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Altar Call Theology, The Pastorpreneur and the True Gospel

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Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. - Acts 20: 26-27 (ESV)

One hundred years ago preachers were concerned about the state of the sinner; today they are concerned about the state of their church. The Pastorpreneur is someone who uses titles from days long past but no longer adheres to what they were meant to be. Andy Stanley was once quoted as saying the word "shepherd" was no longer culturally relevant and that churches become strong through the leadership of the CEO and not the working of the Lord. The true state of the church in this country is that the majority of churched people are actually unsaved. They are goats who are trying to be taught how to act like sheep, as Paul Washer once famously quipped. There are a lot of moving parts that contribute to this problem. Being more concerned about herding than shepherding is only one such part. Preaching a watered down, sugar coated, seeker friendly gospel is another. A gospel that never costs the listener anything. Likewise we see the new wave of "worship" music contributing as well. Purpose driven teaching prefers entertainment style worship, where the congregation are spectators, to participatory worship, where the congregation are actually worshiping God. Throw in the "friend of God" theology of most modern music and the deception is nearly complete. That leaves the altar call theology to examine.

If you have been in nearly any church you know to which I speak. As the motivational or self help message starts to wind down, the Pastorpreneur begins the altar call stage of the service. If you want to know when this begins, listen for the sappy music to start playing in the background,designed to make the atmosphere seem spiritual as the speaker employs the textbook altar call. There are the usual parts of the call:

"Everyone bow their heads and close their eyes"

"No one is looking around"

"If you want a better life raise your hands"

"I see that hand, thank you for that hand, hands are going up everywhere!"

"If you raised your hand I want you to be bold as the team comes to sing again"

"Meet me at this altar because I want to pray for you"

The Pastorpreneur then leads the folks in a very short, benign "prayer", and then proclaims they have been saved from hell - glory hallelujah! Except in most cases they really are not. Now let me be clear. Altar call theology can work. People can be saved. I was saved during an altar call. I was not saved however merely because I went to the altar and said a prayer. I was saved because I genuinely was seeking God and He is not difficult to find. I was saved because the Word that was brought before the altar call was the true Gospel, which included a frank discussion of my sin and need for repentance. I was saved because the weight of my sin became unbearable. With those things in place, the altar call was merely the means of my asking Christ for forgiveness; which He mercifully granted to me. I had said the sinner's prayer four years earlier but was not saved. Without repentance, there is no regeneration.

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