is a sad article.

Scott Dawson

commented on Jun 7, 2011

It just seems appropriate to give a clear call for people to respond when sharing the gospel. I see that being VERY Biblical. In addition, I would wonder of those who do not give altar calls to explain how you came to Christ? If it worked for you, why would it not work for someone else? When you see a falling star at night - it always gets the attention over the billions of stars that continue to shine brightly. We have all seen "manipulated" invitations, but do not let a few distract us from our calling of "I IMPLORE you to be reconciled unto God".

Jim Ressegieu

commented on Jun 7, 2011

As I read the article and the comments I felt that this was a very divisive topic. I've never been a member/pastor of a church that practiced altar calls--as a young person I remember one we had, several people came forward and I think it surprised the pastor as the people sort of milled around in front of the church. Personally, I encourage folks to see me after the service when I think I need to encourage them to do that--it's much more comfortable to talk/pray with a person one-on-one.

Richard Hopper

commented on Jun 7, 2011

To say that using an "altar call" is passe in today's culture may be going a bit too far is probably true. I myself am a product of going forward to an altar of prayer to confess my sin. I was only 12 yrs. old but fully knew what was happening, that I was indeed going because I had sin in my life and needed forgiveness from the only One who could give it. But just because it worked more than 40 years ago doesn't mean that it still speaks today. I have given altar calls after preaching only when the way seemed clear from the Holy Spirit to do so. Without that influence or go ahead from Him it is all in vain. As long as there are mechanism's in place that will allow for further conversation and convincing, that is the most important thing. But to preach a message that requires a response and not have the opportunity to respond, that is like getting a glass of water and not being able to drink it.

Benjamin Zambrano

commented on Jun 7, 2011

This is one of the dumbest sermon I ever heard. It's not the altar call itself that is the problem. The real problem is that improper use and wrong understanding of altar calls. We need to preach about Christ and invite people by calling them to repent and accept Christ as their Lord and Savior because how can they be saved unless they are called? Giving the altar call does not automatically save a person. Coming to the altar does not save a person. It is when that person realizes that he can't do anything to save himself from eternal destruction except by coming to Christ. Altar call may be the means but not the end for people to come to Christ and be saved.

Edward Fleming

commented on Jun 7, 2011

According to Jesus Christ himself in Matthew 10:32-33 "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven." It seems reasonable to me to say that an "altar call" is a call to accept and confess Christ "before men" (not my words - Christ's) It also seems reasonable to say that we have tried to take all of the "offense of the cross and gospel" out of our pulpits when Jesus in the verses following those quoted stated that is was come to set folks "at variance" thereby creating the very moment that some who would agree with this article are trying to avoid. The moment of "stepping out for Christ". So sad that we are in many ways taking the public witness of the salvific work of the spirit out of view into some back room as though we would be embarrassed if anyone saw or knew that there was a new birth happening. How it must break the heart of the Father that we can put our newborns up against the window for the world to see but we go to great lengths to hide his. After 30 years of ministry, both pastoral and evangelistic, I myself will continue to publicly call men and women to Christ. And, then, if they want to get together and talk afterwards, well then, I'm up for that too! God Bless! Dr. Edward E. Fleming, I, D.Min.

Rodney Shanner

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Thank God for that Sunday morning in 1969 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama at the First Church of the Nazarene when God answered my prayer that if someone else would go forward first, then I would go forward. When my Wife went forward, I was right behind her. It was because of that moment that I discovered that Christianity was about a personal relationship with Jesus and not only a code of conduct to adhere to. That decison of a moment became the relationship of a lifetime. I completed 41 years of pastoral ministry this May of 2011 and I'm still in the harness.

Wesley Harris

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I have grown up in a church setting where the altar is recognized as a place to pray. Public confession is necessary but the altar is used for more than just confession. In the Church of the Nazarene, we believe that the altar is always there for ANY one who wants to pray. Don't strain on the camel and swallow the gnat. The altar will be what we teach it to be.

Isaac Afriyie

commented on Jun 7, 2011

In fact i disagree with the idea of viewing "altar call" as inappropriate evangelistic exercise. Yes baptism is the only way of declaring one's self puplicly as someone who has accepted christ, yet it takes only the genuine repentant sinner to walk in sin through the massas forward. The motive behind going forward is not to guarantee salvation right there, to asume this, will only base on the mind-set.

Edward Fleming

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I pastor in the Church of God of Prophecy, a pentecostal/holiness movement. We too believe the altar is for more than just conversion. There is so much good that occurs when we humble ourselves before God. The list would be too long to post here of the wonderous things that I have seen happen in an altar. That having been said, I have also seen people come to God outside of the Church building. I guess you could say we make our altars where ever we bow our hearts to pray.

