I have struggled for a long time about the best way to end a worship service. There is something that just seems forced and fake with the traditional alter call. Begging and pleading for someone to come forward while everyone else sings 10 verses of Just As I Am just doesn’t seem like the best way to reach people. You do need to remember that alter calls weren’t done in church until the 1800′s, so there is not a strong historical basis for doing them in church. On the other hand, I’m afraid that sharing a 10 second Gospel message and asking everyone to raise their hands will lead a number of people to think they are saved when they truly don’t understand the Gospel. I feel the best way is to really sit down and talk with someone one on one to answer their questions and make sure they understand. But how do you get them to do that? I have tried many different ways to end the service and to quote a famous song, “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” I do want to give people a chance to respond to what they have heard and a chance to take the next step.
There is one church that I have visited that I think understands this problem. They have provided their people an opportunity to respond in many different ways. Seacoast church has a very interesting “hands-on” way to end their service. They provide multiple stations where people can respond. You can read more about it here.
- They have a wooden cross where people can write out something they are struggling with and nail it on the cross as a symbolic way of handing it over to God.
- They have communion stations setup throughout the sanctuary where you can choose to take communion each week.
- They have elders available to meet and pray with people about salvation and healing
- They have a prayer table where you can go and light a votive candle and intercede on the behalf of someone.
- They also have boxes setup around the sanctuary for tithes and offerings. They want people to worship through their giving and they make this process part of the response time.
I think this is a neat concept, and it’s one that I can’t get off my mind. I think the response time should involve more people than just those who are making a first time decision. How would something like this work at Cornerstone? What could we add or subtract to make this more effective for the people here? Share your thoughts with me on this.