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How to Give an Effective Altar Call

The altar call is the most important part of any crusade or evangelistic outreach. It’s the moment where you allow everyone present to make a decision to either follow Jesus or walk away from him. In today’s episode, we’ll be talking about how to give an effective altar call as an evangelist, and how to ensure the people you’re speaking to have the best opportunity to make the right decision.


Evangelism Podcast Host (00:00):
The altar call is the most important part of any crusade or evangelistic outreach. It’s the moment where you allow everyone present to make a decision to either follow Jesus or walk away from him. In today’s episode, we’ll be talking about how to give an effective altar call as an evangelist, and how to ensure the people you’re speaking to have the best opportunity to make the right decision.

Evangelism Podcast Announcer (00:33):
Welcome to the Evangelism Podcast with Dr. Daniel King, where Daniel interviews full-time evangelists, pastors, missionaries, and normal everyday Christians to discover how they share their faith, their powerful testimonies and amazing stories that will inspire you to reach people with the good news. And now, here’s your host, missionary, and evangelist Daniel King.

Evangelism Coach Daniel King (00:57):
All right, let’s talk about how to give an effective altar call. This is the main job of the evangelist, to bring people to the point of decision where they either choose to follow Jesus or they choose to turn away from Jesus. And not everyone is going to get saved, but my goal is that everyone would at least come to the point where they make that decision. As an evangelist, I’m called to bring people to Jesus. And so my goal is to present the gospel in a very clear fashion. People can turn away, but what would be a tragedy if they didn’t understand? And so when I’m preparing my messages, I actually start at the end. I start with the altar call and think, where am I gonna go with this? How, how am I gonna bring people to a point of decision? And then I’ll build my message backwards from the altar call back all the way through to the, the beginning words.

And giving altar calls isn’t something that really train you in school. It’s something you just, you, you gotta learn. So here’s some principles. Number one, I think always give an altar call. One time Reinhard Bonnke was speaking to a, a group of pastors in a hotel ballroom. And God impressed on him to give an altar call. And he thought that it would be very offensive to give an altar call because all these pastors, he, he said, they’re all saved. Why? They would be offended if I thought that they, they thought that, I think that they need to get saved. But in obedience, he gave the altar call, asked everyone, bow your head, close your eyes. And when they opened their eyes, eight of the waiters who were in the room, if I remember the story correctly that’s right, came forward and were standing at the front wanting to give their lives to Jesus.

And so you’re an evangelist. Don’t apologize for giving an altar call. That’s what you do. So give an altar call every single time when I’m on television, they will have lots of different questions that they ask. Why have you come to our country? You know what do you think about this political situation? Or that it doesn’t really matter what question they ask, I’m going to present the gospel. And at the end, I’m gonna, if I get an opportunity, I’m gonna look at the camera and say, you have an opportunity right now to give your life to Jesus if you’ll call out to Jesus. And so, even every single opportunity you speak, go for the altar call. Give people that opportunity to make a decision. Start with the end in mind. Number three. Tell your audience where you’re going. And so often when I preach, I will tell them that there’s an altar call coming before we get to the altar call.

I won’t spring it on them or surprise them with it. So, like, for example, I’ll share a testimony of how my wife got saved. She was in seventh grade in school, and she lied and got caught, and her teacher disciplined her. And she came home, and it was been such a horrible, rough day that she curled up in the back of the coat closet at home and was on the floor crying. And her mom heard her crying in the closet and came and knocked on the door, says, honey, what’s going on? And she says, like, I lied, and I got caught. And, and it’s just horrible. And I just feel so bad. And her mother was wise enough to know that she was her conscience was bothering her because she had sinned. And her mother on the floor of the closet knelt down with her daughter and my wife and, and said honey, you’re feeling bad because you have sin in your heart, but Jesus will set you free from sin.

Do you want Jesus to forgive you of your sins? And she wiped away her. Jesus says, yes, I need Jesus to forgive my sins. And her mom says, okay, repeat this prayer after me. Dear God, in heaven, dear God, in heaven, I cry out to Jesus. I cry out to Jesus. Please forgive me. Please forgive me. I believe Jesus died on the cross. I believe Jesus died on the cross. I believe Jesus rose from the dead. I believe Jesus rose from the dead. And right now, I cry out and ask Jesus to forgive my sins. I asked Jesus to forgive my sins, and my wife, she wiped away her tear. Jesus put joy in her heart, and that day she got saved. And she prayed a prayer with her mother. And in just a few minutes, I’m going to give you an opportunity to pray a prayer to receive forgiveness from your sins.

Get ready because it’s coming. I’m gonna give you the opportunity to pray. The same prayer that my wife prayed, she received Jesus. And today, you can receive Jesus too. And so see what I’m doing? I just repeated the salvation prayer twice before I ever got to the salvation prayer. So when I come to the Salvation prayer, they know what’s coming. Then when I say, would you like to pray with me to receive forgiveness from your sins? They say, yeah, I know what that is. And they’ll, they’ll raise their hand to, to receive forgiveness. And so I’ll ask people to begin to respond to me long before I actually give them the altar call. So I’ll get them to repeat things. I’ll get them to wave their hand at me. You know, I, I share with you my, my sermon about the four greatest miracles in the Bible.

God created you. God saves you, God loves you, and God heals you. And I’ll have them repeat that four or five times throughout the message. And by responding to that, I’m getting them ready to respond. Everyone just say, God loves me. What am I doing? I’m getting that word of the gospel deep in their heart. Six months from now, they may forget my face, but I don’t want them to forget the message that they heard. My goal is that people would remember the message, or at least remember the main points five, 10 years from now that they remember. Yeah. there’s another sermon I preach about the, the paralyzed man who is let down through the roof. In Matthew eight, Jesus says three things to the paralyzed man. The first thing Jesus says is be encouraged. The second thing Jesus says to him is, son, your sins are forgiven. And the third thing Jesus says is, get up, take up your bed and go home. And so today, Jesus says, the three same, three things to you. Jesus says to you, be encouraged. Come on. Look at the person next to you and say, be encouraged. You know, maybe you’re sad, maybe you’re lonely. Maybe you have fear in your heart. Maybe you have doubt in your heart. Well, Jesus has the message for you. He says, be encouraged. Come on, everyone say, be encouraged. Be encouraged. And then Jesus says to you, your sins are forgiven. Sins.

Yeah. And then Jesus says, go home. Completely healed. Come on, everyone say, go home. Completely. Heal. Heal. And so I’ll have them repeat that several times throughout the message. They’re repeating it, they’re learning to, to respond. And so that is preparing them for the alter. See, if I never asked them to respond, if I just got up and spoke and then asked them to do something at the very end, they, they have had no preparation for it. If the, the first thing I ask them to do is to come forward, to receive Jesus, or to raise their hand to receive Jesus sometimes they’ll just sit like a bump on the log and look back at me. They haven’t been prepared. But if, if they’re there with me, they’re responding, they’re already putting God’s word down in their heart. They’re repeating this when it comes time for the altar call.

The altar call is easy. It’s easy, it’s good. You gotta bring people to a decision point. Deuteronomy 30, verse 19. Moses says, I set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. It’s like a test. He says, you can choose this way, the broad path that leads to destruction. Or you can pick the narrow way that leads to life. You can choose to go to heaven, or you can choose to go to hell. You can choose to receive Jesus, or you can choose to reject Jesus. And then Moses gives us the answer to the test. He says, therefore, choose life. He says, the correct answer is choose life. And so tonight, I wanna give you a choice. Do you choose to follow Jesus? Or are you gonna say to me, no, I don’t wanna follow Jesus. I’m gonna walk away from Jesus tonight. Do you choose to go to heaven?

Or are you going to say, no, I’m gonna live in my sin and go straight to the pits of hell. I’m gonna let the devil take control of my life. Do you choose to repent and cry out to Jesus to forgive your sins? Or are you gonna say, Nope, I’m gonna stay in my sinful life and do what I want to do? I wanna make that very clear. I don’t want it to be a wishy-washy. Does I wanna bring people to a decision point? Do you want A or B, do you? And and so the, the clearer you are as a preacher, the easier it is for people to respond. Give clear explanations. Remember that what is familiar to you has never been heard by your audience. And so frequently, I ha ha have here evangelists, inexperienced evangelists, they say if you wanna get saved tonight, and we’re gonna pray a prayer of salvation.

If you’ve never prayed that prayer of salvation tonight, just raise your hand. I’m looking for someone who wants to pray that prayer of salvation. If you’ve never said that prayer, this is your opportunity. Well, someone who’s not saved, they’re sitting there, they’re thinking, I don’t know if I said that prayer. I prayed once. I prayed to my God. I went to the temple and prayed, but I don’t know if I prayed that prayer that they’re confused now. People who have been in church a long time, they’ve sat through like a hundred altar calls. They know exactly what’s coming. They know exactly what prayer is coming. They know what the prayer of salvation is. But someone who’s not a Christian, they have no idea. They don’t know if they prayed that prayer or, or cried out to you. And so my goal is, is to be very clear.