Michael Wright

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Honestly I don't know on this one, I've never been a part of a church that used Alter Calls but I recently saw a video that used them and thought it was fairly intriguing. At Eastpoint we don't like to single people out but I've always felt our net is just a bit too wide and it's too easy for people to just confess in prayer but never actually engage anyone in the church, and if they do it somewhere else that's fine, we're one in many churches in the act of trying to win people to Christ. But I'd hate for someone to have that "Aha!" moment and then be too shy to admit it to anyone. Alter Calls I think can be reacted to in both ways, but in this instance I think the positive reinforcement of the church is a real bonus. As for the theological correctness of it, while the Bible certainly points to false teaching and true teaching, an examination of the Gospel will show that Christ modeled a myriad of methods of conversion, as did Paul... there's a lot of areas of the church that you really can't say the Bible makes biblically uniform, and I really see this as one of those areas. So I'm not going to be for or against it, I'm just going to say if it wins souls then it's done a good thing.

Hershel Mowery

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I strongly disagree with Pastor Ryan Kelly's ten reasons particularly when he implies that we are doing something that disagrees with the Word. I believe that worship is incomplete without a time of response. What good is it to hear the Word, have the Word touch your heart, and not be given an opportunity to respond to what God has just said to you. Of course there are many ways for that response to occur and I would not be so dogmatic as to insist that the "altar call" is the only way to offer a time of response but I do see it as a valid, scriptural, and practical way to offer a time of response. So many of the 10 points are based on misconceptions of what the time of invitation is all about in our church. If your tradition is not to include an "altar call" by all means continue your tradition. My Southern Baptist tradition is to have a time of response and as long as I continue to be a pastor I will include it in the service. I personally was saved at VBS age 12 during an "altar call". However, I resent deeply the and am offended by the implication that by including a time of response I am NOT in accordance with the Scriptures.

Gerald Weathers

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Why do so many try to get their name and opinions by media? The bible says in John at the very end Jesus did many things that are not written! Let God out your box my brother I've seen clinical miracles at the altar and its been explained well by many great men God has appoinited

Richard Salazar

commented on Jun 7, 2011

With all of the love and patience I can muster up; some things just aren't worth commenting on. But I can't resist this one. What's next, "15 Reasons Not To Preach From The Old Testament". So much for evangelism as practiced by Billy Graham and the other great men of God who have seen multiplied millions of people respond to God's love during the altar call.

Steve Brown

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I could not disagree more!

Rev. O.k. Neal

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I disagree with the idea of canceling alter calls as I do with the idea of taking down the crosses or setting the sanctuary to resemble a night club. I want this to be taken as respectful, but I willl not preach without an alter call from which to respond.

Steve Farless

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I'm disappointed that the article actually made the cut. I wouldn't be nearly as disappointed if the points weren't simply parroting statements that most of us have already rejected early in our ministries due to the subjective logic and lack of subject specific accuracy. I can handle a "10 warnings about altar calls" article if it presented some notable examples of abuses, or testimonies of people who have actually been confused (which we all ready have) by the process. for most of us, the altar call is simply giving people an opportunity to respond to what they have heard; even if they do not come forward, the idea that a response is necessary has been communicated in the process.

Richard Flowers

commented on Jun 7, 2011

It seems that if we all operated by reason #10, anything that is powered by electricity would be disqualified as a tool for worship. There goes the LED lighting and the fog machines, projection and sound systems! Uh Oh!

Anthony Zibolski

commented on Jun 7, 2011

This article is a sad representation of where we have come in society. Jesus always looked for a response after preachng. Society today has made everything secret and private and when Jesus has done anythng in a persons life, they usually want to share it with loved ones and fellow believers. Totally disagree with this mans logic and practice.

Gary Greene

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I will continue to offer Christ's invitation at the end of my lessons, but I will be more aware of the possibilities identified in points 6 thru 9 of Ryan's list. Everything gets abused. That doesn't mean it all needs to be thrown out.

Chuck Tate

commented on Jun 7, 2011

In response to the #1...are you kidding me?: Peter gave an altar call and 3,000 people responded. This is how the Church was birthed. The more people responded the more "numbers" were being added daily. I'm pretty disappointed in this article. Please follow up with 10 Reasons Why You SHOULD Give An Altar Call. Hey, I'll even write it!

Thomas D. Weill

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Kudos to all of you that still practice the "altar call!" The apostle Paul said, "...present your bodies a living sacrifice . . ." The altar could be your living room, your automobile or even the front steps of a church building. The Old Testament also had a lot to say about altars. You say, that was the Old Testament. We don't go by that any more. The apostle Paul again said, "The things that were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scripture might have hope." There has been too much moving away from the things of God and look where our country is today because of it. No disrespect intended here, but let us keep the Lord in everything we do, including having an "altar call" as the Holy Spirit leads!

Mike Bauer

commented on Jun 7, 2011

What if we considered observance of the Lord's Supper our "altar call?" We certainly would have plenty of biblical support for this to happen on a weekly basis on Sundays (Acts 20:7, 1 Cor. 11:27-28, 16:2).

Ed Owens

commented on Jun 7, 2011

From the reactions altar calls seem to be a highly esteemed. I read an article about the history of the altar call that states that the modern altar call methodology began in the camp meeting during the second awakening. It was used to gather groups of people who needed to repent. It was convenient for the preacher to deal with large groups of converts. Charles Finney popularized its use. If I remember correctly, originally the altar call involved extensive times of mourning as people dealt deeply with sin. Perhaps the discussion should focus on what helps people come to deep repentance and faith. I have witnessed many an altar call that seemed to trivialize conversion.

Sandra Haynes

commented on Jun 7, 2011

In our traditional african american churches, our alter calls are for the people to come for prayer, healing,and spiritual renewal. Alter calls are done in the middle of service not after the preached word. We will never take that away. People are healed and set free. It often free them to receive the word.

Jeff Strite

commented on Jun 7, 2011

No, there were no "altar calls" in Scripture. Altar calls were a man-made invention involving coming forward to "ask Jesus into your heart"... a practice which is also not in the Bible. However, the book of Acts repeatedly reveals that there must be a call for decision on the part of those who want to become Christ's. "Repent and be baptized" (Acts 2:38); "Repent, then, and turn to God' (3:19); Philip obviously asked the Ethiopian Eunuch for decision, because the Eunuch said "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?" (8:36); the Philippian jailor was told "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved"; and Ananias told Saul/Paul "what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name". For this reason we always have and always offer an invitation at the end of every service and we will tell prospective converts that God expects them to 1) believe in Jesus, 2) repent of their sins, 3) confess Jesus as their Lord and Master, 4) be buried in the waters of Christian baptism for the forgiveness of their sins... and then live for Jesus the rest of their lives.

Brent Douglas

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I totally disagree with his reasonings 3-10 and it demonstrates his total lack of proper training on how altar calls should be presented and handled - this is simply nonsense and not even worthy of taking time to answer properly. I train people on conducting effective altar calls and have seen thousands of people powerfully impacted during those times.

David Hodgin

commented on Jun 7, 2011

54 comments, really? Most of them out-right mean spirited. That alone would make me question the value of an "altar call". Check out the guidelines right next to where you wrote your comments, "Be excellent to each other." They'll know us by our love. I've asked people to commit by raising their hand, asked for them to come forward, but my favorite way to invite someone to come to Christ is over coffee, when they can ask questions. I love it when Sermon Central posts articles like this and "The one-hour church service" They expand my thinking, help me to grow in understanding. Thanks Thabiti and SC for a good read

Steve Baker

commented on Jun 7, 2011

We do not have a "physical altar" in our sanctuary,however,I believe the altar is in one's heart as well. I don't want to regard the altar as "the closing table" such as in a retail sales business where the customer sits down with the salesperson to close the deal on a product i.e a "sales pitch".

Richard Flowers

commented on Jun 7, 2011

All criticism aside, I'm so glad that the church where I was born again extended an altar call. That church had been praying for my salvation for many months and I wasn't even aware of it. I didn't even know those "crazy people". No one took me by the arm or dragged me down the aisle that morning. The Holy Spirit convicted me and I felt compelled to go forward where a loving, caring man of God took the bible and led me to Christ. Back then, I wasn't even aware of any of the terminology used to support or oppose the altar call in this post. I just needed Jesus... no "Closing sale" required... the Spirit took care of that. I won't throw rocks at those who don't, but I will continue to do extend an altar call because it gives people an opportunity to respond as God speaks to their heart.

Bill Provost

commented on Jun 7, 2011

An alter Call, asking Jesus into your heart, responding to the Gospel, what ever you would like to call it, is not the destination. When I invite people forward after a message it is for prayer, and if someone prays for forgiveness and salvation it is a starting point. Alot of people are assuming (and maybe so)that these people will not be discipled afterward. If there is no plan for follow up, then inviting people forward is a terrible idea, but itjust could be the beginning of a wonderful new life for some.

Ron Hee

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Altar calls are simply opportunities given to our church folks to respond to what the Holy Spirit is doing in their hearts through the worship or the word. This article should not have made the cut.

Russ Ross

commented on Jun 7, 2011

Our brother's critique of the "altar call" seems forced because the scriptures do not explicitly forbid the practice. It is a matter of Christian liberty. Its genesis, then, does not matter at all. Although he prefers not to implement altar calls in his worship services, he probably meets in a building of some sort, speaks from a pulpit,

Lee H.

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I tried not to respond, but felt heavily compelled. This article has to potential to be very polarizing, because one person espouses a single opinion. His opinion is not more valid than any other, by it is perhaps more volatile. What's the purpose of this article, did it persuade anyone to rescind their current modus operandi, or does it just rub some the wrong way. If extending an invitation is unacceptable to this person, it doesn't matter. What really matters is that our Father is glorified and people are afforded the opportunity to accept Him as Lord and Savior. Refuse to argue about the Word. It is sufficient. I've been a Senior Pastor for 10 years and I believe and have witnessed God the Holy Spirit manifest God's will at the beginning, middle and end of a service. Let GOD use you as He desire and not contribute to the continued segregation of His Body. Grace and Peace.

