What is the value and the purpose for altar ministry?

I have always believed that people should be able to pray for each other at church. This sounds obvious, but many churches have adopted the view that altar ministry is too intrusive for seekers so they have done away with the practice. I also agree that manipulative or overly aggressive appeals for people to come to the front of the church are a real turn off. That is why I invite our altar ministry team to the front after each service and ask anyone who needs prayer to come forward. It is an open invitation with no pressure at all to respond.

This past weekend, I realized how critical this is to seekers. People come to church for a lot of different reasons, but I am convinced that many seekers come to church because they are hungry for authentic spirituality. A couple came to the front this past weekend and I happened to be there. I asked how I could pray for them and the man confessed that he had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer. I prayed for him and then offered some encouragement. Turns out, they were first time guests. Without my invitation to come forward for prayer, he could have attended our service but walked away without anyone praying for his very serious condition. Plus, I was able to make a connection with them as a pastor. This is the very reason I believe so strongly in altar ministry. It allows people to immediately respond to the message and allows them to receive prayer at church!

What do you think about altar ministry at New Life or at the church you attend? What is the value and the purpose for altar ministry?

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14 Comments

  1. I am really glad we do altar ministry each week, regardless of whether we have a “specific” need to pray for. I think just offering prayer is one of the most important things the church does.

  2. One of the biggests joys for me personally during the weekend services is to participate in the altar ministry and respond to someone requesting prayer. A simple prayer of faith and agreement can bring awesome results!

  3. I am in the process of moving to Portland, Oregon. Right away I looked for a church that did altar ministry because I made the experience here at New Life of how helpful it is to connect to God and to other believers. I can only confirm what you said, Pastor Brady, when I went up to the altar for prayer at City Bible Church (in Portland), it immediately connected me with the couple and now we pray for each other.

    Next step for me is to get the courage up to be in an altar ministry team and pray for others.

  4. My wife and I regularly pray for people at the altar at New Life Church and it is some of the most encouraging and fulfilling time of my week! The people who come forward for prayer on Sundays are looking for hope because they’re, very often, in the middle of a terribly trying time in their life. I love helping people find the hope that God’s word offers. God’s word tells us that we’ll experience troubles in this lifetime but I’ve read the last chapter of this story, Jesus wins! John 16:33

  5. I’m a worship arts pastor visiting NewLife from Northern Nevada this weekend (10/5) we have been gravitating back to altar ministry in the last few months and although the response may not be great initially, the Kingdom Affects are huge over the long run. In times like these, God’s children are longing for a personal connection with a living and active God. The hands-on approach to ministry has great value and just extends and enables God’s word to touch those who otherwise may feel they are out of His reach. Look forward to watching how Jesus uses a church of this size to make that connection. Would love to meet you Pastor Brady… Craig and Deborah Fuller send their regards.

  6. This is so true. I think that by watering down church ministry (in an attempt to be more “welcoming”), we are simply watering down Christ. And if people are going to come to church, He should be the only reason.

    Glad to see you have a blog here Pastor Brady. I’ll be checking in often!

  7. My small group came from a suggestion from an altar ministry team member when I went for prayer. God planted His words through her into my heart and He is doing amazing work in our small group.

  8. Altar Ministry is one of the most important parts of church! Many times have I went to the front to pray and have counsell with a pastor or church leader. My church in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada has a unique opportunity for that. Apart from post-service on sunday morning. The Sunday Night Service consists of worship at the beginning, a few breif announcements/tithes/offerings, then a message that usually is going through a specific passage of scripture (our evening sermon series often are going through a book of the Bible, then the church is given an opportunity to respond, as Pastor Brady said, No Pressure, actually we officially dismiss the service after the sermon. Following we have an extended time of worship (30-45mins.) where the altar ministry team is at the front of the church available to pray for people, the altar is also available for people to pray alone. This is a highly responsive time in our services. Also, once a month we do a special service called “An Hour with God” (not to say that every service is an experience with God). The stage is filled with candle light, with reflective worship that ties into the sermon specifically (usually there would be a song of worship after each point of the sermon). Then closing as all Sunday Night Services do. I look forward to going to church every week!

