A number of posts ago, I indicated that I would, at some point in the future, post some thoughts on altar calls in specific, on contemporary evangelical methodology in general. Now is a good time as any to begin.

I find it interesting how relatively late in church history that it became, for the most part, the de facto contemporary evangelical methodology. Here, a little knowledge of church history illuminates. As far as I have been able to determine, and I am not a scholar, seminarian, or student of church history, the altar call methodology was not widely instituted until the early and mid eighteen-hundreds. Charles Finney, with his ‘new measures’ is most directly responsible for contemporary evangelical methodology. It is somehow ironic that his legacy and influence reverberates ever so strongly and much of the laity has never heard of him.

I think an abbreviated history of Finney and his new measures is perhaps in order. Finney, a lawyer who came to faith on October 10th in the 1821 after years of unbelief, became a Presbyterian minister. Part of the process of becoming ordained involved professing adherence to the Westminster Confession of Faith. He later admitted that he was almost totally ignorant of what the document taught. [Charles Finney, The Memoirs of Charles Finney: The Complete Restored Text (Grand Rapids: Academie, 1989), 53-54]

Finney also rejects Calvinism, perhaps as a response to what may be called an errant strain of Calvinism called hyper-Calvinism that he had been exposed to and perhaps by which, ironically, he was led to a profession of faith in Christ. It, too, must be understood that the great revivals, the Great Awakening, had been through preachers and theologians such as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield, staunchly Calvinists in their understanding of grace. Finney also entertained ideas errant and dangerous. Essentially, from what I gather, he denied the scope of the Fall and taught what seems to be a justification by works. He appears to constantly downplay God’s sovereign role in salvation. His theology turns the eyes of the heart from God to a focus on a seemingly ‘not-so-fallen’ humanity. Finney essentially denied the atoning work of Christ on the cross.  Therein we find egregious harm and error, the seeds of which seem to be in full bloom in this age and time. While evangelicals would reject Finney’s errant theology if they were aware of it, they heartily embrace his evangelical methodology.

What Finney popularized in his aforementioned ‘new measures’ was the precursor and close cousin to the altar call, the ‘anxious bench’ and ‘mourner’s bench’. What Finney taught was that revival could be ‘worked up’ through psychological and emotional inducements. Revival did not need to be altogether prayed down as much as worked up.

Going back to altar calls, which are just one expression of an overarching methodology of psychological and emotional manipulation, those who have been in conservative evangelical churches, be they mega or small, be they Baptist or charismatic, be they traditional or contemporary, have often been exposed to calls to come forward to the altar. Many have responded to altar calls, sometimes more than once. Some have come to a redeeming faith in Christ through altar calls. Often, those who give altar calls present the Gospel message completely and without compromise.

What many altar calls and variants thereof do, however, is often introduce non-biblical language, non-biblical conditions, and non-biblical calls to salvation. What some altar calls do, also, is offer an easy grace, a salvation seemingly without cost, without an inferred need for repentance. What altar calls may sometimes do is give those who respond a false sense of security because they were actually never presented with the Gospel and therefor never actually came into a redeeming relationship with Christ. Also, many studies and statistics have shown that only a very small percentage, mostly in the single digits, of those who respond to altar calls during crusades and revivals actually remain actively involved in the faith for more than a year. They simply seem to drop out of sight and fall back into their ‘pre-decision’ lifestyles. We must remember that the biblical call to evangelize, the Great Commission, is to make disciples, not just converts, real or otherwise.

Following are a few examples of misleading evangelical methods. Many calls to the altar proclaim that Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life if one would just respond to the call, raise your hand, or say a prayer. Well, Jesus may not have a wonderful plan for your life as many would count wonderful. Such is never promised in the canon of Scripture. His plan for you may be quite difficult and not without cost. The Messiah’s calls to discipleship were not easy calls. What would the martyr Steven say about Christ offering you ‘your best life now?’ Would such an inducement work in the Sudan? Would such and inducement work in China? We are not called to press an ‘easy button’ for redemption. Sadly, I have actually seen, on more than one occasion and at more than one location Jesus being referred to as the ‘easy button’ to salvation.