Manuel Mapa

commented on Jun 7, 2011

SermonCentral must be more discriminating with the articles it publishes. This article seems to have been written out of humanistic reasons. For a majority of ministers who visit this site (including me), it wasn't excellent nor was it a blessing.

Lisa Donald

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I agree that this isn't so much a discussion about whether to give an invitation to respond but how to do so ... I think the article is more a commentary on the abuses of altar calls than about a method of calling for a response.

Hansel Ottley

commented on Jun 7, 2011

God is sovereign and of infinite variety, and has many ways of dealing with the human heart, through various methods. no church, or organization, or preachers should feel that they are so big and mighty that they have any monopoly on the Holy Spirit to limit him to their one-track humanistic way of dealing with the hearts of men. this is a clear indication that the Holy Spirit is not given opportunity to minister to the human heart in some churches. However, I agree with Manuel Mapa, that these things should not be published, this is an attack on Christianity and upon the Holy Spirit, and upon preachers who are allowing the Holy Spirit who alone has the power to draw men to Christ, to minister to the human heart.

Mikaele Taitusi

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I come from the Fiji Islands and have witnessed thousands of people both young and old respond to altar calls where they commit themselves to the Lord. Today, many of these people are strong and dedicated Christians. My Sunday School teacher said that not making an altar call is akin to someone taking you for dinner, showing you all the nice food, but not asking you to partake of it. How would you feel?

Matt Krachunis

commented on Jun 7, 2011

When I was 15 I "came forward" at a church camp and "made a decision". I have been living for Jesus for 21 years now. The first 15 years I was not. I knelt down in the dirt and confessed Christ and have never been the same. I guess I didn't think about the theology of it at the time, I just walked forward and my life was forever changed.

Sterling Franklin

commented on Jun 7, 2011

I would disagree with your assessment, but blessings to you as God leads you. I'm a big fan of bringing people to a point of decision, just as Paul did the Philippian jailer in Acts 16, and Peter the crowd on Pentecost in Acts 2 (among TONS of other examples). We can teach people about Jesus, but they need to come to a point of decision about Him, whether to trust Him or whether to reject Him completely.

David Bays

commented on Jun 8, 2011

I always give an invitation after I preach my Sermon. I do not call it an altar call, I just ask if God has spoken to your heart to move out and come forward and express it. If Jesus walked up a lonely road to Calvary, surely people can walk down an isle a few steps to tell of their Profession of Christ as Saviour and Lord or to make a new committment to be faithful in serving the Lord.

Mike Aldaco

commented on Jun 8, 2011

pastor kelly, I think you missed it this time, it's probably time to rethink your list. God bless

Anonymous

commented on Jun 8, 2011

Altar calls not biblical....so is a lot of church practices, but that does not say it is wrong. A leader should act on the prompting of the Holy Spirit. As for altar calls being absent in the bible, so is there no command for singing [apart from singing in your heart]and songleaders in the new testament. Some people just need that nudge otherwise they will never come to a commitment, they have to be plucked out of the fire. As a preacher i witnessed countless souls saved at an altar call and what is so thrilling is that the most of them is still serving the Lord. God gave us common sense lets use it to His glory

Danny A. Strickland

commented on Jun 8, 2011

I must agree with the comment that some of the comments here are a bit mean spirited. I can see where the pastor that that wrote this article is coming from. The alter call has been used a lot to get people to come forward and just repeat a sinners prayer and they are saved. This may work sometimes but it is not always true. I have to say I did not go down to an alter in church to accept Christ. But I did accept him at the alter of GOD at his feet I received my savior in March 1988 seating in a pick-up truck in front of a Shoney's. That experence was so deep that I will never forget it. I remember that night getting home and I could not wait to tell my wife. And we called the pastor of the church that my wife and kids were attending at the time ( which is the Church were have been a member of since 1998). The one thing I was compeled to do is get baptised. The Spirit inside of me drew me to this open profession of my acceptants of Jesus as my saviour and the death of the old man and the rebirth of the new man. That was on a Wendnesday and I was Baptised on the next Sunday. This is the one think that I believe is not preached enough. a person has to have a changed heart not just a head knowledge and a belive that Jesus is GOD's son and he went to the cross to pay for our sins. I have heard people profess this on monday morning and drunk and curssing their pearents out the next Friday night. People go to the alter and profess Christ as their saviour and there is no change in the way they live their lives. However I am not saying we should not have an invitation to come to GOD on Sunday mornings. I am a pastor of a small church family and I have an invitation to come to the alter every Sunday at the close of service. This invitation is for anyone to bring a burden, a prayer need, a prayer of thanks or a sinners prayer and acceptdents of Christ as Savior.

