Serving as an altar counselor can be an exciting and rewarding spiritual experience: You have the opportunity to “reap” spiritual fruit for the Kingdom of God. As a minister shares God’s Word, he is actually “sowing” it in the hearts of those who listen. At the conclusion of the service when he provides opportunity for listeners to respond to his challenge, a great spiritual “harvest” is ready to be reaped. As an altar worker, you serve as a counselor to those who respond to the altar call made by the minister. You are working with the minister to “reap” the spiritual fruit of men, women, boys, and girls who have received and acted upon the Word of God.
TYPES OF ALTAR CALLS
The majority of altar calls usually concern:
Salvation: A call for those who need to repent from their sins and be born-again.
Baptism of the Holy Spirit: A call for those who want to receive the baptism
of the Holy Spirit.
Commitment: General calls for those who want to recommit their lives, desire a deeper walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, missionary appeals, etc.
Healing: An appeal for those who need physical, mental, or emotional healing.
Deliverance: An appeal for those needing deliverance from addictive substances, from depression, fear, anger, bitterness, other works of the flesh, demonic influences, etc.
THE ALTAR COUNSELOR’S ROLE
After an appeal has been made, workers are needed to pray individually with those who respond to the call. This is the role of the altar counselor–to draw along side of someone who has responded to the altar call and minister to them. The purpose of this training is to prepare you to be an effective altar counselor and work cooperatively with the pastoral staff.
In this manual, you are referred to as the counselor. The individual responding to the altar call is the counselee. Here are some general guidelines for you in your position of
- When the altar call is made, be ready to move forward immediately when you see people begin to respond.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the person to whom you should minister. Step out into the aisle, start moving towards the altar, and expect the Lord to guide you.
- Men should counsel men, and women counsel women. Exceptions would be in cases where the person responding is a relative (i.e., you are a woman and your brother responds to the salvation call) or when a husband and wife minister together to an individual of either sex.
- If a person is crying or responding emotionally to an appeal, do not interrupt this process unless it becomes “out of order” (extremely loud, disruptive, attention getting). Just draw along side and begin to pray for them quietly. We are
emotional beings, and God often deals with us first at the emotional level.
When the emotion subsides, then you can talk with the counselee. It is important to follow up with ministry even when strong emotions have been evident. For example– crying because one is sorry for sin is not enough. The counselee must understand the plan of salvation and make the proper response of repentance after the “godly sorrow” has subsided.
- Serious problems should be referred to the pastoral staff. For example–if you counsel someone who is suicidal, a young lady planning an abortion, or someone whose home is about to break up–such situations are examples of serious
problems that should be referred to the pastoral staff.
- If you encounter a problem in counseling at the altar and you do not know what to do, ask assistance from a member of the pastoral staff in your immediate area.
- Be careful about personal hygiene. Carry a supply of breath mints or breath spray and use them as you see the minister concluding his message.
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