I post this because of so many people asking me about my stance on evangelism and especially altar calls. It is originally from another discussion I was having, but it is my process right now and I thought I'd post it so the google-world could see.
I am averse to atlar calls. I have been in my current position for a little more than a year and I've actually had kids complain that I don't do enough altar calls. But the students I am leading have become conditioned to cry their guts out on a Wednesday night and live like hell Thursday morning. It had become "confessional" to them - a pseudo-catholic ritual. There were no lasting changes.
I am averse to altar calls because I have seen teenagers so manipulated that I categorize it under emotional rape. I have seen speakers/preachers/pastors so play on adolescent develpment/emotions/hormones that a student responds to an altar call and afterwards has little memory of what went on - similar to a horrible car wreck.
I am averse to altar calls because of hearing students say, "I went up to the altar last night. I do it every year at camp - so I figured I would do it on Monday, so that I can relax the rest of the week." We might as well be offering therapy!
I am averse to altar calls because they are not wholistic, which is the kind of process salvation that I desire for the people I interact with, especially for students in my city. I am convinced that Christ wants emotions, intellect, spirit, passion, muscle, everything, to repond to His gift/grace/love.
I have seen great things come about from an altar call, including my life. But, especially in my life, lasting change comes not from the emotional experience alone, but from a continuing, pacing relationship.
It's not that I hate altar calls...
I hate compartmentalized/marganalized/individualized Christianity.