Jerry Jones

commented on Jun 8, 2011

The article has some good points, it seems as my Dad would say we are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. God is the one that allowed altars to be used as an anointed place to spend time in pray and worship with him. The altar call is not just for salvation, and i agree that spiritual conversion can come over time but it all begins with a decision. We read in the book of Acts that 3000 then 5000 were saved that day, that implies that salvation took place pretty much right away then the process of serving Christ begins.

Fred Gurule

commented on Jun 8, 2011

Perhaps you didn't take into consideration how that Jesus Christ invited his listners to "come to him" (this may not be an altar call, but it is an invitation for someone to make a decision after hearing a precise message on a particualr subject. I'm not to total disagreement with the points, and I will be more careful to explain that salvation is an act of faith, not necessarily an act of saying a few words. We do follow up very well and we have seen people saved and baptised. Thank you.

Vinnie Cappetta

commented on Jun 8, 2011

would someone like to create a different list...10 Reasons Why You Give Altar Calls?

Solomon Nanpan Maichibi

commented on Jun 8, 2011

Altar call as far as am concern is a biblical concept.Altar call is not only restricted to salvation alone but it can be for healing, Baptism of the Holy Spirit, rededicating ones life to God,to answer the call to the ministry etc.Rom 10:9-10 talked about confessing with our mouth and believing to be save.In Col 1:9-12,Eph 1:15-20,3:14-20 Paul had to pray for converts because he knew some people were save.If it was not by altar call how would he have known?.In the Acts of the Apostle 3ooo were converted and baptized and later on the number of believers swelled up to 5000 etc.In as much as your write up is constructive but we need to understand that any good thing can be abused.Do we stop using knife in the kitchen because evil men use it to cut peoples throat?I personally accept Christ as my Lord and savior through the altar call.I want to state in categorical term that without altar call there can be no proper follow up and counseling.

Steven Farless

commented on Jun 8, 2011

I am curious as to why the respondents to his article are accused of being mean spirited while the article itself is not? The assertions in the article itself are offensive by suggesting that pastors who use altar calls are: unbiblical, practicing bad theology, allowing deception, replacing baptism, archaic, de-emphasizing more important elements of worship, and tops it all off with a challenge of their motives. What I hear in the negative responses are closer to shock and disappointment. When I first read it, I kept looking for the ?gotcha? line at any time thinking that we were being set up like an April Fools joke; but it never came.

Manuel Mapa

commented on Jun 8, 2011

I have to write again and agree with Steven Farless that none of the comments are mean-spirited. Shock and disappointment, yes, and even anger. The article subtly questions the integrity of pastors who give altar calls. It is cause for indignation and rightly so.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 8, 2011

I don't know if people are still reading these comments, but I'd like to share a few thoughts. I'm quite surprised by the number of comments, and a significant majority with a rather defensive tone. While I have not thought through this issue enough to have a firm conviction either for or against altar calls, I ask myself, "Why are people so defensive?" He's specifically not saying that pastors who practice this are in sin, just that they may not be acting wisely. And guess what? WE MAY NOT!!! Surely none of us can claim immunity to being blinded by our traditions. So rather than be defensive, why not take some time to really listen to the objections, think through the issue biblically (not just pragmatically, i.e., it worked for me, I see people getting saved, etc.), and then simply allow God himself to reveal to you whether or not it is the wise thing to do? It doesn't seem like many of those who are commenting are doing that, as evidenced by some of the misreadings. He's not saying there should not be a way to respond, he's saying there is a different, more biblical way that a person can respond. He's not saying there should be no public confession; he's saying that that public confession should be baptism, a deeply symbolic act with roots that go back all the way to the Exodus and Creation itself, rather than an altar call, an act that has its roots in 19th century American revivalism.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 8, 2011

By the way, to Manuel Mapa and Steven Farless, the article does not question the integrity of pastors who give altar calls, either subtly or otherwise. The article quite clearly questions the integrity of the altar call itself. Do you really want to bind yourself so closely to a practice that is not even found in the Bible that you feel "indignation and rightly so" when that extra-Biblical practice is challenged? This isn't personal, and there is no need to make it so. If, as I mentioned earlier, you have really listened to the objections, and like the Bereans, searched the Scriptures to see whether these things are so or not, then you have acted with integrity, and you don't need to feel offended by the article. In the end, whether a pastor gives an altar call or not is not nearly as important as the way one reaches that conviction. The question is, am I going to follow things like tradition, or what happened to me when I was 15, or what Billy Graham did? Or am I going to test these things by what the Bible says?

