Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Altar Calls

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.


Moses said...

no doubt....
this is the answer you should give all our students in the youth group.
i agree....i also think that altar calls aren't used for what God intended. i think they are used more for other people then for the people themselves....does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

so how did you feel about that foot washing thing on the last day in San Fransisco?

Anonymous said...

by the way, that was mollie.

T said...

Wow. I didn't know you had such strong opinions on it...but it makes sense. What you say makes a whole lot of sense. A lot of people treat the alter call like confession...like a once a week thing they have ot do to makes them feel..."purified"...but shouldn't it be more than once a week? And shouldn't it take longer than usual alter calls take? Very good points James.