Why We Can't Live and Die by the Altar Call

Okay, confession time: A lot of the time as a Youth Pastor, or any Pastor for that matter, we tend to judge the efficacy of a service. We even go as far as validating our ministry by what happens at the altar call in response to our messages. Did the message hit home? Did the congregation or youth group REALLY receive it? Did I mess up? Did I speak too long? Did I make enough of an emphasis or stress urgency? Then it dawns on us, HOW WAS THE ALTAR CALL? Okay, there were a bunch of kids or people at the altar...success. There are very dangerous problems with this form of thinking.

1. If you live and die by the altar call, you will begin to focus more on making your messages seeker-friendly, instead of driving home what the Holy Spirit has put in your heart. A watered down message might play better to a crowd, but at the sacrifice of losing the weight it was intended to have.

“But as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, even so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who tests our hearts.” -1 Thessalonians 2:4 (NKJV)

2. If you live and die by the altar call nothing will ever change. A mentor once told me “the success of an event is not determined by how many people approach the altar, but rather what happens when they leave.” Scripture teaches us in Matthew 7:16 that we know false prophets and teachers by their fruit. I think this applies to every Christian as well, we will know the impact of the message by the change we see after. Did they bear good fruit, bad fruit, or no fruit at all?

When we stop being focused on packing the altars and focus on packing the Kingdom, we will see our messages carry more weight, be more effective, and penetrate hearts. So today, I challenge you to check your motives. Are you trying to pack your services, or are you looking to pour the message the Lord has given you out, allowing for the Holy Spirit to use you to impact lives? Ministry is not a numbers game. It’s not about how many people came to the altar, but rather how many people left with a newfound hunger for God’s word, prayer and fasting. How many left truly changed, evidenced by their fruit. That will determine the success of your message. Don’t focus on the altar, that’s where things die, focus on the Holy Spirit who resurrects into new life. Be encouraged, you CAN do this. You were made for this. I’m cheering for you!

Alex Oquendo is a Youth Pastor in Tampa Florida. He has had the opportunity to speak in preach and minister in several places like Cuba, Spain, Georgia, Texas, North and South Carolina, and all over Florida. He currently serves as the Florida Multicultural District Young Adults Director. He is happily married to the love of his life Ruth and is a father to Gabriella Elise who is 2.