The Methodology For Establishing An Altar Evangelism Ministry
By: Angela R. Brady
“Let all things be done decently and in order. ” (I Corin. 14:40) “The Order” is our admonishment in setting forth any operation within the church. Order must be kept about functions, meetings, schedules, and data records of the individuals who have been ministered to.
“GO YE THEREFORE…” (St. Matthew 28:19)
This familiar scripture is significant to us in the operative words, GO, TEACH, and BAPTIZE. These are all action words. Altar evangelists have been called to work! It is noteworthy to understand that you have not been called to a ministry, but rather you have been called to work in a ministry. I can call you to the piano and should you just sit there and do nothing, no music will be heard. Only until you play the piano, after coming to it, will the desired results be heard.
The work of the Altar Evangelist is to aid in the birthing of souls into God’s kingdom. It requires sensitivity to meet the needs of
individuals who come to the altar. You become an extension of the pastor or minister, and work as “agents of mobility” as the Spirit of God so directs.
You must plan your schedules to meet the needs of the ministry. If you are working with a small number of people in the ministry of altar evangelism, then you will all be working every Sunday. You must use strategy to defeat the adversary. It is important that you be free in spirit and mind to serve effectively in this ministry. The altar evangelist must be ready to serve at all times.
The Altar Evangelist should have a fast day specifically for altar evangelism in your local assembly. This day should begin with your own personal worship to God. Remember, when doing your morning devotions, not to ask always of God, but begin by worshipping. This will require you to do reverence to God. Worship is the direct acknowledgment to God of His nature, His attributes, His ways, and His claims! It’s done by the outpouring of your heart to God, as if you were before His throne!
Fasting and prayer are an integral part of preparation. The 13th chapter of I Corinthians sets forth the deportment of the altar
evangelist, Every expression towards the people, whether facial, body language or salutation, must be seasoned with charity. Your uniformity in dress must be worn and maintained in a manner conducive to good grooming. Proper care with personal hygiene is important to remember as well. You don’t want to wear anything that could distract attention from the call to the altar. Neither do you want to wear anything that could hinder you from actively moving with and participating in God’s move of His Spirit!
THE WORK PLACE – Part I
The Altar Evangelist must always be aware that the environment in which they work in service is HOLY. (Habakkuk 2:20, Zephaniah 1:7, Zechariah 2:13) You are in the presence of a holy God, serving His holy people. When you enter the door of the church, your work begins. You must have proper attitude and salutation in anticipation of the move of the Spirit of God.
“And thou shalt cleanse the altar … and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it.” Exodus 29:36
The work place of the Altar Evangelist, the altar, must be kept holy. Workers, as well, must be kept holy and blameless before God. When God instructed Moses on how to build the tabernacle, He gave specific instructions on what the altar was to be constructed of. God wanted man’s best to be given and used. In the Old Testament, the altar was used as a place of sacrifice to make atonement for man’s sin. This was done by the those designated in the Levitical priesthood taking the specified animal inside to the holy place where the altar was located. The sins of the people were transferred on the sacrificial animal by the priest who touched or laid his hands on the animal. The animal was slaughtered. It was then hung on the horns of the altar so that the
blood would be drained from the animal’s body. The flesh was then taken out of the tabernacle and given back to the family who provided the animal. The blood filled the altar at the floor and covered the horns of the altar. It was believed that life was in the blood. Only blood could cover sin. The fat of the animal was then taken into the Most Holy Place to be offered as a sweet smelling savor in the burnt offering unto God.
Why is this so significant to the altar ministry? It must be understood that the one true sacrifice of God, was God in the flesh.
Jesus Christ was that sacrifice as He took the sins of all mankind to the cross. It symbolizes the animal that the priests took and laid their hands on for the sins of the people. Only God could redeem man from sin. The blood of Jesus flowed from the cross, the altar that was made. At the death of Christ, the veil of the temple was rent and now, whosoever desires to be “bathed” in His blood can receive I Him. The Altar Evangelist must minister the “Good News” of Rest and Re-Creation through the Holy Ghost to all potential disciples. All God wants at the altar is a broken and contrite spirit, then the needs of man will be met.
The Altar Evangelist must exhibit love and compassion for souls. This must accompany a great desire to see souls saved and delivered! Only when the Altar Evangelists can fully understand the work of the altar in the past, can they effectuate the work of the altar for the present.
THE WORK PLACE – Part 11
In consideration for altar evangelism, where else does the work place take us? You must set up specific positions for the altar evangelist to minister from during the call to the altar. These positions and their functions will vary according the floor plan of your local assembly and the number of workers that are available. You can be flexible, but I encourage structure in operations.
Today in many hospitals, birthing rooms have been established which facilitate the birth of the new baby into this natural world. The room is so designed that it is conducive for the birthing process, as well as comforts the expectant mother. As in the birthing room for the natural birth, the mode to deliver the child may have some variances, but the process is done in a decent order. There must be order to prevent chaos. The same is true with the spiritual birth process.
During the call to the altar, I encourage you to have a person(s) standing in the aisle to bring souls to the altar. The aisle
evangelists are the designated persons who are in route to assist the person done the aisle to the altar. They are the movers. They are to greet the people as they come out of the pews. They are to comfort when necessary. Often, the person coming to the altar may already be broken from repentance. The aisle evangelist should only comfort them while taking them to the altar and deliver them to the altar evangelist. The altar evangelist is the designated person to spiritually minister to them. Please note, the aisle evangelist should not just “drop off’ the person, but make sure they are given to the altar evangelist. Never leave someone crying alone at the altar, especially when deliverance is imminent. At that important and critical point, they need the covering of an altar evangelist.
After the aisle evangelist has walked the individual to the altar, they can thank them for responding to the Word and moving positively by the Spirit of God to His call. This insures them that they have made a positive and definite move toward God. Then let them know that an altar evangelist will assist them.
The following are some suggested statements that may be used by the aisle evangelist when first greeting the person coming the altar:
1. “You have made a very wise move in your life today!”
2. “You are making the best move of your life!”
3. “We are here to assist you in your need today!”
THE ALTAR EVANGELIST’S POSITION AT THE ALTAR
Firstly and most importantly, all the members of this ministry must be a “worshipper.” As the call and invitation are made for persons to come to the altar, the worship of the altar evangelist is important to the move of God at the altar. Your worship will confuse the devil in his attempt to dissuade a person from making that important decision to respond to God’s call!
You will receive the candidate at the altar from the aisle evangelist. You will greet them and find out their name (should it be unknown to you). Remember, you must be personable and people like to be called by their name. If it is needed, take time to comfort them. An altar evangelist should always have available anointing oil and tissues. Assess their need(s) and let the candidate know that you are there to assist them. The altar evangelist spiritually ministers directly to the specific needs and then spiritually directs prayer to that need. The altar evangelist must for in a covenant relationship, beginning from the moment the individual is received, to see the person through. The altar evangelist must offer the “power to change.” Speak to the individual about Jesus Christ (not the church). You must identify if the candidate realizes the need for change.
The individual must make a decision and you, as the altar evangelist, must encourage with sensitivity that decision.
I greatly discourage the use of “fear” to those who do not accept to the changed. You don’t want people to say “yes” out of fear, but rather because of the love God has for them. If a person is not ready to make that decision, let them know that you will be praying for them and encourage them to remember what God has done for them at that moment since coming to the altar. It’s important to remind the person that God’s calling them and that they are being drawn by God’s love to make a change. Always encourage them that you look forward to the day they return and are ready to make that change on their life. This now puts the altar evangelist in a position as an intercessor and you should keep that person in prayer, especially on your fast days.
THE BAPTISMAL COUNSELOR
In our local assembly, the deacons, trustees, along with their wives physically assist the candidates for baptism and they initiate the spirit of expectancy to receive the Holy Ghost. In some churches there is a committee designated for assisting the candidates for baptism. After the candidate(s) has been dressed for baptism, the baptismal counselor awaits to continue building their faith. This can be done by referring to Acts 2:4 and Acts 2:38. They are encouraged to receive the Holy Ghost and expect the Holy Ghost. The baptismal counselor should “maintain the air of expectancy” while the candidate awaits the baptism.