  9. I love the alter ministry. I have been praying Altar Ministry for many years. I believe the Altar Ministry is very important

    God bless you Pastor Brady. I appreciate the prayers you pray for us after service and that God has given me the gift of intersession so that I can pray for many to be healed and set free from their infirmities, and for people to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (speaking in tongues), and most of all for many to receive Salvation. It’s also important that people know that we care about them.

    Love, Blessings and Prayers,

    Joann Blomdahl

  10. Pastor Brady,Thank you so much for doing altar call every sunday. I do believe that this is of great benefit to all of us who would walk away without seeking the help that we desperately need.This have been a great blesing for me,my family and many others that attend or visit our church.Please continue doing altar call and praying for us at the end of the service, thank you so much for your love and prayers,We Love You.

  11. Raylene Lavender

    October 10, 2008 at 7:48 am

    Thank you so much for writing this blog! This is confirmation as to what the LORD has impressed upon me recently. Earlier this year, I visited a church in my area every week. I felt something was missing when the LORD revealed to me that there are never any altar calls. What if someone has an urgent need? How can we see the Holy Spirit at work if people are not given the chance to respond to the message? Because I feel very strongly about the need for altar ministry, I do not plan to attend that church again.
    This past July, while on vacation in Colorado Springs, I visited New Life Church. In response to the message, I went forward for prayer. I not only received prayer, I also received a Bible verse as a promise from GOD.
    I thank the LORD for New Life Church. May GOD richly bless you.

  12. Christianity is an active faith. We CAME to Christ in faith, and are to LIVE in Christ by faith. Both responses are demonstrating an active faith.

    Alter ministry requires folks to activiely engage their faith in Christs work, and also gives opportunity for another believer to walk out Christs calling to minister and pray for one another.

    Putting these two together sets up an miracle, for God to be glorified. That is what church is all about, Christ being glorified.

  13. Tonight I was praying and asking God to help me in the area of prayer. I have no problem praying with my children but when it comes to my peers I get fearful. Fearful of being judged. When I asked God to show me what to do about it the answer came like a 50lb weight hitting me square in the chest. I clearly heard God tell me to join the altar ministry team. I thought to myself, how am I (one who is fearful of praying in front of my own peers) supposed to pray with people? Then it occurred to me that I don’t have to be perfect in prayer, I just have to show them that someone cares. I know that if I do that part, God will give me the right words to say. I was so happy to have found your blog Pastor Brady, it has confirmed to me what God is telling me to do. We miss you here at Gateway!!

  14. the alter team at new life church is amazing. on sunday the 7th i went up for prayer after Pastor Brady spoke about greiving and mourning the loss of something, a family member, relationship etc. i have recently broken up with my boyfriend after four months of dating. it was the hardest decision i made and my heart was broken. i went down to the front to get prayer, and when i was down there i spoke to a lovely couple. i repented before God and them of what i did in the relationship and sole ties were broken that morning. in the middle of prayer this wonderful lady (i do apologize that i dont remember her name), told me that she sees God placing a white robe around me and that my tears are falling on Jesus’s feet and i am wiping away my tears like the prostitute did when she fell at Jesus’s feet. she told me that God has forgiven me for i have repented and that i need to also forgive myself and its ok to grieve and mourn the loss of a relationship. it was very touching to me and i could start to feel my heart bein peiced back together a little bit at a time.

    the altar ministry team is incredible at new life, yes i do have to admit at times i feel that when i should go down for prayer i dont because i am intimidated…but the question is what am i intimidated of that stops me from going to get prayer from this incredible team? and i think that is a question we all need to ask ourselves.

    thank you New Life Church altar ministry team.

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