Anyone who has ever watched a Billy Graham Crusade has witnessed what is commonly referred to as an “altar call”. You know what I’m talking about, right? That endless stream of people walking/running or whatever to the front of the podium supposedly to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
That’s what an altar call is. Billy Graham wasn’t the one that invented it; Anglican ministers were the ones who did that. Charles Finney is the one that made the altar call famous.
The other night I saw a minister utilize the “altar call” and a couple of people responded to his call to accept Jesus yet no one was waiting there to pray with the respondent
The minister brought enough people with him to listen to him preach pray with respondents yet no one stepped forward to do so.
Usually there is someone waiting for the respondent supposedly to “pray with them and welcome them to the Kingdom”.
Sometimes people go forward to have someone pray with them for a very special need and again there is usually someone there to actually pray with them.
In this case the minister stood off to the side smiling while whispering to one of the other guys who led the show service but neither of them made any attempt to pray with either person.
Did I forget to mention an “altar call” can’t be found in the Good Book?
I’ve been guilty of this before and I’m sure some of you have either called for one or have taken part in one. That doesn’t make it right does it?
Praying with people publicly is biblical (James 5:14-15). If that was the reason for calling folks up there in the first place that would have been a good thing.
Having folks make a public profession of faith is also biblical (Romans 10:9). Neither of the two fellas coming forward made any type of public anything nor were they asked to.
They walked up their alone, knelt down alone, prayed alone and walked back to their seats alone.
Like I said it was a very sad altar call.
I don’t want to get into motives here but some have actually used the “altar call” as a sort of census or way to count how many folks got “saved” while they preached.
I can’t say that was the case here but I can’t say it wasn’t either.
Did I mention these altar calls aren’t in the Good Book?
I want to be generous and say the minister had the very best intentions when they asked folks to come forward. I’d like to say there may have been some mis-communication between the lead minister and his associate.
I also want a yacht but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
The saddest part of all this is the message it sent. Christianity is meant to be done in community not in a vacuum.
No one from that community embraced either of those two fellas. They didn’t acknowledge them, shake their hand, nothing.
I didn’t pray with them either. That makes me just as culpable as they are.
Like I said it was the saddest altar call I ever saw.
Something that made me happy this week was recording Calvin’s Corner with my friend Pastor Michael Newnham. This week Michaels Minnesota Vikings beat my New York Jets in the first ever Calvin’s Corner Bowl, we talked about how we as Christians should respond to former Baltimore Raven Running Back Ray Rice, feuding over Eschatology and much more. I’ll leave the player below or you can use the link just above the player to download the program to your portable listening device.