altar calls

No More Altar Calls

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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 Creekwood 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.

Most AWKWARD Prayer Time

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What's the worst/least helpful thing someone has said to you when you've asked for prayer during an altar call?

That’s the question I asked my Facebook friends a few months ago. There were SO MANY responses.

Here are some highlights.

“I know a teenager who was visiting a church for ministry purposes. The kid tried to cast a demon out of a man he’s never seen before. That someone just happened to be the pastor of the church.”

One guy told me he was literally told “to ‘shut up and quit praying.’ I needed to listen to what he was praying over me.”

A woman told me “After a lady finished praying for me one time, she said, ‘You know, I would really like it if you married my son.’”

Someone said “The worst is when you ask for prayer for a specific thing and the person praying with you repeats it in prayer extra loud and at the quiet part of worship." I thought this was really funny and relatable. How many teen guys don’t ask for prayer because they’re afraid the leader will start shouting "LORD, HELP THIS PERVERT TO STOP LOOKING AT SO MUCH PORN!”

It can be so scary to take the leap and open up to a leader about what you’re going through.

To confess and ask for prayer is making yourself so vulnerable.

But it can be just as scary to be on the other side of that conversation.

To be the leader someone is choosing to be vulnerable with can be so intimidating.

You can feel all this pressure like you have to fix this person in the next few moments or you’re not doing your job.

That mindset can lead to more harm than good.

I want to help train leaders.

That's why in 2018 I'm partnering with churches for a special event that not only includes a free comedy show outreach event for the community, but also training for pastors, leaders, and parents on how to be there for someone opening up.