I have heard other calls to salvation go thusly: “If you cannot remember the moment you were saved, now is the time to ‘nail it down.’” Such is not a biblical call to salvation. The only times that I recall the New Testament calling one’s salvation into question is the lack of observable growth, of spiritual fruit, over the long term in ones life. What is introduced in the context of the call to ‘nail it down’ is a false, unbiblical condition for salvation. To emotionally manipulate someone into making a decision based on doubts about the veracity of or inability to recall an earlier decision bought about by emotional manipulation is both ironic and unbiblical. If you have repented of sin and trust in the grace and redeeming work of Christ alone for salvation, you have it ‘nailed down’ and will persist in His grip whether or not you remember the point in time you first came to trust in Christ.

I have heard other calls to salvation infer that if one does not respond to this particular call, you may never get another chance to ‘decide’ for Christ, that this particular ‘move of God’ must be acted upon now for you may never get another opportunity. What is inferred in this manipulative scheme is that there is a time stamp on the grace of God. If you do not come forward now or raise your hand or say a prayer, you may never be wooed by the Holy Spirit again. At best, this is unbiblical. The call to grace and redemption through Christ only expires when one departs this tent of flesh.

I could go on with more examples of unbiblical and emotionally manipulative methods that I have personally witnessed, but my point is clear. Too, I am absolutely not inferring any ill will is intended by those who use such methods. I am not intending to cast doubt on their love and commitment to Christ. The use of such methods is more born out of perhaps ignorance and perhaps out of a denominational tradition. Without regard to intent, what is happening, though, is that the Gospel is all too often presented in an often unbiblical way, much like the hard pitch of a used car salesman. Do people sometimes come to redemption, to a saving knowledge of Christ through such methods? Sometimes, perhaps more than one would expect, this methodology produces fruit. God can and does sometimes use the one drop of truth in an ocean of error. Sometimes one may run around holding a metal rod during a thunder storm and not get struck by lightening. Does this mean that doing such is a good idea?

More recently, perhaps in the last couple of decades, we have seen the nature of the church being inverted and redefined in some quarters of western Christendom. Rather than going out into the world to make disciples, Christ’s call to the Great Commission and the nature and constituency of the church had been turned upside down. Now, congregates are now often being instructed to bring the world into a recalibrated church so that a charismatic (not using the word in the theological and Pentecostal sense, but referring to a commanding personality) pastor can present what is hopefully a faithful call to the Gospel. Bring in your ‘unchurched’ friends and family and we’ll get them saved is the inferred contract. (Note with absolute confidence that I am definitely not saying that is wrong to invite the unsaved to church.) Inducements are introduced to the church to make it more attractive to the ‘unchurched.’ Topical and often entertaining sermons that cater to one’s felt needs replaces sound expository preaching. Give away everything from IPods to motorcycles during the service to draw people through the doors. There is actually a church that gave away an Orange County Choppers custom motorcycle to induce people to come to church. The question is this: Is the clarion call of the word of God, faithfully proclaimed, not enough? Did the apostle Paul deem it necessary to give away camels and tents to bait people to the Gospel? The apostles fished with nets.

Why is it that many advisers to church planters (and sometimes the pastors, themselves) appear, as evidenced by their websites, to be more instructors on marketing and product placement than proclaimers of the Gospel? What has happened with the best of intentions is that more and more churches, modeled more on secular business and leadership practices than on biblical mandates are becoming more and more consumer driven. If a service conflicts with the Super Bowl, then the church will reschedule so that attendance does not decline. Increasing numbers of churches are opening up coffee shops in the church to draw in the crowds. Churches put up fountains that dispense chocolate and give massages to moms on Mothers Day to draw people into church. What ends up being engaged, again with the best of intentions, is a ‘bait and switch’ evangelical methodology that plays to our self-indulgence. Can such a church survive without creative and witty video introductions to topical sermons that constantly draw on popular culture references? Can it survive with a less than professional band? Can it present a message of hope and reconciliation with God through Christ without framing everything between a pastor’s personal and often humorous anecdotes? Does such a church depend too much on human creativity and effort and perhaps not enough on the power of His word? When all that is peripheral is stripped away, what is such a church left with? I remember running across this quote from another blog: “What you draw people with is what you draw them to.” How do I reconcile Christ’s call to die to self in the face of chocolate fountains and easy buttons in church?

