No Altar Calls and Hundreds of Conversions in the Past Five Years
There are verbal invitations for people to receive Christ as Lord and Savior, as well as encouragement for those who have come to personal faith in Christ to publicly profess their trust in Him through baptism; but there are no public "altar calls." At the conclusion of the teaching of Scripture we may worship, or we may pray, or we may minister to people through both worship and prayer, but we don't have people "come forward to an altar" and make some type of "decision." The reason we do not practice this kind of Southern Baptist ritualism is because we believe altars were used in the Old Covenant for the offerings of sacrifices that were designed to visually remind the Israelites of the coming of the Messiah and what He would accomplish for God's people through His death. Churches don't have altars. Christ has come, He has died, and He has risen from the grave. We proclaim Him. We preach Christ and Him crucified and we verbally encourage people to look to Him in faith. To ask them to "walk an aisle" smacks of some kind of religious ritualism that puts a person's faith in the steps they take rather than in the sacrifice Christ made.
I sometimes wonder if we Southern Baptists lose sight that God graces and converts sinner in unique and various ways because we have substituted our southern cookie cutter church rituals for relational Biblical Christianity. I'm not necessarily saying that having an "altar call" is wrong. I am saying real Christianity is best measured by changed lives. Causing people to trust in a walk down an aisle to "an altar" is dangerously close to creating an idol out of a church ritual. We prefer to trust the Chief Shepherd and watch Him call His people by name in His time.
In His Grace,