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

3. Do the counselors know the importance of confidentiality? Likewise, do they know when to refer a person to a professional?

4. Do the counselors have the necessary tools for the task? Counselors will need their Bibles, of course, but it wouldn’t hurt to have extra copies of God’s Word to give to those who do not have one. Counselors also will need forms to collect contact information for follow-up purposes. Further, they should provide people with information about the church, including a way to contact the counselor and the pastor. It doesn’t hurt for counselors to have breath mints, too!

5. Are the counselors aware of all the expectations placed on them? Are they supposed to collect the people’s contact information? Are they supposed to follow up with them?

By the way, the best tactic for training a counselor is to partner him/her with someone who’s already a great counselor. Let the counselor-in-training silently observe the mentor as he/she counsels people after an altar call. Just make sure the mentoring counselor gets a chance to debrief the situation with the counselor-in-training after everything is said and done.

These efforts will ensure that when people decide to give their lives to God, they can have access to well-trained counselors.

Mistake #5: Use counselors who talk too much.

Humans have two ears and one mouth, but hardly anyone uses them proportionately, including many counselors. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve observed counselors preaching to the people sitting in front of them after an altar call. (Didn’t they just hear a sermon? Do they really need another one so soon?)

Some counselors think it’s important to share every passage of Scripture on the topic of salvation with those who don’t understand the concept yet. I hear them say, “Now let’s turn to Ephesians 2:8-9,” but the poor person is still looking for Romans 1:16, the last passage referenced.

Other counselors feel it’s crucial to communicate every theological thought they have in their mental database. I’ve overheard counselors lecturing people about various atonement theories, the cosmological argument for the existence of God and the Levitical system of animal sacrifice! Meanwhile, the person who wants to accept Christ just sits there with a confused look on his or her face.

Yes, counselors need to be able to articulate biblical truth, but they must remember truth is meant to be life-changing, not overwhelming. Instead of talking so much, counselors should be trained to ask really good questions. Here are a few examples:

1. What’s your name? (Yep, this is a big one! Most of us usually are reluctant to take advice from those who don’t know our names. Take the time to ask this important question.)

2. How would you describe your relationship with Jesus? Why?