Altar Working & Preparing For Evangelistic Services
Rev. Braden C. Andersen
• Act 8:12-17 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. (13) Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. (14) Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: (15) Who, when they were come down,
prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: (16) (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) (17) Then laid they hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
• 2Ti 4:5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.
It is essential that EVERY Christian can function in an evangelistic mode!
Essential question: “How do we maximize the number of people who receive the Spirit and are baptized (especially in our services)?”
A Fundamental Understanding:
God is always ready & God is always willing to fill with the Holy Ghost
• We are NEVER “waiting on God” or “begging God” to fill people, nor are we blaming God if someone doesn’t get the Holy Ghost.
• If they don’t get it, it is not because God withheld it; it is because of THEM or because of US.
• Thus, it is fundamental that you believe, teach, and impress the anxiousness of God to fill every person at any time they will open up and receive Him. (Luk 11:13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?)
• We then aim to promote and appropriate environment and can HELP and EASE the process of receiving the Spirit.
When Are People Are Most Likely to Receive the Spirit?
1. FIRST, people are most likely to receive the Holy Spirit: At the altar call
* In an evangelistic service, the Altar call is the MOST important and pivotal point of the service. Contrary to many other services &/or ideas, the music is NOT the priority and the preaching is NOT the priority.
o The music encourages people to start lifting their voice, and be comfortable with public expression.
o The preaching serves to build their faith and show them how to respond. (Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.)
o But the Altar call is where baptism of water & sprit occurs
* Thus, at an evangelistic altar call, unless you are sick or needing a miracle, EVERY saint becomes a minister.
o 1Ti 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Neglect not the gift and operation of the Holy Ghost through YOU; you need to operate in the Spirit.
(1) Most likely, a guest will not feel comfortable to come to the front unless you invite them to come up with you,
(2) They will not know our songs or feel comfortable praying unless we are all singing and praying,
(3) They will not come to you for prayer – you must go to them, &
(4) They will usually not come “ready” to receive without you helping them repent, worship, and have the faith to step out.
2. SECOND, people are most likely to receive the Holy Spirit: At baptism
* Baptism is an extremely important time to capitalize on the faith of the convert. This is because their faith is already peaking, they have broken the barrier of public expression, they have repented, and they are expecting a spiritual experience.
* If you brought someone who is going to be baptized or are sitting by someone who will be baptized, build their faith that when they come up out of the water God WILL fill them with the Holy Spirit.
* Also, no one should ever leave before the baptisms are complete — rather, stay and help pray! If you don’t get joy over a sinner
repenting, being baptized, & receiving the Spirit you have a major problem with your priorities. It’s God’s favorite part of church and it should be ours: Luke 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. The bible never says God gets Joy over song service, over the preaching, or over the building — but He gets joy over a sinner moving through the stages of converting!
Your Job before the service
* Brush your teeth.
o They must be able to seek God more than they smell you!
* Be prayed up BEFORE the evangelistic service
o You can’t give what you don’t have. Come ready “to give,” not just “to get.”
o Prayer lowers your natural inhibitions and moves you into the character, mindset, concerns, boldness, and personality of Christ.
o Being prayed up will diminish your concern for exterior appearances – tattoos, smoke odors, alcohol odors, offensive language, and so on — and it will replace it with an anointed burden for the redemption of the soul!
* Be expectant
o You cannot hide a lack of expectancy. But you also cannot prevent the transmission of expectant faith.
* Bring someone with you
o The number one way to ensure no-one is born again is to have no-one needing to be born again. Go out into the highways and byways and compel the poor, the maimed, the halt, the blind, your coworkers, your classmates, your friends, your family, and your neighbors to come in because they will be filled! A church service is not successful if no-one repents, no-one is baptized, and no-one receives the Spirit. Re-adjust your framework of what church should look like. It’s not “ok” to just bring your family to service and go months without winning a soul; get someone lost into your car, talk to visitors in the service, and compel people to obey God and be baptized and receive the Spirit.
o Make sure EVERY visitor fills out and turns in a visitor card.
* Be ready to be responsive.
o The message will NOT be designed for you, it will NOT be a new subject to you, it will NOT impress you with obscure revelations, but you must be pre-determined to be RESPONSIVE. They will not get excited about baptism unless you manifest excitement every time you hear about baptism, they will not want the Holy Ghost unless you get excited about the Holy Ghost. When you hear “repentance” called for, you really get down and seriously start repenting out loud.
o We often wait to say “Amen” until the preacher impresses us or we “feel” something. This actually wasn’t the intended use of the “Amen.” To “Amen” is to express agreement for. If you agree with the truth of this gospel, you ought to Amen preaching on “baptism in Jesus name” every time and “Amen” the Pentecostal Holy Ghost experience, every time!
