I don’t do traditional altar calls any more.
If I’m doing comedy at a church and ending with a message on confession, I will close by having leaders line up on the sides of the auditorium.
I’ll say something like this:
“We’re about to dismiss. If you’re good, if things are going great in your life and you feel like this message wasn’t for you right now, when I dismiss I just ask that you quietly and respectfully exit. Feel free to leave or hang out in the lobby.
But if you’re in here and you feel like you need to talk to someone, pray, or you’re just not ready to move on, I want you to stay in your seat. You don’t have to get up or move around. When I dismiss, just hang out where you’re at.”
When people start to exit, leaders can see who is sticking around, sit down next to them, and ask them how they’re doing.
Let everyone else leave. Let those who need to stick around.
It’s PERFECT! It solves so many problems.
No one feels the weird pressure of having to get up and walk to the front.
You don’t have to worry about everyone who didn’t respond just sitting around waiting for people to stop crying so service can be over.
With the auditorium mostly empty, there’s plenty of space for these conversations to happen privately and people can take as long as they need.
I stole this from Matt Stumpf who is the youth pastor at Creeekwood Church in Mansfield, TX. He told me he loves this approach because you get to show students that we’re willing to meet them where they are.
I think that’s beautiful.
So far it has been wildly effective. I’ve done it with youth, young adults, and shows for the whole church.
If you’re going to preach on a sensitive topic and want to give people a chance to connect with someone about what they’re going through, it’s worth trying this out at least once.
If you’re interested in hosting a comedy show outreach, I’m starting to book spring 2019 right now. Feel free to contact me.