Perhaps I am way off base, but much of contemporary evangelical and ecclesiastical methodology, in all its applaudable zeal, seems at times, unintentionally, to treat Jesus as a means to an end rather than an altogether and absolutely wonderful end in and of Himself. It as if Jesus is a prescription being dispensed a sick world. It is as if I have a fatal, systemic infection and am given a wonder drug, an antibiotic, and I am being told that all I have to do is take this drug and I will be healed. I may not develop an all encompassing love for this drug; I may love not being sick more than I love the drug. I may become more enamored with and focused on the one who gave me this drug than the drug itself.

I have stated, perhaps ad nausea, what I believe to be wrong with much of American evangelical methodology. What then do I propose is correct? I believe it is this: In the times the Gospel is preached in the New Testament where we have details of what is said, there is not one single example where anyone is told that the circumstances of their life will necessarily improve when they become disciples of Christ. What is recorded, though, is an absolute focus on and exaltation of Christ. We see the apostles going out into the world proving Christ from scripture. We see the condemnation of sin, the call to repentance, and proclamation of the absolute falleness of humanity. Solely proclaimed is faith in the atoning work of grace through Christ to restore rebellious humanity to the Savior. Such leads to a selfless life focused on Christ.

Again, as stated in a previous post, we must remember that Christ, incomprehensibly loved by the Father and Holy Spirit and sharing an incomprehensible unity within their Trinitarian relationship, condescended to take on human flesh and then looked down both barrels of Father God’s holy and incomprehensible and righteous fury over our sin; He faced Father God’s white-hot anger that should have been directed at His redeemed ones. He, the all mighty Creator of all, was beaten and scourged by the created. He was nailed to that horrific Roman torture and death machine, the cross, naked and shamed. He then gloriously defeated death by physically rising from the tomb. Why did He do this? He did it that we, His flock, may be, through His grace alone, clothed in His righteousness, that He may be glorified forever.


One thought on “Some thoughts, I hope not too pedantic, on evangelism

  1. Some thoughts on the contemporary phase of “making a decision for Christ” inviting people to “receive Jesus” , Or using the phrase: “God has a special plan for your life” as an invitation to make a decision to accept and follow Christ at the end of a church service, aka …….an altar call.

    Each time I hear an altar call asking to receive Christ or make a decision to follow Christ, I ask myself: What would compel the unbeliever to take that step?

    When we invite someone to make a decision for Christ or Invite Christ into their life, what is the reason we are asking that person to do so? It is something that should be not taken lightly. It is something that has more implications then simply praying a simple prayer.

    It has always troubled me as how many pastors, especially in the ever increasingly seeker friendly mega churches in America declare an altar call inviting people to receive Jesus. I try to look at it from an unbeliever’s ( non-Christian) point of view. They make it seem as simple as repeating a prayer or going for prayer at the altar usually with no mention of the Bible’s proclamation of ones lost condition before God and the absolute need for a Savior. They make it seem like a casual decision, one that will “change your life and begin an exciting journey”. ( there is some truth in this, but what does the Bible say about this?)

    Why would I want to follow Jesus and invite him into my life? What will the decision do for me? Will it make me more prosperous, healthy, give me more peace, happiness, safety, a more comfortable life, etc.?
    How will it benefit my life if I receive Jesus?

    Many say that we all have a hole or gap in our life , and only Jesus can fill that hole or gap . This is true. However, did Jesus come to earth and die on a cross to fill the emptiness in our life? (Jn 3:16)
    After I ‘receive” Jesus, what can I expect to happen, or not happen?

    Often, it is preached that we have all fallen short of the Glory of God or failed to keep Gods standards is why we need Jesus. But what exactly is the standard and why when most people will admit that they are not perfect, are still convinced that they are “good people” because their ‘good deeds” outway their “bad deeds”. Most people simply don’t understand the importance of getting right with God because they have fallen short of the Glory.

    Ask anyone: “ Would you consider yourself to be a good person?” You will almost always get the same answer……”YES”

    I believe that this way of thinking is dangerous and is due to a failure of the church to preach the “Full Counsel Of God”. We must indeed preach the Love and Mercy of God, BUT ALSO the holiness and righteousness of God which the Bible has LOTS to say about. Modern day listeners are preached a warm and fuzzy God of Love. Although God is Love, he is also a Holy, righteous Judge who will judge and send wrath upon an unbelieving world.

    “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” Hebrews 9:27

    In his famous sermon, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God”, Jonathan Edwards, shed light on the fact that God is an angry God, angry at sin……something that you will be hard pressed to hear in a modern day sermon.
    But the Bible, both Old & New Testament clearly portray the holiness, righteousness of God and his hatred of and punishment of sin.

