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?
The heart of worship is surrender.
Romans 6:13 (TEV) Give yourselves to God…surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes.
Surrender has negative connotations because it sounds like we are “giving up” or have “lost.”
Three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride, and confusion.
We need to answer these three questions:
- Can I trust God? the more you realize how much God loves you, the easier surrender becomes. “Love casts out all fear.”
- Can I admit my limitations? We don’t want to admit we’re just creatures and not in real control.
- What does it really mean to surrender? it’s not passive acceptance but active sacrificing your own wishes and walk for God’s.
Halal is the primary Hebrew word for praise. It’s the word from which we derive the biblical word hallelujah. It’s an exuberant expression of celebration, a word that hints at boasting, raving, or celebrating. It carries with it the notion of acting in a way that is foolish. True halal contemplates laying aside your inhibitions and killing your self-consciousness.
It’s used almost always in the context of corporate worship. In Leviticus it is used to describe the way the people might celebrate a harvest festival. The Psalms are littered with this word. The God of the universe made us to praise Him with abandon, like fun-loving children. Sometimes I wonder if God looks down on us American Christians and sees our ultra-dignified and carefully orchestrated worship experiences and wishes we’d cut loose. That’s how Christians worship throughout the rest of the world.
The first time I saw it as a kid I thought it was strange. While are these people raising their hands while singing in worship? I was a Christ-follower but thought maybe this was strange. Many people still misunderstand it today.
I agree with the sentiments of the great theologian, Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones, who are argues that a dislike of enthusiasm can be “one of the greatest hindrances to revival.”
Yadah is one of the seven words translated in the Old Testament as “praise,” and it’s found over 111 times in Scripture. It is defined as a word meaning “extend hands” or “to throw out the hand,” and it is used to describe the act of shooting an arrow (Jeremiah 50:14) or throwing a stone (Lamentations 3:53). In the context of worship, yadah describes those moments when the Hebrew people were so overcome by the glory of the Lord that their hands shot upward in response.
Since that first experience when I saw others raise their hands I was intrigued with trying it too. Sometimes I feel like doing it but let my worries about what other people think of me become more important than my heart-felt devotion to God. But more often than not I do it and don’t worry about the people around me because their not my audience. God is. It’s a way of demonstrating my surrender to Him in that moment and that like a child raises their hands for a parent to pick them up, so to am I asking for God’s provision of comfort and security.
Many people think worship is an obligation we OWE God. It’s used to motivate people to go to church. God does not need our worship. God is perfectly fine without it But WE NEED to worship. When we worship we are aligned with truth and our souls function well when immersed in truth.
Worship is an invitation BY GOD. Worship is our RESPONSE to what God has done and is doing. Worship is an invitation from a gracious God who bids us to come and enjoy His beauty and goodness.
We do not worship so much as respond.
Worship is not merely a personal matter to inspire the individual. It’s about the transformation of the person WITHIN, BY, and FOR the community of faith, the local church, through the devotion and worship of God almighty. While church worship need not be boring, it is also not designed merely to give us good feelings. While inspiration is a by-product of worship, it is not the central aim of worship.
Worship IS a communal activity meant to instruct a people. We tell our stories, learn our language and find our life in the presence of other Christ-followers. We go to church not to be entertained but to be trained.