Thanks for your thoughtful responses to my last post on altar calls. The consensus is “it depends.” So my next question is: it depends on what? Let’s talk about the factors determining methodology when the Bible is silent.
How does your personal experience influence your methodology?
Many of you referenced personal spiritual growth as a result of the altar call. You also perceived times when the altar call was more man’s pleading than the Spirit’s leading. Experience is both valuable and myopic. We cannot distill the two effects (King Solomon). We can remain humble and teachable allowing our own experiences to mature with Scriptural clarity, providential opportunities, and relationships. I love Jude’s admonition:
Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
What’s the correlation between frequency and effectiveness?
In most contexts, you would agree that greater frequency leads to more effectiveness. Don Bradman improved his hand-eye coordination using a stump and golf ball. Master teachers improve their ability to teach by teaching more often. So why do we argue that greater frequency in church methodology reduces effectiveness? If this is your position, how do you keep other methods from becoming overused? Here’s a couple for you: Should we have announcements after formal worship begins? Should we have services built around communion (instead of communion bolted onto the service)?
How much emotion is too much emotion?
Phillip Brooks defined preaching as “truth through personality.” The passionate communication of God’s word is endorsed (Jeremiah 20:9) and witnessed (take your pick) throughout Scripture. The danger lies in emotion divorced from Scriptural truth.
How does moderation improve church methodology?
This question is the flip side of the frequency/effectiveness debate. Moderation can improve method by allowing more time for refinement (for example, special music in church services). Many of you noted that moderation enhances reception. I concur.
Can you think of additional factors that influence methodology (denominational preference, hermeneutics, etc)?