Why We Don't Have Altar Calls
I can care about you, and I can love you, but that does not mean that I have to condone everything that you are doing.
One Pastor's Thoughts . . .
The answer to this question comes as a bit of a surprise to those who were raised on altar calls.
First of all, we don't have altar calls because Jesus didn't have altar calls. If you read Jesus interactions with people, he was very laid back. As the people sat and listened, He told wonderful stories about the kingdom. Jesus allowed the information to sink in to the minds of hearts of each person listening. When he was preaching and teaching, he never pressed the people for decisions.
Secondly, we don't have altar calls because the church existed for hundreds of years without them. Altar calls first made their appearance in the 1830's under the ministry of Charles Finney. Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, and Billy Graham followed his altar call pattern. Since most of us grew up at least knowing of altar calls, we aren't aware that the church existed for 1800 years, making disciples, without the practice of altar calls.
Next, we avoid altar calls because of the potential for manipulation. Many of us have had experiences at churches where well meaning pastors or youth leaders felt that it was their duty to get someone to come forward. The meeting is not going to end until someone comes forward. The music is just so, we will sing 100 verses, because the pastor is just sure that someone is going to make a decision. There is too much room for human ego to be on display in an altar call.
Finally we don't need altar calls because God doesn't need them. The Holy Spirit is able to reach people and convert them without the benefit of a preacher or a church. Some of my favorite stories of conversion are moments that people had just between them and the Lord.
I close with a quote from a Baptist pastor that I found on the Internet.
“Most everyone who comes here notices that we do not practice the generally accepted and practiced ritual of modern day religion commonly called the "invitation" or "altar call." There are many reasons why we do not, the greatest being that it is not taught or practiced in the scriptures. In the inspired record of the church in the book of Acts there is no mention of any such practice. As a matter of fact, we do not find this practice appearing in the life of the professing church at all until about 1820. It appears then being introduced by a preacher seeking to produce what God alone can produce. How were all the people who were saved before Christ and over the 1800 years after His death saved without an invitation or altar call? Of course, by coming to Christ in the heart.”
In this section . . .