And I don’t use terminology in my prayer that I haven’t already explained. So I don’t say, do you want to be born again? Unless I have specifically used John chapter three as my text, explain what it means to be born again. If I, if I hadn’t had an opportunity to explain that, I say, do you want Jesus to make you a new creation? Do you want Jesus to make you brand new? That’s what being born again means. So, you know, use clear te term terminology. Be specific in what you are asking people to do. If you want Jesus to forgive your sin right now, lift up your hand. Amen. I knew there would be one evangelist that would get saved today. <Laugh>. Yeah. You need to be saved before you go to Nigeria. That, that’s just a prerequisite. <Laugh>. if you wanna join the family of God, please walk to the front right now.

Or if you wanna be born again, bow your head and repeat this prayer with me. I, I want the instructions to be very precise in what I want them to do. Aim for a hundred percent participation in the altar call. And so, as an evangelist, I don’t ask people to make a first time decision because some people in the crowd, maybe they’ve been in church their whole life, maybe they’ve even prayed, pray before, but they haven’t really chosen to follow Jesus. Yeah. They’ve been in church this whole time, and so they, they know the ins and outs, but I wanna make sure that they, right now, today, that they’re choosing to follow Jesus today. And so I’m not asking people to make a first time decision. I’m, I ask people to make a this time decision that right now, if you want Jesus to forgive you, raise your hand.

There may be someone who used to be serving God, and they’ve backs slid, they’ve walked away from God, but the the message has impacted their hearts. And they’re ready. Yeah. Right now, I want to cry out to Jesus. I want Jesus to forgive me. And, and so I will make my alter call broad enough that every single person can respond to it. And so I tell you, I aim for a hundred percent participation for my doctoral research. I, I did a survey of my crusade. I did last month in the, in the nation of Brazil. And we asked the people in the audience, did you pray the prayer with me? And we found that 87% of the people actually said that they had prayed the prayer of salvation with us. And so I go for a hundred percent, that’s the ideal. I want everyone.

But we had 87% that said yes. I, and of those people, we had 641 people that it was their first time decision that filled out decision cards and decided to follow Jesus. We, we also had amazing statistics in this research on of the people. 48% of the crowd came with pain in their body needed healing. And of those 48% 74% said that after the healing prayer, they felt better. Wow. Wow. That’s pretty amazing statistics. I mean, that’s what the gospel can do. Yeah. I mean, we have hard data now to back up, to say, when, when we pray, people get saved, people get healed. Amen. Amen. Give the altar call with urgency. DL Moody, who was a great evangelist in Chicago in the late 18 hundreds. And one time he was preaching to a, a big crowd. And he’s talking about, will you choose to follow Jesus?

And he says, we’re going to think about this this next week, and when you come back next Sunday, I want you to give me the answer of whether you will choose to follow Jesus. And that night on October 8th, 1871, a cow kicked over lantern in a barn, and it caused the great Chicago fire. Thousands of homes were burned. Thousands of people died, including some of those people in D.L. Moody’s service. And DL Moody made a commitment. He says, I will never again let an audience go away without giving them the opportunity to receive Jesus. It’s urgent. You don’t know if someone’s gonna be hit by a truck on their way home tonight. This might be their last opportunity. I’ve had that happen before People have died, have been in service, and, and instantly they’re, they enter into eternity. And how tragic would it be if I didn’t give them the opportunity Yes.

To receive Jesus. So you gotta give it with urgency. That, that it, it, it matters. I give people time to respond. Take time with the altar call. You don’t need to rush through it. That’s the reason you’re there. Take time with the alt alter call. You know, if, if people don’t seem to respond at first, I’ll back up in my sermon and, and I’ll preach it again, and then I’ll give the altar call again. And, and I wanna make sure that people understand. I was down in Honduras and we were invited to speak at a army barracks. And I gave the altar call and I said “If you wanna receive Jesus, lift up your hand.” And the, the commander of this army barracks, he lifted up his hand. And when he lifted up his hand, everyone lifted up their hand.

And I didn’t know if they were lifting up their hand because he had lift, you know, the command when the, you guys knew what the commander does. And, and so I went back to the beginning of the sermon, presented the entire gospel all over again, bring people to that point of decision and said, now, today, I don’t want you to do this because the person on your left or right does it, or anyone else does it. If you choose to follow Jesus, I want you to stand to your feet. And every single one of them stood up at attention and got to lead them in a prayer of salvation. Don’t be discouraged if people don’t respond. Your job is not to bring all people to Christ. Our job is to bring Christ to all people. It’s the Holy Spirit that draws people to salvation. It’s not your profound sermon, your polish speaking or your heart pulling story.

