Should Pastors do Altar Calls?

There’s no need to ask em, by the time I’m done preaching, every head is bowed and every eye is closed.
@FailingPastor

 

 

I have never done an altar call.

I have no problem with other people doing altar calls. I’m not one of those guys who feels a need to mercilessly mock people who do evangelism differently than I do. Do what you need to do before the Lord with a pure conscience.

I have seen altar calls done very poorly, but also quite nicely.

One of the worst I saw was at a junior high camp chapel service. Summer heat had raised the temperature of the chapel to approximately 174 degrees. The junior highers were hot, restless, and choking on sweaty sock stench.

The evangelist concluded his message with an altar call that went something like this:

“If any of you would like to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior tonight, you can go outside where it’s cooler and meet with some counselors. They have cookies and juice available as well, so you can take your time and really talk things over.”

The Holy Spirit fell on this group of kids. There was no rushing mighty wind (except the normal rushing mighty wind associated with junior high boys) or tongues of flame, but so sue me if 90% of that group of kids didn’t run out the doors to get saved.

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My 10 Steps to Pastoral Depression

There’s a lake near my house where I go when I’m down to talk things over with the Lord. I pace up and down the dock, sometimes just stand and stare, but all the while praying for help.

I’ve been there many times. I’ve wept there more than any other place. One afternoon in a state of despair, my head thought, “I could just jump in the water and never come back up.” Before that thought scared me, it seemed rather attractive.

Pastoral depression is a thing. Actually, depression is a thing, doesn’t matter what your job is. Pastoral depression is like any other depression, it’s just more shocking because pastors are supposed to have everything together and know Jesus so well. “Knowing Jesus” in American Christianity is supposed to look happy.

Best life now, don’t ya know.

Depression, in some ways, is no big deal. We live in a culture that over-values happiness and anyone not sufficiently happy is deemed to have “issues.” Moses, Elijah, and Job all asked God to kill them. Paul said he desired to depart. Jesus asked “How much longer must I be with this faithless generation?”

Ministry is tough. It’s ok to acknowledge that. But if a pastor admits his struggles, he merely sets himself up for a lecture. “You gotta have faith, man. All things work together for good.”

Pastors spend all week listening to people complain, yet if the pastor dares complain one time, lectures fly. So now the depression is doubled. The pastor has the initial problem and now the pastor is told repeatedly not to be sad about anything. The pastor has no one to talk to.

The steps to my pastoral depression descend like this:

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5 Things the Failing Pastor Likes About Being a Pastor

Many of my tweets and blog posts are about “negative” things. Mostly that’s because my humor is fueled by making fun of negativity.

But often people just hear me as whiny and complaining.

And they would be correct.

However, making fun of negative things is one way I deal with it.

There are actually many things I enjoy about being a pastor.

OK, “many” was way too big of a word. There are several things I enjoy about being a pastor

1. People crying.
Seriously. People let pastors in to their personal lives, sometimes shockingly so and occasionally disturbingly so, but for many it’s quite healthy and beautiful. I’ve been at the bedsides of dying people. I’ve grieved with people. People share their spiritual struggles, their passion for saving the souls of their loved ones, and their deepest fears, disappointments, and regrets. It’s amazing to me how many grown men have spoken to me through tears over the years. It’s moving and beautiful and I love it.

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Dealing with Church Bullies

When I first became pastor, two men in the church viewed themselves as being the assumed decision makers. They hired me and set my wages and gave me my paycheck.

I was a young, new pastor with no pastoral experience. I knew they were the supposed leaders of the church. I showed them respect and asked their opinion when it came to decisions. They regularly refused to say anything and told me to do whatever I wanted.

So I did. I was then regularly told that what I wanted was the stupidest thing a pastor should want. One day after church, my wife and I were invited over to one of the guy’s houses for lunch. We agreed.

When I got there, guess who else was there? So these two decision makers of the church brought me into the living room, leaving the wives to corner my wife, and sat me in the lowest chair in the living room, which as I recall kept my butt about four inches off the floor, practically eating my knees.