John Faleye

commented on Jun 9, 2011

I don't think there is anything anti-Bible about the practice of Altar Calls. If anything, its one of several ways we encourage people to respond to what they've heard. In my church, our Pastor invites respondents to come forward, and he turns them over to a group of spirit-filled elders who take them over to the Prayer Chapel for one-on-one counselling and prayer. If all a pastor does is invite people to the front, prays with and for them, and releases them "into the wind" without some sort of plan for follow-up and discipleship, I wonder just how many of those respondents fall within the group of those who "make a decision, but never really committed themselves to discipleship." I work with junior highers, and I personally don't practice "altar calls" in the traditional sense. I don't want my students regarding "becoming a Christian" as nothing more than praying a scripted prayer. Instead, I encourage them to come up to one of my adult counselors, who'll talk to them one-on-one to discern the frame of mind of the student and minister appropriately. Sometimes a student will come forward, not to accept Jesus, but because they have a deeper question about faith in Jesus. Imagine if an adult rushed to pray with a kid about receiving Jesus, and he or she is thinking, "I just had a question about what it would mean to become a Christian." I've heard some people say, "It's all about getting people to the altars...," and I wonder to myself, "what does that mean?" My job is to proclaim the Word in partnership with the Holy Spirit who works on the hearts of the respondent and moves them to respond. My goal is not to get as many students to the altars. My goal is to see a hunger and passion for God created in the hearts of students. I know it's a controversial issue in the church today... I just think we all need to be sure that we're doing what honors God, and positions people to hear and respond in faith.

Steve Farless

commented on Jun 9, 2011

Brother Fernando, I must apologize for our perceived defensive tone; if there is any defensiveness from our posts it?s not due to the article, but the criticism of respondents simply doing what they were asked by the question, ?What do you think about Kelly?s list?? I haven?t perceived from any responses defensiveness about altar calls themselves, if anything; everyone seems to be pretty secure with them. I think that the biggest reason for so many posts is that we really didn?t expect this stuff on sermoncentral. I love being challenged, and it?s my lot in life to do so, but the assertions in the list are flat out ridiculous, the list implies actual conclusions that do directly reflect on pastors who use altar calls, and could be applied to any other function in the church. Other than that; may we endeavor not to partially replace baptism any longer (cheap shot in humor:-), but seriously, may we all be used as fishers of men however the Lord desires to use us J

Mark Dunn

commented on Jun 9, 2011

When beginning a list of ten reasons, you should lead off with a compelling reason. Here Anyabwile led off with the wrong reason. His #1 reason is an argument from silence--a classic misstep in logic. Anyabwile wants to use biblical silence to speak against altar calls. Others can appeal to the same "silence" to support the use of altar calls, since the Bible does not prohibit them. What a place to be in--arguing over what the Bible means when it is silent. Anyabwile's argument is based on human logic AND human preference NOT biblical authority. Can we now trust his biblical conclusions? Does he really express truth in his hypothetical statements? Altar calls are one of many tools to lead people to commitment in Christ. They are still effective with some people in some situations. Why not use all the tools we have available? The take away from the article is that there may be or could be, hypothetically speaking, some improper uses, or unintended consequences attatched to altar calls. Maybe an article on the wise use of altar calls or creative uses of altar calls would be more believeable.

Chok Nam Koo

commented on Jun 9, 2011

I think the arguments are rather weak. If 'absence' or 'silence' in the Scriptures means unbiblical, then pews shouldn't be used, musical instruments such as piano, guitar, or technical equipments are wrong to be used in church as well. So long as altar calls are properly conducted with godly motives, I think it should be encouraged. However I'm against using altar call to manipulate people.

Graham Webster

commented on Jun 10, 2011

10 Reasons why altar calls are essential when the Word of God is preached -my family and myself saved in that manner- a man with an experience always has an advantage over a man with a theory - put that in your stinking pipe and smoke it

Jeff Grindle

commented on Jun 10, 2011

If you would like to experience the other end of the spectrum on how you should manipulate an altar call, take a gander at evangelist Jayrette Aycock's booklet "Drawing the Net". It is out of print but can be found online at www.raptureready.com/resource/aycock/

Charles Gibbs

commented on Jun 10, 2011

I'm glad Billy Graham didn't think this way.

Brian Lewis

commented on Jun 10, 2011

To each their own I guess. But I do an alter call with every public worship service. I am called to Shepard my flock. This includes walking those who don't have a relationship with Christ through that process.

Timothy Lee

commented on Jun 10, 2011

My pastor's preaching combined with the hunger of a 17 year old's sinsaturated heart necesitated an altar call. I personally would have felt robbed if I was not given some way to respond to what God was doing in my life. I still remember vividly what happened to me at an altar 25 years ago next month. It also gave opportunity for prayer people to see my demonstarted desire for God. Thus, giving them opportunity to passionately prayer for me. Is everyone in the audience who is prayerful and burden for souls suppose to receive the gift of discernment so they can scan the audience to find people who they can prayerfully assist through the process of deliverance? I think this article is an extreme example of bad theology, bad evangelism, and has the hint that we should just be a club or organization that requires membership and dues. I think people need to be born again to enter the kingdom of God and I believe the altar experience is very helpful for many people in begnning this journey.