It’s the Holy Spirit. And so you do your job. Sometimes you are in front of a crowd that is like the stony ground. You’re throwing seed out on the stony ground. Sometimes you’re throwing seed out on good ground. Sometimes it’s rocky ground. Different countries are different. Different situations are different. Different neighborhoods are different. But you just go preach the gospel, be obedient to do what God called you to do, and let God draw the hearts of the people. And so you can’t save anyone cuz you didn’t die on a cross for anyone. It’s not your job to save anyone. It’s just your job to tell them the good news that Jesus paid it all. There’s never a bad time to give an altar call give altar call. So here’s some things to avoid when giving an altar call. Don’t try to manipulate people or try to trick them.

Sometimes pastors or, or people can, can seem manipulative. Like, I’m gonna count to 10, and if you aren’t down here by the, by the time I get to, to one, then you’re going to hell. You know, don’t, don’t be manipulative in what you do. Just present the gospel. Give a clear choice. And there’s, there’s some different things that you can do that can help people to respond. But you’re not trying to trick someone. You’re trying to, to really get them to the point where they’re choosing to follow Jesus or, or reject Jesus. Don’t be vague. John 6 44 says, no one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him. And so trust God to save people. Again, it’s the Holy Spirit that draws people to kneel at the foot of the cross and don’t turn the altar call into a formula.

It’s, it’s not, there’s no magic words or magic incantation that gets someone saved. It is, I I think salvation is very simple. Acts 2 21, everyone who calls on the name of Jesus shall be saved. And so I think that if you’re driving down a road with a cliff on one side, and your car goes off the cliff from the time you go off the cliff, and the time your car hits around, if you just cry, Jesus, you can be saved. You know, when the, the thief was dying on the cross next to Jesus, Jesus says, today, you’ll be with me in paradise. There is no time to baptize the thief, no time to disciple him or train him in the things of God. But that day, he was saved because he cried out to Jesus for help. And so I think salvation is, is very simple. And so but it’s, it’s not a formula. It’s, it’s not you. You do this, you do this, you do this, then you’ll be saved. It’s a genuine repentance, acknowledging that you are a sinner and acknowledging that you need the help of Jesus in order to be right with God. And the Bible says that if you confess for your mouth, the Lord Jesus, believe in your heart that God raised in from the dead, you will be saved. So some phrases that can bring people to a point of decision, you can look through

Evangelism Podcast Host (20:50):
Those. Are you called by God to be an evangelist? Do you wanna lead millions of people to Jesus? Do you desire to be trained in the practical side of building a ministry? Then check out the Daniel King School of Evangelism. Learn how to be an effective evangelist from Dr. Daniel King’s 20 plus years of experience. Daniel King has done crusades all over the world in over 70 nations, and has seen over 2 million people give their lives to Jesus. But it wasn’t easy. There was no crusade school. So Daniel traveled the world learning from and observing top evangelists, noticing how they successfully won souls for Christ. Now he wants to share decades of knowledge and experience with you. Topics of the Daniel King School of Evangelism include what is an evangelist, how to be a master soul winner, how to give an altar call, how to organize a crusade, how to raise money for your ministry, and much more. If you wanna be an evangelist, but don’t know where to start, the Daniel King School of Evangelism is for you. Enroll today in the School of Evangelism by going to Daniel King ministries.com/evangelism.

Daniel King (21:52):
Thanks so much for listening today. I am excited about telling people about Jesus, and I want to invite you to be a part of helping us to rescue people from Hell and take them with us to heaven. There’s two things you can do to help. First of all, can you go find the Evangelism podcast on Apple iTunes and leave us a positive review by giving a review, you will help other people find these valuable resources about sharing our faith. And second, would you become a financial partner with King Ministries? Every single dollar that people give us enables us to lead at least one person to Jesus. And so that means for only $1, you can help start a party in heaven. And so today I want to invite you to become a monthly partner. You can start out for just a dollar, but if God puts on your heart to do more, of course you can do more. But please go to king ministries.com and become a monthly partner with us today to help us to lead more people to Jesus. Thank you so much, and God bless you.

Evangelism Podcast Announcer (23:13):
For more information about how to share your faith, or to financially support our worldwide evangelistic outreaches, visit king ministries.com. Again, that’s king ministries.com.

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