Someone asked me that question recently and the answer is simple: because people typically don’t make long-term, life-changing decisions right at that moment in a worship service. In my experience most people who come forward are doing so out of a sense of obligation or guilt or emotion only. I believe that the Christian walk is best done in relationship with other Christians and specifically as part of a local church family. That’s why I know 99% of the time beforehand who’s coming up on a given Sunday if I give an “invitation” to confess Christ, recommit your life to Christ, or officially join our church. That doesn’t mean I won’t surprise people at times or be surprised.
So we don’t do the traditional altar calls but depending on the message I do give “invitations.” I just won’t sing 6 songs in order to get people to come forward. If the Holy Spirit isn’t urging them in the first 3 minutes then I don’t think any music or verbal manipulation should be done. Manipulation? Yes, if I really want people to come forward and make a decision, I can get that done. I did it when I first got into ministry. But then I saw the reality of those decisions a week later. Most of those decisions have no accountability and are more like New Year’s resolutions. Few succeed. Many churches have gone to a similar understanding. But that doesn’t mean altar calls are bad or wrong…just memorable. Like this…
What do you think? What’s your experience?
It is important that church leaders be happy in their work, that we “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2). A church experiences love through the happiness of its leaders. Hebrews 13:17, “[Your Leaders] are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.”
Indeed, it is a joy to serve First Christian Church and serve our community alongside the FCC family.
The reality is that we “can’t do life alone.” We need each other. So why not join a class or group? At FCC we have Adult Bible Fellowships (ABFs) on Sunday morning and Connect Groups on Wednesday nights (and a few at other times).
5 Reasons You Need a Small Group (thanks to Rick Warren)
- It’s the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. Only in regular contact with ordinary, imperfect believers can we learn REAL fellowship and experience connection God intends for us to have.
- A small group helps me to develop spiritual muscle. You’ll never grow to maturity just by attending worship services and being a passive spectator. We need more than the Bible in order to grow; we need other believers. When others share what God is teaching them, I learn and grow too!
- A small group confirms my identity as a genuine believer. I can’t claim to be following Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples. Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” You can’t be the Body of Christ on your own.
- A small group will help keep me from spiritually backsliding. “Mind your own business” is NOT a Christian idea when it comes to helping each other! We’re commanded to be involved in each other’s lives.
- The Body of Christ needs me! You have a background and experiences that other people can learn from and draw strength from!
So if you aren’t already in one, then I encourage you to get involved in one soon.
Yesterday we looked briefly at the mission of our church (FCC). Today I wanted to look briefly at our “Value” statements. These are things that we value as a church. Do we live them out perfectly? Obviously not. We have a long way to go. But this is what we want to see:
Heart for Christ Alone: We are united in our focus on the redeeming life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In essential beliefs, we have unity. In non-essential beliefs, we have liberty. In all our beliefs, we show love.
Mind transformed by the Word: Christ followers should manifest authenticity and yearn for continuous spiritual growth.
Arms of Love: We must be a welcoming and inviting community, helping people to make loving, enduring relationships.
Knees for Prayer: Prayer and worship is the essential foundation for all effective ministry.
Voice to Speak the Good News: Lost people matter to God and must matter to His church. Because of that, we must communicate God’s Love in culturally relevant ways.
Spirit of Servanthood and Stewardship: Every Christ follower is called to serve according to their gifts, open to being equipped for ministry.
Here’s our mission at FCC:
God calls FCC (Versailles) to make disciples by being a Christ-centered family, reaching out to all.
So our job is clear: make disciples. To do that we need a church culture that is always seeking to be a “Christ-centered family, reaching out to all.” We need both the inclusion of outsiders and the desire to go into all the world. That is the lens by which we ought to be making our decisions as a church.
“Should we do _____?” Only if it help us “make disciples by being a Christ-centered family, reaching out to all”?
Often I hear about people “church shopping.” This makes a lot of sense on one hand because when someone moves to a new community they should probably check out a few churches to see where they might fit best or where the doctrine/beliefs match their own. Sometimes this might also happen to someone who has experienced severe conflict in a church which makes them uncomfortable to return and continue there. But the language “shopping” with church really is not the best approach to finding a church home. It implies that the individual is a consumer looking for a church that will “meet my needs.”
I’m glad people want to find a church home. But looking for a church that meets my needs is an unbiblical statement. The church becomes a product to consume. “We loved the children’s programming but the sermons are really boring.”
God has called us to be spiritual contributors. The church does not exist for us. We are the church, and we exist for the world. I am here to serve God and to love people. I exist to make a difference. God created me to be a blessing to others.
So ask yourself: Am I more of a consumer or contributor? If you are a Christ-follower, hopefully you are a valuable part of a life-giving church.Do you drop your kids off in the nursery (without ever serving there), drink some free coffee, enjoy the service, then pick up your kids and go home? If so, you’re a consumer.
On the other hand, do you use your gifts to make a difference? Do you invite people to your church? Do you pray faithfully for church leaders? Do you give consistently of your finances? Do you serve passionately? Then you’re more of a contributor.
I’m not trying to be mean or make you feel guilty. I simply want you to be honest with yourself. If you are using your life to be a blessing to others today, then later you will relish sharing the stories that God allows you to tell. If you’re more focused on yourself than serving others, you’re going to end up with many blank pages–lost blessings that you can find only by contributing what God created you to give to the world.
Dear Pastor Marcus,
We think you’re asking way too much from us. In an average WEEK you think we should attend worship, a class or group, serve at least one hour, AND give of our finances. And then you say at home we should take time each DAY to read the Bible and pray for a few minutes. That doesn’t even include your idea that we should be investing and inviting unchurched people so they might have a relationship with God and a church family. We think you are expecting way too much from us. We’ve got things to do, places to be, mouths to feed, golf to play.
When we prayed that prayer to have Jesus in our hearts, we thought we were done. We got a “get out of hell free” card and we’re grateful for that and the future hope of Heaven, but we can’t imagine that God would expect MORE from us. We know Jesus came to earth and died for us. Yes, we’ve heard all about how we have to take up our cross daily, imitate Christ, surrender our lives to him. But we think that’s unrealistic. We just don’t have time, money, or energy for Jesus or His bride, the Church.
We’ve gone to church for years and even went to Sunday school as kids. So we know all we need to know about God, Jesus, and the church. We’re not bad people. We’ve got a few hang-ups but we don’t really need much more work on our souls. Mark needs help (he’s not bad either but he still hasn’t gotten into the habit of putting the toilet seat down!). But we’ve pretty much grown as much as we can spiritually. What we really need is a new car!
You can keep telling us what the Bible teaches (we really like your humor!) but we thought we might save you some time. We’re not changing. We’ll keep doing the same things the same ways so keep any of those thoughts to yourself. We will come to church (when we don’t have a late Saturday night), go to an occasional all-church event (we love the cooking in this church!), give when we have extra money (and not saving for that car!), but you can stop the call to commitment. Jesus gave up everything for us, but we think He’s quite content with what we have to offer.
Mark and Mary Member