THE AWKWARD CALL
What I call the Awkward Call is often called the Altar Call. Since around 1800 there has been a tradition in many churches (and crusades, Billy Graham, etc.) to end a service or meeting with an ‘invitation’ to come forward to what is called an ‘altar’ (whether there is one there or not seems immaterial) and ‘make a public confession’ of faith.
This is often called ‘ministry time’ or ‘altar time.’ It is when people are under conviction from the music or things that have been said by a speaker and they are emotionally vulnerable to persuasion. These times are when many are weak, sick, needy, lonely, frightened, and full of guilt. To ask others to display publically their deep needs is to easily cause them to feel embarrassment and shame; to me is rather insensitive and unnecessary. I believe it is uncomfortable and abnormal.
There is no scriptural precedent for this practice. For example, Jesus asks his disciples publically to, “follow him,” and “If you won’t confess me before men, I won’t confess you before my Father.” Both of these examples have little, if anything, to do with a public church service, but more like a lifestyle.
The tradition of the Awkward Altar Call is just that: tradition. To me it is an invasion of privacy. I am for providing a place to meet others needs at meetings but the places should be privatized and separated from the public meeting. Let this special time be between God, the person and a trusted spiritual guide.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus