Let’s Win a Soul at the Altar
As mentioned in the previous chapter, we have found it advisable to have soul winners trained to work with people who come forward in the services. This should be an art. These people should be well trained, well instructed, well disciplined and anointed people. Following are some suggestions concerning dealing with people at the altar. Bear in mind, these suggestions are to be used in the helping of people who have been convicted in the services, who have come forward at the invitation to receive Christ as Saviour.
1. Step-by-Step Instructions
Be clean bodily. No other place will require more intimate contact in soul winning than at the altar. If you plan to do any soul winning at the altar, be sure that your body is clean, that necessary deodorant has been used so as not to offend.
Keep breath freshener handy. At the conclusion of the service, and just before the invitation song, place a mint in your mouth or some other kind of breath freshener. Due to the singing and the noise of the service, you will be talking in close contact to the inquirer. Do not be offensive in any way, especially concerning your breath.
Introduce yourself and speak a word of greeting. For example, the pastor has called you and said, “Mr. Jones, Mr. Smith here wants to come to Christ. Would you pray with him about the matter?” Immediately you should introduce you to the seeker such as, “My name is Smith. I’m so glad you’re coming today. My heart is made happy when anyone comes to Jesus Christ. Shall we kneel here please and notice some Scriptures in the Bible?” In some places it is better to have a seat on the front. In the case of a small altar in the church, or not much distance between the front row and the pulpit, or in other circumstances that would prevent kneeling, it would be wise to have a seat on the front.
You could say simply, “May we have a seat on the front?”
Read to him Romans 10:9-13. Keep this marked in your Bible and keep a marker at the right page so you can turn to it readily. There is not much time to use a great deal of Scripture. These Scriptures are very inclusive and can be used of God to win a soul any place, especially at the altar. Read Romans 10:9-13 to them, with special emphasis on verse 13.
Ask this question, “Do you realize that you are a sinner?” Now ask, “Do you realize that people who die in their sins must go to Hell when they die?”
Ask, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ on the cross paid your penalty for sin, to keep you from going to Hell?”
Ask this question, “Do you believe, knowing this, that if you were to call upon Him now to save you and trust Him with all of your heart as your Saviour, He would make you His child?”
Suggest they bow their head with you for prayer, if ALL the previous questions have been answered in the affirmative. You may use words such as these, “Now would you bow your head with me and let me pray that God will make you His child today?”
As you bow your head to pray, ask him to place his hand on Romans 10:9-13. Read it to him again and then begin to pray.
Pray briefly. Pray simply. Do not pray such a pretty prayer that his will seem out of place. A prayer such as this would be in order, “Dear Lord, thank You that Mr. Jones wants to come to Christ today and I pray that today he will receive the Saviour and know in his heart that he is Your child. Help him now, Lord. Give him faith to believe, and may this be the day of his conversion…” Do not say “Amen” at the close of the prayer or “in Jesus’ name.” Stop abruptly and say, “Let’s keep our heads bowed and our eyes closed…”
Lead him to pray. At the altar usually it is best to tell him what to pray; sometimes in certain conditions you will simply tell him about what to pray. For example, “Now while our heads are bowed, Mr. Jones, and our eyes are closed, would you be willing to ask God now to forgive your sins and tell Him that you do want to receive Jesus as your Saviour? Go ahead and try out loud; ask Him to forgive you and save you.” If Mr. Jones does not seem to be able to pray his own prayer, you may ask him to repeat after you a prayer such as, “Mr. Jones, while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, would you out loud say this prayer and mean it, ‘Dear Lord, be merciful to me a sinner . . . and save me now . . . I do now receive Jesus . . . as my Saviour . . . and trust Him to take me to Heaven when I die’ “? You may want to use another type prayer, but be sure that your heart is in it and that God burdens you to where it will not simply be a rote proposition but a sincerity in your heart and the heart of the seeker.
