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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Analyzing Altar Calls

I've finished Preaching & Preachers by Martyn Lloyd-Jones. I didn't agree with certain segments, but overall I found it a very solid read...one I wish i had read fifteen years ago.

At one point, ML-J begins to deal with altar calls. He makes the following observations:
This is a subject which has gained considerable prominence at the present time, and therefore we must deal with it. In any case it is a problem that faces every preacher. I have often had to face this problem. People have at various times come to me at the close ofa service and chided me, indeed sometimes reprimanded me, because I have not made an appeal for immediate decisions. Some of them would go so far as to say that I had been guilty of sin, that an opportunity had been created by my own preaching but that I had not taken advantage of it. They have said, "I am quite sure that if you had only made an appeal you would have had a great response"--that kind of argument.
Lloyd-Jones continued:
In addition to that I have been told by a number of minister within the last ten years or so that they have been told by people at the end of a service that they had not preached the Gospel, simply because they had not made an appeal...I once met three men, three ministers, who had virtually been given a call to minister in certain churches, and who were on the verge of accepting, when someone suddenly asked the question: Did they give an 'altar call' at the end of every sermon? And because these three particular men had said that they did not do so, they had not received the call, the decision was reversed.
I am not stating that altar calls are evil nor that the men who practice them are. However, I have felt the inverse. I have been challenged that a message was incomplete or not evangelistic since it lacked an appeal at the end.

Altar calls are not only an emotional time in the service, but the discussion of the practice involves emotion as well. ML-J provides ten reasons why altar calls are not a typical practice in his preaching. I originally had all of them listed in one post, but it made for a post that exceeds the wise limits for a blog. Therefore, I plan to list each of his reasons individually, followed by brief comment of my own.

Not to try to convince others to "stop the evil practice of altar calls," but to explain why I do not find them to be a wise part of my preaching.


  • At 9:36 PM, Blogger brother barabbas said…

    I hope you can find grace for this home-spun, grass-roots preacher, because I gave an altar call after Cameron's powerful message out of Romans 3 the other night at New Castle Correctional Facility!

  • At 9:37 PM, Blogger brother barabbas said…

    oh.......hence the conversation with Terry which posted about on my blog.

  • At 9:55 PM, Blogger danny2 said…


    an altar call to SOMEONE else's sermon????

    oh, that's a double whammy. you're going to have to do extra credit in the preaching class for this one.

    luckily for cameron...he was just an innocent party!

  • At 5:51 AM, Blogger brother barabbas said…

    ...altar call to someone else's sermon? What's wrong with that? That's the BRETHREN way! ;-)


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