THE ALTAR EVANGELISM RECORDER
The function of the recorder is to complete the victory list each Sunday. It is important that proper information is kept and maintained on all how receive the new birth experience, as well as potential candidates. What means of data that is kept on each individual (e.g. name, address, date of water baptism, date of spiritual baptism, date of reclamation. etc.) is determined by your local pastor and/or church officials. The information will be needed for follow-up communication and whatever data is received must be kept in an organized manner.
PRAYER ROOM COUNSELORS, HOLY GHOST RECEIVING ROOM COUNSELOR, AND ATTENDANTS
The function of the Prayer Room Counselor is to assist the candidate with receiving the Holy Ghost. The Prayer Room Counselor should explain to the candidate that they have been obedient to the Word of God according to Acts 2:38 and should expect to receive the Holy Ghost. The candidate should understand that with the baptism administered in the name of Jesus Christ, they will be entering into a “new life.” This new life is in direct relationship with God who desires to dwell within them through the Spirit.
Of the altar evangelists that are working on any specific day, someone should be designated as the one altar evangelist who is in charge and takes responsibility for all the remaining altar evangelists and their respective activities. This person who is in charge, is designated as the “team captain.” Depending on the number of altar evangelists that are working, the team captain should be stationed at a position where they can view all the workers and potential candidates as they come to the altar. Normally, this should be toward the side position. The team captain must be prayerfully familiar with all the functions and duties of the entire ministry.
The team captain must be able to know and follow the move of Spirit, as well as be able to identify how God is moving and leading the Pastor or service leader. The team captain must be ready to respond to the call of the Pastor or service leader in facilitating direction from the Holy Spirit. Thus the team captain, knowing all the functions, must be flexible at all times. This person must give clear instructions and have the ability to communicate with all other workers. The team captain also must recognize when to mobilize other altar evangelism team members when needed, such as at the time when there is great response of individuals to the altar.
THE WORSHIP LEADER
Prayer must be done by the altar evangelism team before they enter the sanctuary to begin their ministry responsibilities. It is suggested that one individual be designated as the worship leader. Should your local church’s order of service permit, the worship leader will lead the altar evangelists in worship down the aisle to the altar for worship before God. Worship ushers in the presence of the Lord, and the move of God is predicated on His presence in the service. The worship before the Lord could be for just ten or fifteen minutes, but it should be done reverently. Remember, people who have congregated in the sanctuary tend to talk and fellowship before the actual worship service begins. Someone must be responsible for focusing everyone’s mind in to God and the purpose for the why they have gathered. Of course, this concept of worship prior to service must be approved by your local pastor, but it has had a very positive affect in our assembly.
Evangelist Joyce Phifer on WORSHIP: Sometimes we interchange the word “praise” for “worship.” This is not correct. “To praise” is to give acclaim for something that one has done. “To worship” God, you must worship Him for who He is or for His Goodness. Worship then becomes an attitude of the heart. You have already purposed in your mind [heart] that you will worship Him regardless of your circumstances. Worship is not an emotion! It is the mind set of the person who is giving worship.
The scripture informs us that “ye worship ye know not what…” (St. John 4:22a) “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.” (St. John 4:23) “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:” (Exodus 34:14)
Worship is not the outward sign of the lifting of the hands, but rather the inner attitude of the heart that has purposed to worship God. Worship makes God feel good about who He is. Worship is not designed to make you feel good; but when engaging in worship, your spirit will excel and soar high above your circumstances.
AREAS OF SPECIFICS
For those to whom you minister that are not familiar with our means of worship or God’s true plan of salvation, it is importance to take time at the altar in explaining the R.P.Y.R. principles: Repenting, Erasing, Yielding, and Receiving. You don’t have to teach a Bible class while at the altar. This can be done simply and briefly.
