Monday, September 10, 2012

Tips for a Biblical Altar Call

"What tips could you give to a pastor wanting to do a biblical altar call?”

Below are some notes from Friday's show that we didn't get to share on-air. You can watch the entire episode "How to Botch an Altar Call" on YouTube: 

Some altar call tips:
o   In the truest sense, do a “Gospel” Call, not an “Altar” Call. It’s more than semantics. Most altar calls call people to the altar, but not to obey the gospel. They are geared to get people to lift a hand or come to the front—and in an effort to get that quick response they tragically tend to pass up preaching the gospel. The goal isn’t to get a hand raise, it’s to preach “the power of God to salvation” and call people to obey the gospel through repenting/believing. Make sure your altar call speaks of the law, the cross, and repentance/faith for the forgiveness of sins.
o   Use the Law to help you preach the Gospel. Share the bad news to the patient so they will appreciate the good news of the cure. The Law is a schoolmaster, makes sin exceedingly sinful, tells us what sin is, and converts the soul.
o   Preach to sinners, not to saints. A major pitfall that pastors fall into is they can forget to speak directly to the unbeliever. With all the focus on preparing for the sermon (for believers), the altar call often gets overlooked and put on cruise control. It’s common to forget that this is possibly the last opportunity some will have to hear the gospel. Preach just like you’d witness to someone on their deathbed.
o   Don’t skim over the gospel and push the prayer. Don’t assume the lost naturally understand what Christ has done for them. The “Sinner’s Prayer” is not in the Bible; it’s not against the Bible either, it’s just not in there—if you choose to use this technique make sure it complements the gospel command and doesn’t commandeer it.
o   Preach Jesus as a life rescuer not a life enhancer. Don’t tell them Jesus will improve their life but rather share that He’s the only One who can forgive their sins and save them from Hell. Anyone can turn down a party without a second thought, but who would turn away a reprieve from the Judge.
o   Don’t preach forgiveness without repentance. Otherwise no one will know how to be forgiven. (A prayer doesn’t save anyone: only faith and repentance do.)
o   Make sure they feel that today is the day of salvation, not next Sunday. Make them feel it’s urgent to repent today.
o   Don’t take the gospel lightly. Present the truth as the truth. Don’t be so funny when you share Christ that you belittle the seriousness of the matter.
o   Encourage your church to use your altar calls as a reminder to pray for the unbelievers present in service as well as to use them as a weekly object lesson to learn how to witness. Encourage them to listen to what you say and they will know how to witness to anyone (so long as it’s done biblically).

For more info we have a free article in our “Free Tools” section of called “How to Botch an Altar Call” that has some more tips.