Thursday, May 21, 2015
Altar Calls and the "Sinner's Prayer"
Altar calls and the "Sinner's Prayer" are not required elements of ministry. Neither of these practices were employed by the early church. In fact, both became popular only during the evangelical era of the early 20th century. Many cite Charles Finney as the creator of the modern altar call, which he used to create a sense of "urgency and anxiety" in the 1830's for those who heard the message. The practice continued through the likes of D.L. Moody and Billy Graham, who fueled its popularity. With that, the "Sinner's Prayer" gained momentum as a method to ensure consciousness of salvation to those who stepped forward.
While many modern ministries and ministers teach these as necessary elements of ministry, this is not the case. This is merely one method in history used to minister to people in a corporate fellowship setting. In fact, many churches and ministries today, including some evangelical ones, neglect both practices based on the fact that they generate large numbers of "false conversions."
What's the point? Be led of God. This is merely one method, and arguably not the most effective, though it may be most popular. Many of us, if we'd be honest, had personal experiences with God, outside of an altar call, that truly converted our hearts. It was in that intimate place that we were actually born again. While the altar call may have been instrumental in some cases, it certainly is not the only way.
Altar calls are not required, and the "Sinner's Prayer" is not biblical at all. In fact, it can be detrimental. A Scripture passage often cited during the traditional altar call is Romans 10:9-11. First, Paul wrote this passage to BELIEVERS, the church. It was not directed toward unbelievers. Second, this passage speaks of a heartfelt belief and confession. The question can be asked, if a person is repeating a prayer, is it really heart felt? One may argue that a sincere prayer, even if not filled with theological accuracy, is more pleasing to God.