Now say approximately the following words, “Now while our heads are bowed and our eyes are closed, Mr. Jones, if you meant your prayer and if you today are receiving Christ as your Saviour, if you’re making this the moment of your salvation, would you be willing, man to man, to place your hand in mine?” The seeker takes your hand, then you say, “God bless you!” After he takes your hand, and while your heads are still bowed, you pray a prayer of thanksgiving something like this: “Dear Lord, thank You today that Mr. Jones has received the Saviour. Thank You that he has trusted Jesus. And if he has been sincere and if Your Word is true, he is Your child and if he died now, he would go to Heaven. God bless him now and give him peace and assurance. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
Now ask him, “Mr. Jones, according to the Bible, where would you go if you died now?” Usually by now in a public service he is very pleased and satisfied that he is God’s child and has become a new creature.
Lead Mr. Jones to the church clerk or secretary. Explain to her that he has been converted. She will take his name and address and give it to the pastor.
2. Some Don’ts of Working at the Altar
Do not spend too much time. Bear in mind that the average invitation is ten or fifteen minutes at the most. Also, the person has already heard the Gospel in the sermon and has responded to this message. He simply needs to be handled carefully so as to have assurance of salvation.
Don’t use too many Scriptures. This may be done later on in the home as you help them know the Word of God more perfectly, or can be done after the service in a private meeting. But simply the minimum of Scriptures should be used at the altar.
Don’t stay at the altar if not having success. If the person has a hard time getting assurance, lead him to a side room or ask the pastor to help some way. Do not linger and prolong the service unduly, if the person is unwilling or unable to have assurance. It is tragic that many people come to the altars of our churches and are not dealt with properly.
Of course, these are not the only suggestions. No doubt, there are some better ones and some just as good. But one thing for sure: we need to spend more time and be more careful in dealing with people at the altar. Remember that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” When people walk the aisles of our churches, they are our obligation and our responsibility. May God help us to carry the weight of the burden of the service.
Sunday morning and Sunday night is more than just a time of worship. It is more than just a time of fellowship. It is more than just a time of getting together and seeing how the friends and neighbors are. It is a time of eternity for lost people. A time to break our hearts to reach them. A time to lead us to do our best to get everyone saved possible and to lead those who come to Christ to real definite assurance. This can he done with the proper burden and the proper emphasis at the altar. May God help us to do it wisely,
3. Coming by Membership
In the invitation there are people, of course, coming to present themselves for membership in the church. Some churches vote on them immediately at the altar. Others wait until the end of the month, at the regular church business meeting. In either case there are people month by month walking the aisles wanting to unite with our churches. There are several suggestions that should be helpful in the handling of these people in the invitation also.
The pastor should welcome them graciously, expressing joy at their coming.
He may then introduce them to one of the personal workers at the altar. If the pastor feels it necessary, he may ask the personal workers to have a prayer of thanksgiving with them for their coming. Sometimes it might he advisable to have a prayer of dedication and ask them to pray also. Usually this is not best.
The personal worker may then introduce himself and .speak delight at their coming.
Then the personal worker may then introduce them to the church clerk who, in turn, takes their name, address, and necessary information.
These people should also have their names read. They should stand at the front and after the benediction be welcomed by the membership. It is always a big time when new members are added to the church family. Let us make it a blessed time of rejoicing with our people.
4. Dealing With a Child at the Altar
A word of caution about the handling of children at the altar. One of the best Scriptures that can be used for a child is Revelation 3:20. This deals with Jesus knocking at the door. You may remind the child the simplicity of inviting someone in who knocks at the door of his home. You may also remind him that Jesus is knocking at his heart’s door and wants to enter. Ask him if he is willing to let Jesus come into his heart. If the answer is in the affirmative, then the head may be bowed and you may lead the child in the same type prayer mentioned previously in this chapter. After the child has been converted, he should go to his parents and explain to them his conversion, if they are in the service. Someone should come and stand with the child at the altar—his Sunday School teacher, a friend, his mother and father, a neighbor or if need be, a perfect stranger, if the others are not available. In other words, the child should have a big buddy at the altar.
The above article, “Let’s Win a Soul at the Altar” was written by Jack Hyles. The article was excerpted from Hyles’ book, Let’s Build an Evangelistic Church.
The material is 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.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”