by Pastor Laurence Justice of Victory Baptist Church, Kansas City, Missouri
"An altar call is an appeal for an immediate public response to a sermon just preached. It is popularly called the invitation and as used in this context is an appeal for a public act of commitment and can involve hand raising, going to a counseling area or signing a commitment card. Most often it involves walking down the aisle to the front of a church auditorium. The altar call is tacked on to the end of a sermon and the invitation usually is to "come forward and accept Christ as your Savior." Various emotional techniques such as telling sad, tear jerking stories and playing mood-creating music in the background are employed to encourage response to the altar call.
Like many of you I grew up in churches which used the invitation system and in the early years of my ministry I used it myself before finally seeing its implications and its inconsistency with God’s grace. In those years we sang verse after verse of invitation hymns like "Just As I Am" and we sometimes sang on for an hour or more trying to get people to come forward. I once had an evangelist in a church where I pastored and his entire program consisted of night after night telling sob story after sob story climaxing with the saddest one of all and then giving an invitation to come to the front and accept Christ.
So firmly entrenched has the altar call become in our modern churches that I have had people ask me on several occasions, How can people be saved if you don’t give an invitation? Preachers who do not give altar calls are often criticized as not being evangelistic.
We do not have an altar call in the services of our church! We do not extend an invitation at the close of our services for people to make some kind of physical demonstration that they are trusting Christ. What I shall do in this sermon is explain just why we don’t! First of all we do not do it because..." continue reading