They both stood over me and told me how dumb I was and how wrong my latest decision was. Never mind the fact that I asked them what they thought about this decision beforehand and both refused to do or say anything.

I patiently took their lecture and the awkward chair situation, ate lunch, and went back to making stupid decisions.

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Failing Pastor FAQ’s

Are you a real pastor?
I am currently employed as a pastor and have been for 20 years. Whether I am considered to be a “real pastor” is entirely subjective.

Why are you anonymous?
Anonymity gives me a level of freedom I need and enjoy. I am writing primarily for pastors, not for people in my church. If people in my church know I do this they will read it and it will stifle me. It will inevitably upset some, and generally be unhelpful. I’m writing for a different audience, which requires me to distance myself from my main audience.

What do you mean by Failing?
According to all earthly measures of church success I’m doing a horrible job. I reject all human wisdom regarding how to grow a church and manipulate the masses into attendance and compliance. Since I do not play these games, I look like I have no idea what I’m doing, and the results that people measure success with back up that notion. However, before the Lord, I feel like I’m doing the best I can at fulfilling what the Scripture calls a pastor to do. The Lord’s opinion of me is the only one that counts.

Are all your tweets true?
Most are based on truth, if not true. A certain percentage is entirely made up to throw people off and have fun. A certain percentage is true from my current endeavors. Many are from endeavors in the past and have nothing to do with anything today. Some are based on other pastors and their experiences. Some are just observations of church life I’ve lived through my whole life. No one should ever think that everything I tweet is going on right now. I purposely throw in stuff from years ago and delay talking about current things just to protect the innocent or the guilty or the not yet tried.

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Dealing With People Who Sleep in Church

Pastors, next time you feel your sermons are too boring, remember: The Apostle Paul once preached someone to death.
@FailingPastor

 

God bless Eutychus. Acts 20 says that Paul was preaching late into the night and dear Eutychus couldn’t take it anymore. He even moved to the window. I’m guessing he did this as a strategy to stay awake.

But even sitting at the window didn’t work. He zonked off and out he fell. Paul raises him from the dead, and then, get this, it says Paul then “talked until morning!” I love this!

Paul bores someone to death, raises him up, and then keeps on preaching for more hours!

Thank God this passage is in the Bible.

Do you know how many pastors over the years of Church History have put people to sleep and yet remained confident to keep going because Acts 20 is in the Bible?

Eutychus probably had an excuse. He probably worked long hours, or walked a long ways to get there. I do think he moved to the window in an effort to keep awake. The spirit was willing, the flesh was exhausted.

I give him the benefit of the doubt. I do this because many people have fallen asleep on me while I was talking. Most of these people work long and late hours. One guy worked a moving shift of crazy hours and often just got done with work before coming to church after working all night. He could have just gone home, but he made the effort to be there.

People are busy and here’s the other thing: I’m not always that exciting.

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The Fun of Judging What Pastors Own

Remember pastors: the kind of car you drive might be the deciding factor in whether someone goes to heaven or hell.
@FailingPastor

 

A guy who was going off on me right before leaving my church was in my driveway, in front of his new SUV, and pointed to my used Toyota Camry and said, “Pretty nice car for a pastor.”

I believe I was so stunned by this that I just stood there. Really? A Toyota Camry is too nice? Incidentally, this happened about ten years ago. The guy is now dead. The Camry is still going.

I don’t mind if people have problems with me, that is to be expected. I do appreciate it, however, if the problems are actually legitimate.

A Toyota Camry is a pretty sensible vehicle. It’s a no-frills model. It serves its purpose, which is all I ask in a car.

Anyone who listens to my preaching knows that I emphasize the idea that you cannot serve God and mammon, that we are to let go of the things of this earth and grab on to eternal things. I mention this almost every week.

Of all the problems I have, materialism isn’t one of them. Ask my wife, my non-materialism annoys her at times. This isn’t even necessarily all for spiritual reasons either. I just hate stuff.

But no matter how careful I am, how sensible and thoughtful my purchases are, you can bet someone will judge them.

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