Repentance is an honest confession to God that a person recognizes that they are a sinner and have sinned, and resolve to turn completely away from that sinful lifestyle. God has bound Himself under a promise that He would forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all unrigtheousness, if we just confess them. (I John 1:9) The question is not God’s willingness to do so, but the sinner’s attitude toward his sin. The candidate must feel forgiveness. Through your counseling, let that person know that baptism in the name of Jesus Christ moves them into a “relationship” with God. By being buried (water baptism) with Him , we are planted together in the likeness of His death. (Romans 6:14) As you are conversing with the candidate at the altar, keep in mind the Old Testament altar, and God will flow the words of faith out of your mouth.
At the time you begin to assist a person to receive the Holy Ghost, here is a list of phrases you can use:
2. COME IN JESUS
3. PRAISE JESUS
4. BELIEVE GOD
5. YES, SAY YES
6. HIM COME IN
7. DON’T STOP PRAISING HIM
8. I KNOW YOU FEEL HIS PRESENCE
9. GO ALL THE WAY WITH GOD
10. JUST SURRENDER
11. GOD WANTS TO COME IN
12. HOLD ON TO HIM
13. LISTEN TO HIM
14. OPEN UP YOUR HEART
15. WE’RE HERE PRAYING FOR YOU
16. HE’S RIGHT HERE
17. JUST PRAISE HIM
18. GIVE UP
19. JESUS PROMISED YOU
20. THAT’S THE WAY TO PRAISE HIM
21. GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU
22. WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND(ask if a person seems preoccupied)
23. GET A PICTURE OF JESUS IN YOUR MIND & SEE HIM COMING INTO YOUR HEART
24. KEEP YOUR MIND ON JESUS
25. JESUS LOVES YOU SO MUCH
26. JESUS IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
27. TALK TO JESUS
28. RECEIVE HIM
29. THE HOLY GHOST IS A GIFT FROM GOD, YOU DON’T HAVE TO WORK FOR HIM
30. GOD WANTS TO BLESS YOU
31. YOU KNOW HE’S GOOD
32. LIFT UP YOUR HEAD AND LOOK TOWARD HIM
33. LIFT UP YOUR HANDS BEFORE HIM
34. WORSHIP HIM
35. DON’T STOP
36. PRAISE HIM THROUGH THE TEARS
37. IT’S ALL RIGHT TO CRY
38. EMBRACE HIM
39. LOVE HIM
40. REACH OUT TO HIM
41. HERE HE COMES
42. YES, THAT’S HIM
43. LET HIM BLESS YOUR SOUL
44. NOW YOU’RE PRAISING HIM
45. THAT’S WHAT YOU WANT
When the opportunity avails, you should explain to the recipient, the process for receiving the Holy Ghost and what to expect. They should have a thorough understanding that as a sign to them when the Holy Ghost has come into their life, they will speak in another language that they have not learned but as the Spirit gives them the utterance. Of course, sometimes a person is so overwhelmed with the Spirit as the come to the altar or just sitting in their seat that you don’t have time to explain. Never break the move of the Spirit to follow a set pattern of operation. You must learn to “move as the Spirit moves!”
Sometimes, when assisting a person to receive the Holy Ghost, it is not good to call that person’s name. It could be a hindrance to them to hear you calling their name when God is calling them also. For those individuals it is good just to say only phrases without using their name.
Remember, the “laborers of the harvest” can’t complain when souls are in need of deliverance. You can’t rush out of service when there’s a need at the altar. I really become tearful when I see church members leave at the end of the sermon just when the call to the altar is being made. Many then wonder why God isn’t moving and adding to the church. It’s because we “move out” on Him. I feel His tears when people run to the door to exit the sanctuary. I encourage those activities to cease. Ushers play an integral role with the altar evangelism ministry.
They must be very sensitive to the move of God and stop people from leaving the church when the call to the altar is given. People moving in and out become so distracting. It definitely will hinder the effectiveness of the altar call. The sinner can easily conclude, “I guess this is not so important. So many people are leaving.”
Altar Evangelists are never those who leave. If there are individuals who desire to receive the Holy Ghost and you have been assigned to assist that day, your attitude is very important:
If you are tired and impatient..
