Altar Workers Training


Definition: Altar work is instructing, assisting, and/or leading the seeker to an experience with God.

Objective: To pray with instruct encourage and to assess needs of the seeker as you help them pray through to the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

Where: Anywhere

The Basics: It is important that you pray with family members and friends who are seeking for the Holy Ghost. Friends need a familiar voice. Woman to woman, man to man is preferable.

Often, when there are several seekers present, you can assess who is most ready to receive the Holy Ghost by watching their body language (note intensity) – if they are kneeling, crying, quiet, excited, shaking, smiling, calm, tight, scared.

Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with the seeker, prior to praying, and there may be times you have to ask them to stop praying:

What is your name? Are you praying for the Holy Ghost? Is this your first time to pray for the Holy Ghost? Do you know how to receive the Holy Ghost?

As you talk to the seeker, use their name.

If there are many people assisting the seeker, it is important that only one person speak in the seeker’s ear – giving directions – at a time. Teamwork is important (unified effort).

You should always be sensitive to the needs, feelings, frustrations and fears of the seeker. Many times, a seeker does not understand what they are supposed to be doing and how they are to do it. Help them by giving clearly spoken, easy-to-understand directions.

Common Problems: It is common in our services today to have many people who have never prayed before in their life. They don’t know how to pray for the Holy Ghost. Some don’t even know to whom they should pray.

Take the time to tell the seeker how to pray. Tell them that Jesus hears their prayers. Tell them that He wants to answer their prayers.

Many people, especially chronic seekers, do not receive the Holy Ghost because they have preconceived ideas as to how the Holy Ghost will come. Discuss their preconceived ideas. Let them know that rarely does anyone receive the Holy Ghost the way they think they will.

Chronic seekers often get into a rut of saying the same things over and over again, like a “stuck needle” on a phonograph. Get them to say and do something else.

For quiet people, discuss scriptures that relate to speaking out, shouting, lifting one’s voice, etc.

Others: Sometimes you will work with people that cannot seem to break through to the Holy Ghost. You may consider that they have not repented, or they doubt God’s willingness and ability to forgive them of their sins. In either case, these are major hurdles that must be dealt with through prayer (repentance) and faith before the seeker will be able to receive the Holy Ghost.

Do-Not’s: Don’t hit or slap a seeker on the back, arms, shoulders, or anywhere else. Control your emotions while you are working with seekers.

Don’t shake the seeker. It is very important that you keep your attention on assisting the seeker. You are not there to get a blessing yourself and forget about helping them.

Don’t work the altars with bad breath or body odor.

Don’t spit in the seeker’s face when you are praying him.

Don’t yell in the seeker’s ear. Altar services can get very loud. Get close to the seeker’s ear and ask in a low voice, Can you hear me?” If they are having trouble hearing you, you can turn up the volume a little at a time until they do hear your instructions clearly.

Don’t mess up their hair or clothing. Though many try, we cannot shake the Holy Ghost into a person.

Don’t put words in their mouth to get them to speak in tongues. Never tell a seeker to repeat after you or to say something (i.e. “la-la-la”, etc. .. ).

Don’t get in their face (remember infectious diseases).

Do’s: Do get consent from the seeker before you lay hands on them.

Be sensitive, inoffensive, empathic (feel what they feel).

Be perceptive. Observe what they are saying and what they are doing.
Look for both positive and negative signs.

Touch (shoulder, back, arms, head). You lay your hands on the seeker for the purpose of transmitting faith.

Be positive in all your comments. It is good to tell the seeker often that they are doing well. They are usually in unfamiliar territory and your positive comments will set their mind at ease.

Encourage them to press on. Many times a seeker will get the Holy Ghost on the second or third attempt. Answer any questions they might have. Give your opinion as to what is hindering them from breaking through to the Holy Ghost. Then encourage the seeker to pray again.

Pray out loud with them. When the seeker hears you pray, and even speak in tongues, it helps them to know how to worship as well as how to yield to the Holy Ghost.

The Seeker Must Repent: It is impossible to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost without first repenting. In order to come to Jesus, the Bible says you must first repent.

Define repentance… It is asking the Lord to forgive you of your sins, being sorry for your sins, making a 180-degree turn and going in the other direction, to self, saying not MY will but TIIINE he done, walking toward Jesus.

Have them to understand that they must confess and forsake their sins (Proverbs 8:13). Repent with them. (A kneeling position is good but not absolutely mandatory.) Encourage Godly sorrow (It worketh repentance II Cor. 7:10).