Praying With People In The Altar Service (Overview)
* A well designed evangelistic message and altar call will decrease what the altar workers needs to do, to next to nothing, and in the service the preacher will tell everyone what to do. However, in lieu of an evangelistic preacher and altar call, there are tools you can use to pray with people to receive the Spirit.
* The first important area to discuss when praying with people is “What does it take for someone to receive the Holy Spirit”?
(1) Repentance (Ac 2:38)— “to be or say sorry” — this does not have to be long or complicated. The initial repentance at conversion will be a simple mental assent and sincere prayer for forgiveness.
(2) Worship (Psa 22:3) —The convert must have absolute focus on Jesus and be willing to worship out-loud. They must abandon themselves and their concern over linguistic eloquence and pre-meditated prayers and get lost in praising God.
(3) Faith (2 Cor 6:2, Lk 11:13) — The convert must have enough faith that when the Spirit moves on them, they will open their mouth and “beg& to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit g[i]ve[s] them utterance” —Acts 2:4
* To help people do this, we must avoid several common mistakes:
o Praying for only those who “appear” interested.
* Think about it, if they look interested; are already speaking in tongues, dancing, and shouting, they don’t need your prayers! Find the one sitting in their pew with their arms crossed. That is who God is interested in, and who needs a real minister: Luke 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.
o Using Pentecostal Clichés
* You say “Holy Ghost,” they think: “Casper the Ghost?”
* You say “pray through,” they think: “to what?”
* You say “let go” in one ear while someone says “hold on” in the other, & they think: “give up”
* Instead say “Holy Spirit,” “pray until you speak in tongues,” and only have one person lead in prayer at a time.
o Standing around (in the altar or in the sanctuary)
* This is “game-time,” the visitor is looking for even ONE saint to be unresponsive, if they find it — it will validate the incredible
temptation from enemy to withdraw and be unresponsive. However, if every person is praising and speaking in tongues, they will feel more awkward not praising than they do praising! Don’t text, talk, laugh, relax, and or sit back at the altar call!
* We need the MAXIMUM amount of noise. If you don’t know what to pray, then clap! The reason many visitors don’t speak in tongues is because our altar calls are quiet with dead/slow music, and if they spoke in tongues they’d be the only one who is heard! The more noise there is in the room, the more comfortable they will be lifting their voice.
The Praying Process (Specifics)
(Again, a good evangelistic altar call will diminish the steps the altar workers need to take, but even on the street this is a process you can follow)
1. Make sure to establish their recognition of their need and what they will be praying for
* Ask: “Have you ever received cue Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues?”
* NEVER ask just, “have you received the Holy Spirit?” This will be misunderstood now because of prevalent false doctrines that teach you can receive the Spirit without speaking in tongues. The last thing you want is to have someone say “Yes” I have received the Spirit, then you follow-up with “Well did you speak in tongues,” then they say “No,” and you have to explain to them they never actually received the Spirit then. Instead, just ask “Have you ever received the Holy Spirit and spoken in tongues?” This presents an opportunity to go “deeper” to those that think they have already received the Spirit.
2. Express God’s anxiousness to fill them
* Express “The Holy Spirit is promised to all, the bible says: ‘ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off” (Acts 2:38b-39a). And say “If you want to receive the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues God will fill you right now! Come, let’s pray and God will fill you!”
3. Make repentance easy
* This may not be necessary if they have clearly repented. Be sensitive to where they are.
* Otherwise, simply say “First, let’s pray out loud together and ask God to forgive us of our sins.” Earnestly start repenting yourself, tell them to also repent in their own words, don’t try and lead them to repent in the sins you are guessing they have committed.
* If you can’t get them to repent out-loud, don’t move on, they will not receive the Spirit.
* After repentance, stop them and say “Now God wants to fill you with the Holy Spirit”
* Nobody should be prayed for to get the Holy Ghost, until they have been led to repent.
4. Encourage loud, verbal, & fervent praise
* While you have them stopped, tell them: “When you receive the Holy Spirit, you will speak in tongues, languages that you don’t understand, it won’t be English, but you will be worshiping God. All you need to do is begin to worship God out loud. And as we pray for you, and lay hands on you, God is going to fill you with the Holy Spirit and you will being
to speak in tongues”
* Lead them in worship. Keep prompting them to worship out-loud and get lost in the presence of God, and to literally lift their voice. If they won’t lift their voice — don’t move on until they do. They will not receive the Holy Spirit unless they are willing to lift their voice.
