Invitation time observation

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by J.C., Apr 1, 2003.

  1. J.C.

    J.C.
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    One thing that does quench the spirit, I believe, is peoples actions leading up to and during the invitation.

    Let me explain.

    Some regular church members consider the time of invitation to be just the "thing" to do before they go home. Just before we sing the invitation hymn or chorus, the pastor normally explains what the invitation is by summarizing the plan of salvation, sharing how to join the church, get baptized, etc. It is at this time that every eye should be on the pastor and believers should be in earnest prayer for the lost. The reason many don't pay strict attention to the pastor is because (1) they are saved already, (2) they have been baptized, and (3) they are members in the church and feel that the pastor is talking to only lost people and non-members.

    Some of the behaviors I notice during this time include: closing Bibles (including zipping up Bible covers), checking make-up (I've not seen one man do this yet so this is a "knock" on the ladies), getting their belongings together to leave, and looking up in the bulletin the hymn number of finding the words to the chorus on the back of the bulletin.

    Here's the problem with these extra curricular activities during this time: Imagine that there is a nice young couple visiting church for the first time. This couple is unchurched and unsaved. They have been observing the service (since they can't truely worship themselves until they know God) and following along with whatever the people sitting in front of them do for the most part (they don't want to do the wrong thing). While the pastor is sharing the aforementioned information, this couple that has been moved by the Spirit gets sidetracked because they think they are supposed to be getting the songbook ready or whatever the "rest" of the church is doing.

    Sometimes it is the little things we do or don't do that can be stumbling blocks.

    Look around in your church this Sunday during this portion of the service and see what distractions a visitor might also see.

    Wait, bad idea.

    You should be concentrating on the pastor during this time.

    May God save someone in each of our respective worship services this Sunday!
     
  2. stubbornkelly

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    Erm, why the pastor, specifically? Should we not be focusing on God?

    At my parents' church, people sing during the invitational period. I haven't observed much - if any - closing up shop. But it's a good thing to be mindful of, certainly.
     
  3. Abiyah

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    We don't have an "invitation time," but if we did, I
    would be praying.

    If this is happening during an invitation time, it is
    likely because of poor planning or because the
    leaders are unaware of this distraction. Perhaps
    a little brainstorming is due.
     
  4. Daniel David

    Daniel David
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    Maybe the problem is with the "invitation" time. :eek:
     
  5. J.C.

    J.C.
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    SK,
    Yes, the concentration should be on God. It is the pastor who, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is being used by God to share important information with the congregation concerning how one might respond to God's moving in their lives.

    Abiyah,
    I'm surprised that all Baptist church's don't have some sort of portion of the service where there is an altar call or something. Hmmm? I believe the leaders in the church are somewhat aware of this, but I will bring it to their attention soon. I wanted to get some opinions on this matter and I'm glad I began the topic.

    Preach the Word,
    I'm not certain what you mean. Please elaborate.
     
  6. Rev. Joshua

    Rev. Joshua
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    J.C., the concept of altar calls and invitations are a very late addition to Christianity - and something that contemporary baptist churches are rejecting in increasingly larger numbers. (Can someone remind me of the name of the fellow who brought altar calls into prominence? Finney?)

    Joshua

    P.S. I strongly question your belief that someone who has not made a verbal profession of faith is unable to know God in some sense and is therefore unable to worship.
     
  7. J.C.

    J.C.
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    Reverend Joshua,
    In my opinion, worship, in part, is me communicating to God His worth. I acknowledge him for His provision, for His salvation, and for His grace, among many other attributes that are worthy of assigning worth to God.

    John 4:23 "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."

    I am, in spirit and in truth because I have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. A lost person, irregardless of their head-knowledge of Jesus, is not "in spirit and in truth" and can't worship.

    God can't hear them:
    Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous.

    Psalms 66:18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

    I might be wrong on this, but based on these scriptures, that is my belief. Other scriptures that I learn in the future may convince me otherwise. I don't have all the answers (of course you know that [​IMG] ) and am willing to learn.

    Thanks for your tenderness as I continue to learn the Word.
     
  8. Gina B

    Gina B
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    There's a few things that bother me during services. As for the invitation, it's hard to take seriously because WHY does the invitation last about 3 minutes and then you lose your chance? LOL They don't say that, although it's implied with "we're only going to sing one more stanza and then it'll be too late" or other such comments. And WHY do most ask not to keep eyes closed and say "nobody's looking, you can come up and if you're fast enough nobody will noticed you tripped over five people trying to squeeze out, said a 25 second prayer, and tripped over them again on your way back from this great spiritual moment you just had". If you're going up and kneeling in front of the WHOLE CHURCH why ya gonna feel better if you think nobody's looking? I don't get the whole thing.

