Home Pastors Articles for Pastors After the Altar Call: The Seven Best Ways to Ruin an Invitation

After the Altar Call: The Seven Best Ways to Ruin an Invitation

Just because we ask people to move from their seats doesn’t mean we have to make them stand in front of the whole church as they process their emotions, their sin and God’s call. If we want them to make an informed decision about following Jesus—and we do, don’t we?—then we need to give them the proper time and place to do so. At the front of the church, with hundreds of eyes on them, with the organist playing the fourth verse of “I Surrender All” is not the best time or place.

Instead of making people carry on such an important conversation in such a distracting environment, consider having them meet with counselors in the pastor’s office or some other designated meeting space that can handle adequately the task of impacting eternity.

Speaking of counselors …

Mistake #3: Only have a few counselors available.

It’s happened way too many times. The preacher gives an invitation to follow Jesus, a few dozen people move to the designated area … and two counselors bravely wade into the sea of sinners. The pastor then says: “Alright, all you guys go with Bill. All you ladies go with Margaret.”

These poor counselors are as outnumbered as King Leonidas at Thermopylae!

Why do churches have so few counselors? Do they not understand the importance of well-trained counselors? Do they not expect God actually to stir people’s hearts to repentance?

Regardless of their reasons, the results of having too few counselors are terrible. People usually don’t get the attention and help they need. Further, they’re forced to choose between sharing their deep dark sin in front of the counselor and several other people or not sharing anything at all.

Guess which one they usually pick.

This mistake is so easy to avoid. Prayerfully select enough men and women from your church so that potential respondents can have a one-on-one conversation with someone of the same gender.

You’re not out of the woods yet. There are other counselor-related mistakes that can ruin an altar call.

Mistake #4: Use untrained and unprepared counselors.

In trying to avoid mistake #3, some pastors use anybody they can get their hands on to counsel others. Any Christian can do counseling, right? After all, they’ve sat through hundreds of altar calls. Plus, they even went through this experience themselves! They should know the ropes by now. Right?

That’s a big assumption, and it carries big risks.

Of all the mistakes that ruin an altar call, the use of untrained and unprepared counselors may be the most frequent. Teachers must be trained in order to lead a class. Preachers must be trained in order to lead a congregation. Why shouldn’t counselors be trained to lead people to Christ?! Here are just a few of the important points on which your counselors need to be crystal clear:

1. Do the counselors know where to stand, when to approach a person and where to take him or her?

2. Do the counselors know what to say and not say? Can they clearly explain God’s plan for salvation?