Make sure the seeker understands that God loves them and that He will forgive them. God is faithful. He will cast their sins into the bottom of the sea. He will throw their sins as far as the east is from the west and remember them 110 more. . It’s His promise.

The Seeker Must Have Faith: The seeker must believe that God will give them the Holy Ghost just as He promised He would do. The scripture teaches, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him ” (Hebrews 11:6).

You should be continually speaking faith into the heart of the seeker.

The reason you lay your hand on the seeker is to transmit your faith to them. If you do NOT have faith for the seeker to receive the Holy Ghost, you should NOT be praying with them. Your unbelief is transmitted the same as your faith is.

The Seeker Must Praise: Once the seeker has repented, instruct them to lift their hands, and lift their voice, and start praising God. Just as it is impossible to receive the Holy Ghost without repenting, it is impossible to receive the Holy Ghost while the seeker is repenting. He/she must move past repentance and begin to worship God.

Praise is like a magnet that draws the Holy Ghost. He inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3). Praise is acknowledging God for His greatness, excellence, goodness, mercy, perfection, all that He is, etc. Encourage the seeker to worship the Lord out loud. Get them to say…

“Hallelujah is the highest praise we can give God. It means, “Praise ye Jehovah,” frequently rendered, “Praise ye the Lord,” and stands at the beginning of ten of the psalms (Ps. 106,111-113, 135, 146-150), hence called “hallelujah psalms.” From its frequent occurrence, it grew into a formula of praise. The Greek form of the word (alleluia) is found in Rev. 19:1, 3, 4, 6. -Easton’s Bible Dictionary

I praise you, Lord. I magnify you, Lord. I exalt you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus, for the Holy Ghost.

Some people, especially those who have been exposed to Pentecost of some sort, will want to shout, clap, dance, jump, etc. Discourage this outward emotional experience until AFTER they have received the Holy Ghost. Many times, people will get caught up in the emotion and not receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

It’s usually best to pray with people standing up. This is more of a worship and praise posture than kneeling (more of’ a repentance posture). Besides, it is easier to pray with a seeker who is standing. However, people have received the Holy Ghost sitting, standing, kneeling and even laying on their back.

The Seeker Must Stay Focused: The following suggestions will help keep them on track: Put everything on the altar. Get your mind on Jesus. Ask earnestly for the Holy Ghost because it is a gift from God. Die out to yourself. Close your eyes; focus on Jesus.

The greatest miracle God has ever performed, or ever will perform, is to fill a seeker with the baptism of the Holy Ghost. You should continually encourage them to believe in the miracle that God is working in their life right now.

When the seeker is filled: Do not tell the seeker they have the Holy Ghost if they are not clearly speaking in other tongues. But, if they are speaking in an unknown tongue, you can say to them: “That’s the Holy Ghost. That is God speaking through you in a heavenly language. Allow God to speak through you all He wants to.” After it is obvious that the seeker has clearly received the baptism of the Holy Ghost, encourage them to enjoy their new experience with God. Rejoice with them. Dance and shout with them before the Lord for the wonderful work He has done in their life.

After the seeker is filled: If the seeker has NOT been baptized in water, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, talk to them about the necessity of water baptism while they are still at the altar and still feeling the power of God. Talk to them about the benefits they will enjoy by joining the New Convert’s Class. If possible, ALWAYS introduce a new seeker to the pastor, pastor’s wife, ministers, elders, leaders and as many other members as possible. When you introduce the seeker to the pastor, it is important that you express your love for, appreciation of, and trust in, the man of God.

Altar Worker’s Responsibilities: Always go forward to the altar area with a seeker or meet a seeker without being publicly asked to do so. Altar workers need to always be ready. It is embarrassing to the seeker and to the church if the pastor has to plead with people to come to the altar to help a seeker receive the Holy Ghost. Don’t let the seekers go alone!

Record keepers should be assigned to every altar service. Larger altar services should have several record keepers. Record keepers are NOT people who are also praying with seekers. Their full attention should be on getting proper and complete records.

Altar Cards (order from Home Missions, see page 21) are essential to an effective altar service. Make sure an Altar Card is filled out on every seeker, whether they receive the Holy Ghost or not.

If possible, give every seeker a copy of The New Birth Experience, a one-hour personal Bible study available through Home Missions.

A Chief Record Keeper should be appointed in larger churches. All records should be turned into the Chief Record Keeper before the Record Keeper leaves the church.