    A Savior is someone who saves you from something.
    Why is Jesus called Savior? Because he came to save us from something. He died to save us from our sins, an angry God and Hell. He is just, righteous, and Holy and because he is so, will punish sin.

    Most people do not understand the holiness and righteousness of God.
    In America you will be hard pressed to find this subject mentioned or being preached in the comfortable environments we call church services.

    There is no doubt that America was once a great Christian nation. In fact, years ago the Bible was taught in public schools. Prayer and the teaching of the 10 commandments were a part of the daily school program. Most people generally respected the Bible and understood the meaning of sin and knew about Jesus Christ. There was an awareness of right and wrong. The foundation of the Gospel was inherent in American culture. That’s why evangelists could preach about sin and repentance and see thousands come to Christ.
    However, things are very different today in America and many other nations that had a Christian heritage. By and large the Bible and prayer are not allowed in government schools, and students by and large are taught that there is no God, and are taught that evolution is fact, and that science has proven the Bible wrong. Today when evangelists preach the message of sin and repentance, there are an increasing number of people who don’t understand what they’re talking about. I believe this is one reason absolute truth is being abandoned in this nation. People are not confident in the Bible truly being the Word Of God.
    If people were convinced that the Bible is the inerrant Word and can be trusted, and that God actually created the world in 6 literal 24 hour days, and did not use evolution in his creative process,( theistic evolution), that the SIN was the reason Adam and Eve were removed from the garden and SIN was reason for the worldwide flood in Noah’s day…….. perhaps the preaching of sin and repentance would make more sense. The teaching of evolution has caused one of the biggest barriers to people being responsive to the Gospel. If in peoples minds, science has proven the Bible wrong, why should they listen when you talk about the message of the cross? I have found that if you refute evolutionary arguments, and show that the Bibles account of creation can logically be defended, they’ll often listen to the Gospel.

    Many people think because they have not murdered or have been faithful in their marriage that they are “ok” and that God will weigh their good deeds with their bad deeds and hopefully they will come out ok and be saved. This is a lie from Satan, and will keep many from being saved.

    “..I would not have known sin, EXCEPT THROUGHT THE LAW, for I would not have know covetousness unless the law had said , “You shall not covet”. Romans 7:7

    But the Bible paints a very different picture about our condition before God. Regarding the commandments, Jesus raised the stakes considerably when he preached about adultery for example. He said that if you even look at a woman with lust in your heart, you have committed adultery!!! (7th commandment) So even though I think I am good because I have not been “unfaithful” to my wife, when I look at a young beautiful woman in a lustful manner, or view pornography, God views it as adultery, thus breaking his command.

    Jesus was trying to emphasize the huge gap between our “righteousness” and Gods righteousness and standard which we will be judged by, primarily the 10 Commandments, and the fact that we all miss the mark, unable to keep the law. ( …..fallen short of the Glory…)

    I am cautious about people who put a higher emphasis on physical manifestations and experiences than sound doctrine to demonstrate that God is in the house. If this is not accompanied by sound doctrine leading to true conversion and salvation, it is in vain and only entertains the flesh, and often produces false converts. If sound doctrine is accompanied by signs and wonders…then Glory to God!

    If one is miraculously healed but is not ‘born again” they will not enter the kingdom of God.

    Jesus said “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again ”
    John 3:3

    Whether we are going on a mission trip to help the poor, or talking about the Lord at work, we are commanded to share the good news and make disciples of all nations. ( including the dying nation of the United States Of America)

    But why is it called the Good news? If you walk up to a person and tell them the good news that Jesus died for them and ask if they would like to invite him into their heart as Lord and Savior, how do you think they will react? Will it be good news to them?

    “..For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” 1 Corinthians 1:18

    But go to that same street corner and gently, lovingly start talking about God…his Holiness & Righteousness, sin, death, judgement, etc. In other words give them the bad news first. They may reject you because it is human nature to reject that we have sinned against a Holy God. But, if they are receptive………then the Gospel will truly be Good News and if they respond, they will RUN to the cross of Christ to be saved. They will clearly understand why they are making the decision to repent and follow Christ.

    I believe that preaching the good news ( Gospel) should always be followed by preaching the “bad news” ( righeousness, holiness of God , sin & the lost condition of man, and why the need for a savior).

    Law to the proud, Grace to the humble.

