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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Simple Church Minute 58--altar call

58—altar call
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute
            In John chapter 15 verse 5, Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without me you can do nothing.”
Charles Finney taught that the only purpose of preaching was to win converts.  Two of the techniques used were music, and the altar call—a climax to a speech in which people were urged to stand and come to the front of the meeting place to receive prayer.  Finney also introduced praying for individuals in public by name, organizing groups of people to visit people at their homes, and scheduling special meetings every night.
            D.L. Moody also emphasized individual salvation.  He introduced to Christianity door to door witnessing, evangelistic advertising, popularized the decision card, specifically coming to the front to be led in a prayer of repentence, and the idea that the world might end any moment.  Billy Graham introduced the idea of asking everyone to bow their heads and close their eyes before he asked those wishing to be saved to raise their hands.  John Mott is connected to the phrase “the evangelization of the world in one generation.”
            What’s wrong with any of that?  First, it seems the apostles were more concerned with persons truly making a decision to follow Jesus, and those that did to be mature in faith, than with either seeing how many people they could communicate with, or how many persons they could get to agree with them, disconnected from lives truly changed by Jesus.  Second, some of these techniques are psychologically manipulative.  We believers struggle today with the amount of neighbors who have somehow said a sinner’s prayer, but it takes faith, not just saying certain words.  Third, techniques are not a substitute for the Holy Spirit.  Fourth, some have preached the gospel for fame, power, and money.  These problems are symptoms of the unscriptural divide between professionals and everyday believers.
            You can email me at  For more info on organic church*, visit or locally at (local website).
On the recording, at this time, it says, “house churches.”  While that phrasing is OK, to say “organic church” is better.  I comment on that in blip 94.

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