I have been to many church and camp altars. I have made public expressions of faith and commitment at the front of the church “in front f God and everyone”. I have experienced powerful moves of God at the front of the church, but there is nothing sacred about the front of the church. God uses all the parts of the building to minister. I had such an experience yesterday.
In Sunday service I normally go to the front to pray with people during the “altar time” but I saw that our prayer team had it covered pretty well, so I made an altar for myself at the back of the church, on my knees. My friend Band Aid (his nick name) came and prayed for me and gave me such strong words and images of encouragement. It was a much needed drink of water to a dry soul. I would not have received that a the front of the church. Thankfully, God’s blessing is not limited to my proximity to the front of the church.
As youth workers, many of us build to a time of commitment in our services. The altar call. I love altar calls, but I am not married to them as the exclusive way for God to move on the hearts of kids. I have started some new practices:
1. In Sunday service, many of our students will come and pray for people, but not necessarily come and receive prayer. So, I have circumvented that by going to kids and asking them if they have any needs and asking if I can pray with them right at their seat.
2. I asking kids to kneel at their chairs and allow our volunteers to go and pray for them.
3. I ask kids to break up into small groups and pairs and pray for one another.
I’ll continue to call teens to the front for prayer because it requires an act of courage and some kids need that “stand up and be counted” or “This I believe” moment to give their faith a jolt. But, not all the action is the front of the church. An altar can be built anywhere. If we help kids learn to build altars everywhere and anywhere, no matter where they are (college home, etc.), God will be there to meet them.