If you don’t believe, the seeker will receive…
If you feel your dinner needs you more…
If you feel you are the only one who can help someone receive the Holy Ghost because you are so anointed and holy. God doesn’t need this attitude or your help
ASSISTING A PERSON TO RECEIVE THE HOLY GHOST
Some churches designate a specific room or area to assist individuals in receiving the Holy Ghost. Other churches may just gather around the altar in the sanctuary; but, wherever you meet, first pray and invite the Lord in your efforts. Ask the Lord to bring His Spirit and fill all those seeking and to refresh the altar evangelist. Rebuke doubt, fear and any other hindrances. Finally, thank God in advance for filling the seeker before you close the prayer.
When dealing with the seeker, first have them clear their minds of all distractions by thinking on Jesus, “Lord, I believe, ” or “Lord, save me.” Have the seeker to visualize Jesus and keep their mind on Him. While many things can be said and many groups have different methods. one of the best, proven ways is to have the seeker to open their mouth and begin to praise the Lord by saying “Hallelujah!” You, the altar evangelist, must become a worship and praise example. For some individuals, this will be a totally new experience. They will have to follow you in exampleship until they reach another realm in praise and worship for themselves.
Remember that God inhabits or lives with the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3) Praise will bring His presence near. The altar evangelist must become very sensitive to the Holy Spirit. You must stay with the candidate so that you follow their change, as they move closer to God. There may come a time that you must tell them “don’t hold back!” When God begins to move on a person, they may initially become fightened. This, however, is a time when they must yield to the Spirit. With just a whisper in their ear to reassure them of God’s move, the candidate will become relax and allow God to take over their praise. In a moment, they will be speaking in another tongue, as God gives the utterance. Always remember that God doesn’t need us to help with speaking in tongues. Let them speak and speak and speak through to deliverance. You, the altar evangelist, can now sit back and praise God, watching God spiritually re-create man once again!
NOW WHAT DO WE SAY AFTER AN INDIVIDUAL HAS BEEN FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST?
If you have instructed the seeker before hand in what to expect, let them know also that they will testify to it. Ask questions along this line:
• Have you ever felt like this before?
• Do you feel as if something his changed inside?
• Would you like to express how you feel?
• What happened while you were praising God?
Note: Be careful not to question in a manner that might put doubt in the person’s mind about the experience that has just happened to them. Let them enjoy the experience.
If the seeker is vague or hasn’t acknowledge they spoke in tongues, let them go back to praising God, even if you heard them speaking in tongues. Whatever you do, don’t tell the person that they’ve been filled with the Holy Ghost. Let them first acknowledge to you! They must know for themselves that God has filled them with the Holy Ghost!
You can encourage the seeker to start praising God again by saying, “Let’s go back to God. He has more for you of what you feel right now.” The person will normally immediately return and God will speak almost so abruptly that it will shock you. Let them stay with God and encourage them to “bask in the experience” It will be important that the quickly respond. No one should ever leave your care, not aware that God has filled them with His Spirit. Now you can see the importance of taking the time initially to explain to the seeker what to expect. Do not put the emphasis on the tongues and speaking in another language. That often becomes a hindrance, for they will have thoughts of speaking in another language rather than being filled with Holy Spirit.
MINISTRY TO THE BACKSLIDER OR THOSE WHO HAVE FALLEN AWAY
The key to any individual who is returning to the Lord is “repentance. ” That person needs to be broken before God and must conic to the altar with a contrite spirit. As an altar evangelist, you must be careful not to get excited in the backslider just shouting or dancing in the Spirit. The individual seeking to return to God must be instructed on being refreshed in the Spirit. It is important to let them know that God and the church love them. Then reassure them of God’s grace. Even if this person comes back several times, it is not your place, as an altar evangelist, to be a judge. The pastor or whom he/she designates will handle their confession and spiritual restitution. As the altar evangelist, you must focus on their spiritual relationship with God and returning them to that place of favor.