    My main issue is with praying. There's no respect. Pastor starts praying and people are zipping up their bible cases, the singers are heading up front, the ushers are walking up to the front, during the closing prayers someone is headed out back to be ready to open the doors and shake hands. Would people really be that upset over taking an extra ten seconds at church so ALL could show respect while we prayed to God? Like you're saying about the invitation, it's become routine and means NOTHING to most people. I don't get the invitation, but I'm respectful during it anyhow.
    But come on, walking around or zipping bibles during prayer? That's just really disturbing!
    Gina
     
  9. Daniel David

    Daniel David
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    Please see the fundamentalist forum for a discussion on altar calls. Basically, it is a manipulative method to guilt people into thinking they are "getting right with God". Just so you know, Josh and I are poles apart theologically. It has nothing to do with Fundies or liberals.
     
  10. Thankful

    Thankful
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    Most of your know my stand, I still think the invitation is appropriate if conducted properly.

    By properly, one should understand that they do not have to come forward to be saved, etc. etc.

    When the pastor says we will sing one more stanza, it means the last chance for that service, not forever. And that should be explained.

    In our church, when someone comes forward, they are teamed with a trained counselor and if a decision is made or has been made, it is then announced to the church. This our method of people joining our church.

    Most of the people in our church do what J.C. described during the offertory which is last at our church. I noticed for over a year that several couples would get up and leave, two of them deacons, and my thoughts were, they must want to get in line at the restaurant early. [​IMG]

    Later, I learned that they are the money counters...They count the receipts and prepare the deposits for that day. :D But I wonder what visitors think?
     
  11. Abiyah

    Abiyah
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    I have no opinion toward general invitations, but
    the way they are handled is often certainly not
    good, in my opinion. Many people make
    emotional and unthought-out decisions to "go
    forward," and I am not one who believes that a
    handshake and a signature on a card saves. 8o)
    I know that there are places where instruction
    and advice are given, but I have never heard how
    this is handled.
     
  12. J.C.

    J.C.
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    Gina,
    You have some good points.

    I guess the invitation has to end at some point. After all, the chicken is just about to hit the deep friers at the local restaurants. :D

    I don't understand the entire "eyes closed" thing either. If a person is making a public decision to follow Christ (in salvation, church membership, repentance, or prayer for someone), why would they be ashamed of this? We don't have an "eyes closed" invitation.

    I agree. Sometimes churches expect the service to flow like a musical or a play. Everyone must be in their "place" when the prayer says "amen". I guess those 10-15 seconds that are saved are crucial. ;)

    PTW,
    I'll check on the forum to catch up on the debate. When I invited Christ into my life (during an invitation), the only manipulation was the incredible presence of the Holy Spirit convicting me of sin and convincing me that through Jesus' shed blood that He had given me a gift of salvation that was mine to be had. I got right with God that day, during an invitation. I will admit that sometimes people might not be sincere when they go to the altar during an invitation and they may walk away from the church building as lost as they came, but that is not the fault of having an invitation in a worship service. Declaring an invitation an all-out manipulative method that tricks people into believing that they are right with God is wrong. Many hundreds of thousands of people experienced the same calling of the Holy Spirit as I did and invited Christ into their lives during an invitation.

    Thankful,
    Same here. In addition, that person receives counseling and is enrolled in a new believers class, taught by the pastor to help teach them the Word so they fully understand their decision.

    Abiyah (beautiful name, BTW!),
    You are right, this does happen unfortunately. You are also "dead on" when you say that a handshake and a signature on a card does not save! I think invitations can be very useful in a church service. Those attending the worship service have heard God's Word, have possibly heard testimonies of God's working in people's lives, and have heard God's Word in song. We know that "...ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:32)" and these people have just heard the truth. Having an invitation is an opportunity to make a decision based on hearing the truth. Some decisions made during the invitation are private and are simply between that person and God. Some people approach the pastor and want to make public their decision based on what freeing truths they learned that day.

    Thank you all for replying to my post. I do enjoy understanding others view on this topic. [​IMG]
     
  13. Ed Edwards

    Ed Edwards
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    Abiyah: "I know that there are places where instruction
    and advice are given, but I have never heard how
    this is handled."

    I need to run off to work.
    Surely i'll get off work sometime?

    I've been a counselor in my church
    for some 35 years. The bulletin lists
    two men and two women who are the
    first responders. If more come forth
    at invitations, more counselors are
    available.

    Abiyah: "I am not one who believes that a
    handshake and a signature on a card saves. 8o) "

    I don't think so either.
    It is the heart which God looks upon,
    not the handshake.
    However, I do believe this:

    Romans 10:9 (KJV1873):

    That if thou shalt confess with thy
    mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in
    thine heart that God hath raised him from
    the dead, thou shall be saved


    The invitation is a chance for a person
    to confess with their mouth that Jesus
    is their Lord.