    We would all like to see supernatural things happen, but even if their were no signs, wonders and miracles, but lives were transformed onto repentance, conversion, and salvation; this is real revival or great awakening. I believe Jonathan Edwards nailed it right on the head with his “ Sinners in the hands of an angry God” sermon. There were many transformed lives. When someone who was lost and a slave to sin, living as an enemy of God, repents and comes to forgiveness through Jesus, is filled with the Spirit of God, and the result is a completely transformed life……let us not forget that this is a miracle.
    The message carried by the Holy Spirit confirmed onto the listeners that they were all lost, and already condemned and will face a holy, righteous and yes, angry God at judgment, ( bad news), but that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, and that through him they could have their sins forgiven, be born again and live a changed victorious, fruitful life. ( good news)
    ( and then discover and follow Gods “Plan for their life”

    “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” Hebrews 9:27

    Not everyone agrees with that assessment however. Human depravity is at once the most empirically verifiable reality and the most philosophically resistant. In spite of the overwhelming evidence on the front pages of the newspaper as well as the deep recesses of our hearts, many people refuse to accept the notion that we are sinners facing God’s judgment. Without the acknowledgement of the bad news, their can be no acceptance of the good news.

    To invite someone to follow the Savior simply by saying that God has a great plan for your life, is doing a grave injustice to the Gospel and if not accompanied with the bad news /good news, produces false converts, weak “believers” and confusion regarding ones sinful condition before a Holy God.

    If turning to the person to the right of you, in answer to the altar call, and ask them if they would like to go forward to receive Jesus because he has “ a great plan for your life”, are we being true to scripture in proclaiming the full counsel of God and does that person really grasp what it means and may cost to make a decision for Christ? If they ask Jesus into their heart, but that heart is not a heart of repentance, then what kind of a conversion will they have? They will be happy for a while waiting on God to reveal his “plan” for their lives, often to be disappointed when any sort of trial comes. If they have not been convicted by the Holy Spirit and broken by the Holiness and Righteousness of God, and turn to the Savior in true repentance, their “conversion” will be short lived and do much damage to unbelievers in their sphere of influence. I am embarrassed when I hear a generic seeker friendly altar call invite, to ask my unbelieving friend who came to church with me to go forward and receive Christ when he or she are unclear as to why they need a Savior.

    Jonathan Edwards did not leave out the “bad news scriptures”, Jesus talked more about Hell and judgment than he did about Heaven, It is time Pastors preach the full counsel of God in their salvation invitation speech to invite sinners , who are confused about right and wrong, ( relative truth) to come and receive Jesus. The good news is not about happiness or comfort for us in this life, it is about righteousness before a Holy God through faith in Christ.

    Look what Paul wrote in Romans :

    “..I would not have known sin, EXCEPT THROUGHT THE LAW, for I would not have know covetousness unless the law had said , “You shall not covet”. Romans 7:7

    Most men would not consider lusting after a woman, or viewing pornography as Adultery, but God does.

    “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed ADULTERY with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into HELL.”
    Matthew 5:27-29

    It’s time Pastors assume that there are unbelievers and false converts in the pews at their services
    and spend several closing minutes preaching the full counsel of God (evangelizing) prior to an altar
    call and invitation to Christ.
    If done, I believe they would not even have to ask people to come up front, many would run to the
    Savior having been convicted by the Word and Spirit of their lost condition and the essential
    need for a Savior.

    There has to be a difference in the way we preach to Christians and how we preach to unbelievers.

    What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 2 Corinthians 6:15

    Many sarcastically say that there are too many hypocrites in the church today as an excuse not to attend church. I agree and believe that weak preaching and wrong doctrine has led to this. Lives that have really been confronted with the Holiness of God, lead to true repentance. When one comes to the truth that they are lost and will stand before a Holy God, they will run to the Cross of the Savior to be washed in the lambs Blood for forgiveness, they will be truly transformed. Perfect? No. But transformed and authentic Christians.

    The Bible states that if we were to keep the whole law, yet stumble in one part, we are guilty of breaking the whole law. WOW!! Gods standards are very high. He views sin much differently than we do. Humans take sin too lightly. The Cross shows us the Love of God, but it also reveals to us how much God hates sin.

    “ For whosoever shall keep the whole law and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” James 2:10

    If people are not convinced that they are lost, how will they be convinced that they need a Savior and need to be saved?