* Build their faith and expectation that God is getting ready to fill them “right now”
* Important to not let people go running the wrong direction. Many people get stuck intellectualizing their prayers, begging for the Holy Spirit, repenting over and over, or praying silently. There are many times I will say “Stop for a second and look at me, you have repented of your sins, and God is ready to fill you with the Holy Ghost. For you to receive it you need to lift your voice in praise God from the bottom of your heart. Let me hear you say ‘hallelujah,’ let me hear you say ‘thank you Jesus,’ let me hear you say `I worship you.’ Ok that’s it, that’s worshipping out loud. So when I lay my hands on you I want you to lift up your voice as loud as you can and begin to worship God in your own words, and as you worship God, don’t worry about what you say, God is going to fill you with the Holy Ghost and you will start speaking in another language.”
5. Lay hands on them
* Again, the person leading them in prayer should not lay hands for the purpose of receiving the Holy Ghost, until they have repented and started really worshiping. You can pray beside them without “laying hands”
* Don’t hold hands, don’t lay hands on the chest, touch the belly, touch the lower back, touch the hips, rub excessively, shake excessively, or lay hands excessively “hard.”
* Great places to lay hands are the wrist, elbow, shoulder, UPPER back, and ministers will lay hands on the head. If they look uncomfortable, ask first.
* When you feel they are ready to receive the Holy Spirit, if a minister is available, gesture for them to come. The ministry will lay hands on their head when they feel the person is ready to receive the Spirit. To lay hands on the head is a position of authority and should be reserved for MINISTRY when recipient is completely ready and their faith is at its highest level. There is nothing more we can do than lay hands on the head, to overuse this diminishes the associated significance and expectation.
(Be aware of proxemics/proximetrics; space, physical contact, body
* Don’t go face to face, instead go face to ear (incidentally ears don’t smell bad breath, ears hear! Also, you won’t spit on their face)
* If their body language is suggestive that your proximity is making them uncomfortable, back up, pray gently and see if they warm up.
* Be aware of gender differences
6. Immediately recognize and encourage them as soon as they speak in
* Many don’t even realize they have started speaking in tongues
* Note: a few words in tongues, still constitutes as receiving the Holy Spirit. Not all first time recipients will have the fluency and ease of staying in the spirit that you do as a mature saint.
* If you are not leading that person in prayer, don’t blaspheme the Holy Ghost by saying or thinking someone didn’t “get it” because YOU didn’t hear them or they didn’t act the way you think a newly filled person should act. The message of the prophet is subject to the prophet, likewise the volume and exuberance of the recipient is subject to them. Many won’t speak in tongues loudly or appear to have overflowing joy, this is because many don’t even understand fully what they received until days later, and responsiveness is linked to revelation.
Your Job After the Service
* Talk to people about baptism. Especially if they have already received the Holy Spirit. Act 10:46-48 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, (47) Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? (48) And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
o This is as simple as asking “Have you been baptized?”
o If they say “yes” ask either “How old were you?” (to see if it was infant baptism) or “Was it in the titles of the father, the son, and the holy spirit?” (NEVER ask if it was in Jesus’ name, because if they were, they will stop and tell you.)
o Then say “Well, that was an awesome step that you took towards God. But I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that no one in the entire bible was baptized the way you just said you were, but the good news is that we have warm water and it only takes a few minutes to be baptized the right way. What would stop you from getting baptized right now?”
* You have no idea how many people are ready to obey John 3:5 and Acts 2:38, but have never been offered a chance to. Never let someone leave without giving them a chance to be fully saved.
* Here is an easy dialogue you can memorize to talk to people about repenting and being baptized (clickable links):
. Here is how to use it in church:
* Some have the misconception that you need to have a bible study or have attended church for several months before you can be baptized. That is not the Apostolic method of conversion.
o The crowd of 3,000 at Pentecost were baptized in their first Apostolic church service,
o Act 22:16 says “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord”, and
o The Bible only ever shows ONE pre-requisite to baptism: Act 8:36-37 “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?
(37) And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God”.
o Therefore, if they believe with all their heart, even if they know nothing else, it is actually preferable, and most closely following
Apostolic example, for them to receive the Spirit and be baptized in their FIRST service.
* Also, after the service, make sure every person is debriefed on their experience. This will either explain what happened when they received the Spirit, or explain why they didn’t and what they can do to receive it in the future
Other Pointers and Etiquette
If the pastor specifically calls an altar call for people to come who want the Holy Ghost, and you are sitting beside a guest, ask them if they have spoken in tongues, and then encourage them to go forward. Once they do, the entire church body needs to gather around the seekers & help pray.