How does one minister to the backslider? More than just the shout, more than just the renewing, and even more than just speaking in tongues (remember, they did all of these things before), the person returning to God must have a break-through to complete victory! Even after they repent and decide to return to God, that individual will still have fears, worries, intimidation’s and many questions in their mind that need to be addressed. Satan and the forces of evil are going to fight as never before to convince them that he still has them bound. For that reason, the altar evangelist must assist in having them “loosed” from whatever had them bound. Here at our local assembly, Bishop Wagner teaches the principle of “binding the devil.” You must prayerfully, with teaching, become an authority in this area. In closing this section, I will identify a few principles in how to bind
1) First understand, only bind what God directs you to bind.
2) You must see and be able to identify the spirit that has a hold to an individual.
3) You must first loose the spirit’s hold on an individual before you bind it. If you do not loose its hold, you can literally bind the
spirit to that individual that will ultimately destroy them. Could this be the reason why we’ve lost so many souls?
4) After you’ve loose the individual from the spirit, then bind the spirit and “tie it up. ” You spiritually tie up the activities of the
5) Once this is done, you cast it out. While in the process of casting the spirit out, don’t let it talk to you. That spirit can become a
deceiver and you’ll stop what you are doing.
Note there are two things that the Devil is subject to: the NAME OF JESUS and the BLOOD OF JESUS!
6) Shut the spirit up and imprison it. Remember a spirit needs a body to dwell in. You have the power to cast it to a barren land and lock it in the earth.
7) Finally, seal where you’ve imprisoned the spirit with the AUTHORITY IN JESUS!
You learn from these principles that you cannot shut up Satan’s kingdom, but you can bind the workers and forces of his kingdom. In so doing, you loose the freed individual to their assigned place of blessing. I praise God for allowing us to emulate His character. He has commissioned the altar evangelist to be on the spiritual “front lines” to recover souls through the ministry of reconciliation. Now you must prove yourself in this great ministry you’ve been called to.
SOME MINISTRY HELPS AND PERSONAL CONCERNS
Altar Evangelism is a close contact ministry. When the choir sings, we view them from afar. When the usher brings us down the aisle, they lead and we follow. When the preacher preaches, he speaks from the pulpit. When the altar evangelist ministers, they are right in the individual’s presence. Close contact is needed, just sometimes for the person to hear audibly what you are saying. Because the ministry of an altar evangelist requires close contact, the following are tips to remember:
Personal hygiene is a must! Poor hygiene can be very distracting. I encourage mints to be used prior to the altar call, but not to be eaten at the altar.
Bodily contact should be kept to a minimum. I discourage shaking, beating, and rubbing individuals. These are hindrances. No
one’s head needs shaking. That will only give the person a headache, instead of the Holy Ghost.
Good posture is proper body language. Use good posture when ministering. Body mechanics are important in how to brace persons that tend to emote to the floor. It’s important for the altar evangelist to be instructed on how to assist the minister in a deliverance line. Utilize two sisters when praying for a woman, and two men when praying for a man. As the minister or prayer leader lays hands on the individual, both persons with one foot in front of the other and an arm across the back, ready to protect the individual should they emote to the floor. Remember to protect the head! Lay it down gently and don’t forget to cover the sisters’ legs.
No unnecessary talking at the altar! Talking among altar evangelists should be kept to a minimum and only utilized when necessary.
No gum chewing at the altar!
ENJOY KINGDOM BUILDING!
Those involved with the altar evangelism ministry must be excited about soul winning. Effective church growth will be enhanced with the establishment of an altar evangelism ministry. Whether you become the leader of the ministry or the follower, all who participate will be taken to a higher level in God. Create an effective team concept and work to build the ministry together. Altar evangelism is not an one-man team, you will need one another. Oh how fulfilling it is to see individuals delivered from sin and the whole team rejoices with heaven over “one” that comes to the Lord!
I encourage you to obey the call. Don’t feel inadequate. God will perfect the ministry in you. You don’t have to be a missionary or a
preacher to be an altar evangelist. Now is the time for individuals to specialize in evangelism at the altar of the Lord. God wants those who will stand up and come forth with integrity as yielded vessels in Kingdom Building.
The above material was published in The Apostolic Altar Evangelism Hand-book by Angela R. Brady.
This material is copyrighted and may be used for research and study purposes only.