    Preaching the “full counsel of God” carried along by the Spirit will convict people of their need for a Savior. When we do this (bad news) and then preach the Gospel ( good News), we will not even have to ask if they want to pray or receive Jesus or have an altar call……they will run to the Cross as if their life depended on it.

    Another illustration: Christian trying to witness to a lost friend. Sinner is at bar drinking, and Christian knows he is an alcoholic.

    C: Hey John, how’s it going?
    S: Good
    C: Did I ever tell you I used to be an alcoholic, and hang out in bars, ended up spending all my money, and losing the love of my life over?
    S: No
    C: Yeah, that was before I met God.

    It is usually at this time that Christian tries to tell friend about God, his wonderful plan, and ask friend if he would like to received Jesus. The Spirit can definetly use this approach, if the time was appointed, and the heart was prepared, and IF ANOTHER ONE PLANTED A SEED. What do I mean another planted a seed. You see, the Bible says that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. This should give us a clue as to Biblical evangelism. The friend will not receive the things of God readily. Why? Because he is happy in his life of sin. His lifestyle pleases the flesh. He is living in rebellion to God and his laws, and as far as he is concerned , he is happy with that. He needs to be convicted of his NEED to repent and why he must turn to the Savior. When I became a Christian and forsake the drinking, womanizing, cursing, etc. All my former “friends” viewed my repentance and new life as a loss, somehow missing out of life, missing out in the fun. They did not look upon forsaking a sinful life that is displeasing to God as a good thing…because they did not know what that their current lifestyle was storing up wrath for the wrath that is to come in the eyes of a Holy God, and that the penalty is Hell!!!

    So, generally speaking, going up to someone who is happily living in sin, and telling them that before you met God, you did the same things, and now your life is so much better…is a grave error in trying to see souls saved.

    “The LAW of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple” Psalm 19:7

    “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for BY THE LAW IS THE KNOWLEDGE OF SIN” Romans 3:20

    “..I would not have known sin, EXCEPT THROUGHT THE LAW, for I would not have know covetousness unless the law had said , “You shall not covet”. Romans 7:7

    “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death”
    Proverbs 16:25

    “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” Hebrews 9:27

    Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:10-12

    Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” John 3:36

    “…..he who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given of his Son” 1 John 5:10

    But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; …”
    Isaiah 64:6

    “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us …” Titus 3:5

    Friend, as sure as you live and breathe according to the Bible if you die without Jesus Christ …..
    in flames. . . (Luke 16:24) in torment . . . (Luke 16:24 ) for ever. . . (Matt. 25:41)

    Good people do not enter Heaven……FOREGIVEN people enter Heaven.

    How to botch an alter call (what not to do if you want to see souls saved)
    From: Living Waters Ministries, Ray Comfort