– ONLY ONE PERSON leads in prayer
• Ministry and other altar workers cannot compete with you praying in someone’s opposing ear. Wait and help pray and worship and clap, until the person leading in prayer gives or motions for you to take “the floor.” –
– Hold the arms up, but know they don’t have to be up.
– Stand them up and encourage them to close their eyes, but know they can receive it when they are sitting.
– Don’t give up too easy, but don’t make them pray too long; Discernment is essential
– Work with the music speed
– For those who aren’t immediately ready to receive the Spirit – Don’t try to teach them a full bible study at the altar call; share 1 or 2 scriptures at most, in less than 5 minutes, and if that doesn’t suffice, set-up a bible study immediately after church.
– Ushers may need to be ready to kindly distract or remove disruptive people from the altar. But ALWAYS do this by (1) attempting to redirect/distract them, then if that is unsuccessful (2) try setting limits on behavior, and THEN if those are unsuccessful (3) remove them if absolutely necessary. ALWAYS do it in such a way that they would come back in the future!
– Never baptize someone under 18 without parental consent or pastoral approval.
How can they be baptized or receive the Spirit if they really don’t understand much about the truth?
1Tim 2:4 “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Notice that men are to be “saved” FIRST, and THEN come unto a full “knowledge of the truth.” Think about it – How much easier is it to retain, teach, and disciple someone who has already been Born Again of the Water and the Spirit? This should actually be our goal, that people are Born Again in their first or second service and then are immediately enrolled in discipleship adoption and bible studies for retention/discipleship (Adoption Process Presentation:
. This is supported by Mat 28:19-20 (below) where people are Baptized FIRST and THEN taught “to observe all things.” (Also, again, Acts 8:36-37 only shows belief in God as a pre-requisite to baptism)
Mat 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: (20) Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Act 8:36-37 “And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? (37) And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
The Adoption Process – An extremely effective method of follow-up for visitors and New Converts. Results are usually 70-80% retained!
UPCI Bible Study Index. This is a great resource I made, that you can print out. It was made because sometimes when you are teaching a bible study or compelling someone to be saved, questions arise that you must “prove” the answer to on the spot, if the person will be saved. This is a handy resource for you to print and fold into the back of your bible. (Though it is a little large). I need to find some way to condense it to a half page size eventually, but for now it works.
How to talk to someone about repenting and being baptized. This is a concise guide/method on how to compel people to be saved. This is something you should print and memorize. It is the single most effective method I have ever used. Results are usually at least 30-50% of people being baptized whenever this is used on the street with cold contacts! Results can be 50-90% being baptized when used in church, if used on visitors!
•Video of how to use it on outreach (very effective):
• Video of how to use it in church on visitors (extremely effective):
• Pastoral Testimony of how effective this method is and how their
church uses it (the church grew from 30 to 200 in 20 months):
• Pastoral Testimony 2:
• Pastoral Testimony 3:
Life changing messages on soul-winning. These will truly change your perspective and give you a new & powerful motivation to reach the lost.
• Wayne Huntley – Serious About Saving Our City (probably the most powerful message on soul-winning I’ve ever heard):
• Todd Nichols – Bootcamp Preaching:
• Wayne Huntley – Save Them All & Let God Sort Them Out:
• Matt Maddix – Addicted:
• Wayne Huntley – Why the United Pentecostal Church is Not the Largest Church in Town:
• Wayne Huntley – The Treasure is in the Field:
• David Bernard – Revival in the Time of Promise:
• Denver Stanford – I am a Soul-winner:
• Scott Graham – The Ministry of Phillip:
• Braden Andersen – Spiritual Ambition:
Understanding Soul-winning E-Book by Evangelist/Pastor Tim Downs. This is an amazing book by a man who has literally baptized over 10,000 people in just the last 4-5 years. He also started a church in March and has already had over 700 in his last revival service. I’ve seen these methods double a church in just one month, this stuff works! You MUST read this book.
Proof of our legal rights to distribute fliers & post door hangers.
Especially if you are a driver or leader on outreach, PLEASE print a copy of these documents and keep them in your glove box,and be ready to show them if needed.
“How To Teach A Bible Study” Guide. This is a guide on how to teach bible studies, that you can print out and review, Definitely some very important areas to consider.
The above article, “Altar Working & Preparing for Evangelistic Services,” is written by Braden Andersen in 2005. The article was
personally contributed by Braden C. Andersen. The article was used with permission.
The material is most likely copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.