    I know i first did this in April 1952.
    While believing in my heart that God raised
    Jesus from the dead, i confessed that
    Jesus was my Lord. Jesus then became my
    Savior, as well as my Lord.
    Even today, 51 years later, i confess
    (this is kinda public isn't it?) that
    Jesus is still my Lord and still my Savior.
     
  14. SAVED4LIFE

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    Often our pastor will ask that everyone close their eyes, and asks if there is any one in the congregation that is unsure about their salvation or anyone who wants him to pray for their salvation to raise their hands. I think the reason for asking everyone to close their eyes is so people who are struggling will not have to worry about others judging them. I know when I went to church before I was saved, the MAIN thing that kept me from going forward at the invitation was fear of being judged, and I didn't want smothered by people afterwards either. I accepted Jesus into my heart after the pastor of the church came to my home to visit me. I went to bed that night and I knew I couldn't go to sleep without asking Jesus into my life. I am just as saved as I would be if I'd walked the aisle. I DO believe, however, that one must confess publically that they have accepted Jesus.

    I don't zip my bible up, or wrap up during prayer or invitation, but I will admit there have been times my mind will wander off thinking about what I have to do after I leave. I would venture to say we've all payed a little less attention than we should during a church service at one time or another.
     
  15. Abiyah

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    What I don't understand is why they say for
    everyone to close their eyes to give the people
    privacy, I suppose,
    </font>
    • then they ask for hands to be
      raised (can be done without being
      noticed)</font>
    • then they ask all who raised their
      hands to come forward (will be noticed
      by some, even with their eyes closed)</font>
    • then everyone loks to see who has
      'gone forward," (and everyone knows
      this will happen)</font>
    • then they tell the people that a public
      profession is necessary (this will be
      noticed!)</font>
    If there is going to be an invitation, why not be
    totally honest with the people and tell them, "If
    you are sincere, this is going to change your
    whole life, starting now, and everyone around you
    is going to know it. If you are hesitant or
    embarrassed to come, you are either not ready or
    you are not being called."

    And if asking the people to close their eyes is for
    the purpose of prayer, why not just say, "It is time
    for believers to pray." Some people pray with
    their eyes closed and some don't; most of us are
    more comfortable knowing for whom we are
    praying, so open eyes will give that information.

    It just seems, to me, like another empty tradition
    to have everyone close their eyes and go through
    the above scenerio.
     
  16. g_1933

    g_1933
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    I feel that church is the place where I and others who are saved are instructed to live for Jesus and taught to take the Word forth and lead others to Christ. While people should be given the opportunity to respond to Jesus, I don't think this is the primary responsibility of a church service. Rather it is the responibility of those who are in Christ to take what they are taught to others.

    G
     
  17. Thankful

    Thankful
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    Fortunately, Abiyah, Our church does what you suggest.

    The pastor explains the plan of salvation; he tells how trusting Jesus will change their lives.
    He does this at every service.

    We pray!

    We sing!

    People are given the opportunity to come forward with any decisions that they have made!

    If at anytime (and this is not done often), the pastor feels led to have people close their eyes and ask if anyone needs prayer, he does so.

    He also invites anyone who wants to come to the altar and pray during this time.

    I feel very confident that our Pastor is doing everything in his power to give the Holy Spirit
    the opportunity to work during the service.

    Again, I am speaking of our church and I am know that some do as you describe.
     
  18. Pastorba

    Pastorba
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    As a Pastor, I have noticed that during the invitation time it is distracting to people when others start preparing to leave. I do not have an "altar call" every week. For me there are times that it just seems "forced." At other times however I feel led to have people respond publicly. I must admit that rarely does anyone, but our church is a little unique.

    The altar call for me is a time of decision. Whenever I preach I try to make it clear that you are to respond to what God reveals to you through the sermon. I go into every sermon with the prayer, "Lord everyone needs to respond in some way to this message, and even if no one else does, I will." A decision time for action based on what you heard is a way in my mind to cement your commitment to the Lord. It is a practical way for us to be "doers of the word and not merely hearers."
     
  19. Molly

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    We do not have an altar call. We have prayer rooms where anyone can go after the service to meet with an elder for biblical counseling...it is always announced in the service for anyone to go....the process for couseling may go longer than this,but this is the initial meeting. Many come to know Christ through faith and true repentance in these rooms where very qualified men are explaining the gospel to those who are seeking Christ.

    I think this is best. [​IMG]
     
  20. Thankful

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    I am thankful for my church and pastor [​IMG]
     

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