    (A few keys for those who don’t want people saved in their altar calls)
    1. Present an unbalanced message. Only let them see the heart-warming part of God’s character. Preach God’s love but leave out His holiness and justice. That way they’ll think He’ll let them into heaven no matter what.
    2. Don’t mention repentance until they’re repeating a “sinner’s prayer.” Just get them to say, “I repent of all my sins” while they’re echoing you. They won’t know what they’re saying and they won’t count the cost.
    3. Above all else, be dignified. Don’t get heart to heart with the people. They would get something out of what you said.
    4. Skim over the gospel and push the prayer. Pretend the lost naturally understand what Christ has done for them.
    5. Preach Jesus as a life enhancer not a life rescuer. Tell them how Jesus can improve their life but don’t show them Jesus as the only One who can save them from Hell. People will think if they reject Him they’re only losing out on a spiritual high.
    6. Try to please the people instead of convert them. Tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.
    7. Compromise the message to speed up the process. The Christians who have heard it a hundred times before will be pleased with that. The quicker they get out the quicker they can get to the restaurant.
    8. Give them the impression that God is so good He won’t send anyone to hell. Don’t present the whole counsel of God or they might realize He is so good that He’ll see to it that justice is served and that all unrepentant sinners will be punished in the fire that is not quenched.
    9. Speak to sinners as though they were saints. They’ll think they’re God’s children instead of the enemies of God they’ve made themselves into because of their sin. You’ll give them false assurance and mislead them.
    10. Don’t mention sin or man’s guilt. Resist the urge to explain what Christ came to deliver us from. Don’t show them their need for the Savior. Otherwise it may all make sense.
    11. Don’t look to the Bible for the substance of your altar call. Only mimic other preachers with large congregations.
    12. Tell the lost not to feel bad about their sins. That way you will work against the Holy Spirit who’s convicting them
    13. Whatever you do, never mention Judgment Day. Your audience might take spiritual matters seriously.
    14. Tell them Jesus is the only way to heaven but don’t explain why. They may think it’s nothing more than fear tactics and leave offended instead of enlightened.
    15. Confuse the call. This is a great way to botch up an altar call. Don’t let people know you’re asking them to commit their life to Christ. Be vague and general in what you’re saying. Neglect to mention following Christ in your evangelistic altar calls and say things like, “If you don’t feel you’re as close to God as possible raise your hand,” “If you feel lonely come to the front for prayer,” “If you want more of God this is your time,” and, “If you have struggles and need the answer come down.” Just get them to raise a hand. That way no one will be able to count the cost and you’ll even get saints to respond to salvation altar calls, making the results look more successful.
    16. Only give them half the story. Tell them Jesus died to forgive everyone but overlook the fact that they must personally receive Him to partake of that forgiveness.
    17. Present the truth as though it isn’t. Be so funny when you share Christ that you belittle the seriousness of the matter.
    18. Preach forgiveness without repentance. That way no one will know how to be forgiven.
    19. Be unbiblical. Present repentance and faith as an offer instead of how God does as a command (Acts 17:30).
    20. Let them think next Sunday is the day of salvation. Don’t make them feel it’s urgent to respond today.
    21. Never warn of hell. Dangle heaven in front of their nose but rarely mention hell, certainly not as much as Jesus did.
    22. Only do altar calls inside the church. Never take the gospel where sinners congregate. The lost might get saved.
    23. Use churchy terms. Use words like, “saved,” “repent,” and “born again,” without any explanation. That way your hearers won’t comprehend what you’re saying. If they can’t understand it, it’s probable they won’t be changed by it.
    24. Give false assurance of salvation to unsaved Christians. Assure church folk that they are saved even if they bear no fruit. So that you don’t offend the unsaved pew warmers never quote 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.” You could lose some financial supporters and have to depend on God.
    25. Never mention the wrath of God. If you mention it, people might be awakened to flee to Jesus who “saves us from the wrath to come.” ( 1 Thess. 1:10)
    26. Study how the apostles preached and witnessed and do the opposite. Don’t explain Jesus’ suffering death on the cross. Otherwise they may think of running to Him for forgiveness. Don’t speak of His burial or resurrection or they might realize He is God. Refrain from commenting about the hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus after He rose from the dead. That way they can go on thinking He’s a fairy tale. Overlook talk of the messianic prophecies Jesus fulfilled or they might realize that the Bible is true. If they see it’s the truth they may see that following Christ is the logical decision. And whatever you do, avoid what the apostles did when it came time to call people to obey the gospel. Don’t tell them to trust Christ and live for Him. That is too accurate. If they know how to get saved your altar call will be a success.
    27. Put more emphasis on the “sinner’s prayer” then on repentance and faith. Satan will smile over your departure from Biblical instruction. We are never taught to use a ‘sinner’s prayer’ throughout the entire Bible. If you decide to use it and put more emphasis on the technique than on what we’re commanded to preach: faith and repentance you’ll certainly botch things up. A ‘sinner’s prayer’ doesn’t equal salvation, only faith in Christ and repentance toward God do.
    28. Let Christians think you’re the only one who can do it right. Always leave the impression that they should only invite friends to church and never actually witness themselves. It will keep you in business and the lost unsaved.
    29. Don’t let the lost know they are. Disregard subjects like Judgment Day, God’s holiness, man’s sinfulness and justice. That way the lost can continue to think they’re “good enough” to get into heaven.
    30. Rely upon psychological techniques to manipulate people into responding to the altar call. Don’t rely upon the Holy Spirit or they may actually get saved.
    31. Make sure you’re the main attraction. Remember the goal in botching up an altar call is for people to leave and say, “What a wonderful preacher,” instead of, “What a wonderful Savior.” Draw all possible attention to how great a speaker and person you are. Otherwise people might see Christ in your preaching and get saved.
    32. Don’t focus upon Jesus. Finally, the best way to botch up an altar call is not to preach the gospel. Just get people to lift up a hand and pray a prayer with you. Resist the urge to speak of the only One who could save them.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s