Kevin Elswick

commented on Jun 10, 2011

I know what D.L. Moody would say because I have read his answer before. He said that one Sunday morning he had preached his heart out and the message was long and he would just let people go home and he could finish it that night or next Sunday. (I can?t remember which.) That night the great Chicago Fire happened and many people lost their lives in the fire. Had he given an alter call, maybe some of the people who ended up dying that night might have been saved. He never preached again without giving an alter call or invitation, whatever you want to call it. I think that is stead of not giving an alter call, we should start with one. There is way too much dust on our altars. Our altars should be a place for tears

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 10, 2011

To Graham Webster, no, you are wrong. A man with an experience certainly does NOT have the advantage over a man with a theory. Both the experience and the theory must be tested by careful study and reflection on God's Word. If one man's theory is consistent with Scriptures and another man's experience is not, then sorry, the man with the theory has the advantage in this case.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 10, 2011

To Timothy Lee: Here are a couple of quotes which Mr. Anyabwile uses to close his article: "[T]he need to be pastorally careful and sensitive with the souls of men needing to repent and believe couldn?t be more urgent." "By God?s grace we?re seeing people converted and profess their faith in baptism as the Spirit opens their hearts." Doesn't sound like he's talking about a club. Sounds like he's pretty serious about conversion and "being born again." And I think it is unfair of you to characterize him otherwise, simply because he doesn't believe in using a practice that is not even found in the Bible. Again, I really believe many of you are reading more into this article than what he is actually saying.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 10, 2011

I mentioned before that I have no conviction either for or against giving an altar call. But I have a question for those arguing along the lines that you or someone you know was "saved" during an altar call: Do you really believe that God could not have saved you in ANY OTHER WAY? Do you really believe he is that limited?

Mark Dunn

commented on Jun 10, 2011

@ Fernando Villegas... One wonders if you are really reading the responses or just want to disagree. Again, you cannot cite biblical support where the Bible is silent. You then make the Bible say something that it does not say. You don't have a case against altar calls by saying they are never mentioned in the Bible. Chok Nam Koo (@ 82) pointed out some other implications of depending on arguments from silence. The Bible has neither prohibited nor sanctioned altar calls. The wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit are necessary in the use of altar calls. The same can be said about every tool and tactic used to draw people to Christ. Further, aren't you just a little concerned that Anyabwile talks about faith IN baptism? What happened to faith in Jesus? The commands are to trust in Jesus (John 14:1) and be baptized (Acts 2:38). The Bible is not silent about faith or baptism, nor is it unclear.

Larry East

commented on Jun 11, 2011

Interesting that this article appears near the week that we remember Pentecost. The "first" invitation to come to Christ after a sermon was given in Jerusalem after Peter preached what we call the first gospel sermon. After the message, there were many who asked the question, "What must we do?" after hearing that they were responsible for hanging Jesus on the cross. Peter then gave the first invitation, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins." And then, 3000 responded to that invitation, and 3000 new Christians were born. I think there are multiple times in Acts where the message is preached and then an "invitation" is given to accept Christ. And because of those invitations, many came to know Christ as their Savior. For that reason alone, I will never preach a sermon without an invitation at the end. Granted, that invitation doesn't always come in the sanctuary, it can come at any place where the gospel is preached or taught (e.g., in a chariot on the road; in a jail after an earthaquake, etc). But we are called to win souls and we must not neglect to call men and women to repentance and salvation.

Hal Jones

commented on Jun 11, 2011

One of the arrows in the devils arsenal is "doubt". Taking a public stand in front of others helps remove the doubt that a decision was ever made in the service. Valid points are made about some ministries doing a poor job of altar calls, and teaching true salvation (faith in Christ alone). However, calling someone to make a decision may save them from a life in hell. "He that hath an ear, let him hear while the Spirit speaketh". Who knows-they may never have another chance to accept Christ.

Bill Davis

commented on Jun 12, 2011

Thanks for a thoughtful and thought-provoking article. I grew up in a church that had an altar call every service, and in the early part of my pastoral ministry I always included an altar call. I now serve a church where altar calls have been a rarity; while I still give an altar call occasionally, I no longer regard it as mandatory. I have found that not having an altar call every week helps give greater import to those altar calls that I do give. Perhaps more importantly, not having an altar call helps me to focus the congregation's response outward. Rather than always being invited to respond by coming forward to receive for themselves, they are encouraged to respond by going out and living the gospel in the world. It is important to note that the article does not say that altar calls should never be given; nor does it call into question the integrity of those pastors who give altar calls. It challenges pastors to be prayerful and sensitive in determining how to call a congregation to respond to God's Word, rather than automatically giving an altar call every time as if this were a biblical mandate. Scripture provides numerous examples of how prophets, priests, and preachers called hearers to respond - some of which could be seen as a precursor to the modern altar call, but just as many were radically different. P.S. to FERNANDO VILLEGAS: thank you for your responses to the critics of the article; you have been more gracious than I think I could be. I hope and pray that these critics do not interpret the Word of God in the same careless and self-serving way that they have interpreted this article.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 14, 2011

Mark Dunn, if you're still reading, I don't think you understand the point I'm trying to make. I've stated that I have no conviction either for or against altar calls. In fact, I'll concede that it is possible that there are some here who have learned how to give altar calls without falling into the abuses that were listed. If that is your case, and your conscience is clear before God, then more power to you, and don't take anything that either I or Mr. Anyawbile write personally. And I'm not arguing from silence: just because the Bible doesn't mention altar calls does not make them wrong. But what it DOES do is make them open to being challenged by careful study and reflection on God's Word. Is this really the wise thing to do? That's all this article is trying to say. And I find it disturbing that many have either said or implied that just because Mr. Anyabwile does not believe the practice is wise, that he is not committed to evangelism. So I agree with you that altar calls are not inherently bad simply because they are not mentioned in the Bible (by the way, there were nine other reasons in the list, most of which no one has really responded to). But will you agree with me that they also are not inherently good simply because Billy Graham used them or someone's family got saved by them? Is it not possible that there are other ways (and therefore possibly better ways) that God can use to accomplish the same purpose? I sincerely would like to hear your response.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 14, 2011

One more thing. You wrote the following: "Further, aren't you just a little concerned that Anyabwile talks about faith IN baptism? What happened to faith in Jesus?" To respond to that specific question, as I hope you will to mine, here is Mr. Anyabwile's full statement: "By God?s grace we?re seeing people converted and profess their faith in baptism as the Spirit opens their hearts." The way I understand him, he is using the preposition "in" in the sense of "through" or "by means of." In other words, the way these people are professing their faith is by means of being baptized, as opposed to walking down an aisle at the end of a sermon and repeating a prayer. This reading especially makes sense in light of reason number 5: "The altar call partially replaces baptism as the means of public profession of faith." I don't read him as saying their faith is IN baptism itself. I might be wrong, but I'd rather give him the benefit of the doubt. But this is an illustration of what I was referring to earlier, taking something he says and reading into it something that's probably not there, especially if you take it in the context of the entire article.

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 14, 2011

Hal Jones, would you not agree that being baptized would qualify as taking a public stand in front of others? Wouldn't baptism accomplish removing those doubts that a decision was made? Neither the article nor people like myself or Mr. Davis are calling for the elimination of altar calls. But for those who believe that altar calls are NECESSARY for taking a public stand, then reason number 5 is indeed applicable: they have (at least) partially replaced baptism with the altar call as the means of public profession of faith.

Jerome Castillo

commented on Jun 14, 2011

I don't this article glorifies God because it causes argument and much more than that division.Sound words and Spirit filled messages built unity among believers.....so better remove this article In Jesus name!

Fernando Villegas

commented on Jun 15, 2011

Jerome, why is it that the article should be removed? Why not the comments? That's where the argument is taking place. And of course, I don't believe either the comments or the article should be removed. I know there are people who don't like arguments, but arguments in and of themselves are not necessarily bad, IF they are handled in a Christ-like Spirit. We're dealing here with an issue in which the Bible is silent; and thus the question is not so much whether altar calls are right or wrong, but whether they are wise, or whether there are other practices that are more consistent with Scripture that God can use to accomplish the same purpose. Mr. Anyabwile has made an argument for the latter. Now people are free to disagree and to present their reasons why they disagree, but I feel there are some on here who have taken that a step forward and treated him unfairly, twisting his words and meanings and accusing him of things such as not being committed to evangelism. That is where the REAL division is taking place, I believe.

Martha Beamer

commented on Jun 16, 2011

Great article! I concur that the altar call as we know it in general is not scriptural. Yes, the message of John followed by Jesus was (still is) to repent and be baptized. Baptism is the sign of the New Covenant just as circumcision was the sign of the O.T. covenantal relationship. Repentance and baptism are the mandates...not an altar call. Billy Graham was mentioned...certainly, he offered a call to discipleship and he espoused it was necesssary to come forward for all to see....again, not scriptural BUT for those who responded and repented, I surely hope they were counseled to be baptized. Baptism is the sign of salvation, which the NT makes clear.

Juanita Gilbo=ricard

commented on Jun 28, 2011

The church I grew up in was The Salvation Army and to me it was the greatest. But of course all churches that teach the Bible correctly are the greatest. I believe The Altar Call is very important and no service is complete without one. On Sunday mornings we had Holiness meeting which was geared towards Christians, and Sunday Night was Salvation meeting, geared towards sinners. Twice a week we had Open Air Service, and we had altar calls in those too. I saw a man who was so drunk he could not stand up kneel at our bass drum (which we used as an altar in open air services) kneel and accept Jesus as Savior and when he stood back up he was as sober as if he had never taken a drink. I have seen many victories from folk at the altar and have personally led people to Jesus. I believe every service should have an invitation time. You never know when there will be someone there who is receiving their last opportunity to accept Jesus that they will ever receive. I have visite some churches that do not have an altar. I think that is a shame. After all our sole purpose on this earth is glorifying God and leading souls to Him. No matter where we are, church, home, store,school, work, wherever we should be willing and able as God grants the opportunity to lead someone to Him. Everyplace can be an altar.

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