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  • Writer's pictureDarrell Stetler II

Altar Call: 12 Scripts to Conclude a Sermon

Introduction: Are Altar Calls Appropriate?

Some pastors and churches give invitations to become Christians through "altar calls" or other types of invitation. Some view this as inappropriate. I disagree. As long as it is handled clearly and ethically, there is nothing wrong with giving an altar call. Over my 20 years of pastoral ministry, I have used them, and still do at times.

It is appropriate to give a specific and clear opportunity to respond to Christ's call to repentance... and there's nothing inconsistent with the Bible's call to repentance and giving people a specific place to do that. Coming forward at an altar call doesn't save people, but giving them a clear way to respond is still a viable and effective way to call people to personal faith in Jesus!

In the Old Testament, the altar was the "place you meet God." God had an open invitation to his people to come and meet him there, to commit to obey him there, to offer gratitude there, and more.

The bottom line basis of this post: The invitation to respond to the Gospel should be given in some way, even when it is difficult! If that's an altar call, then go for it!

In this post, we'll discuss

  • why it can be difficult to give an altar call

  • principles for preparing to give an altar call

  • 12 scripts for giving various kinds of altar calls or invitations

Why it's difficult to give an altar call

There are several issues that many pastors have with giving an effective invitation to respond to the Gospel. The culture has changed in some specific ways that make an altar call invitation more difficult than it used to be.

Over the last 100 years in traditional evangelical churches, when the pastor has offered an invitation to discipleship:

  • People generally know why they have come forward.

  • People have an idea of what they should do.

  • People come at a salvation message because they need to be saved.

  • People come at a “recommitment” message because they need that.

  • People come at an encouraging message because they need encouragement.

But that's not always been the case in my church! 

I remember once about 19 years ago, I gave a come-forward invitation, and 19 people came (out of 53 that were in attendance.) I was overwhelmed by the number. I couldn't pray with each one individually, certainly. Several kids and teens were there. Some of them were looking around, laughing with one another, and whispering. It was at that moment, that I realized: They don't know what they are here for!

Why an altar call may not work as well as it used to: 

#1: Pastors & Churches may not be as anointed.

While this could be an indictment of me, I do have to recognize that it could be a reason. Yet I don't think it's fair to say this is the only reason, since many powerfully effective preachers of the past didn't use this method in their context.

#2: Pastors may not be as bold in their offer of the Gospel. 

A lack of courage/faith will certainly cut the effectiveness of any invitation to salvation that you give, not just altar calls.

#3: Pastors may not be clear in exactly what they are offering.  

Remember: the Gospel can be clear to you, without being clear to the person in the pew! It is worth it to spend time making sure you’re crystal clear on what the Gospel offers, and how to communicate it clearly to the person in the pew. 

#4: Seekers may not be clear on what they are actually seeking. 

This may be the fault of the pastor, but may also reflect a larger gap between the largely secular, multi-cultural, overstimulated culture of today and Christianity. 

About 18 years ago, I preached my heart out one Sunday morning about surrendering your life to God, and a Native American woman came down to the front of the church praying and crying. I was so encouraged, and asked her what she was asking the Lord for, “Oh, I’ve just been under a lot of stress.”  She wasn’t trying to be saved. She needed emotional release. It was a frustrating, but enlightening moment for me.

#5: Seekers may have questions that need answers before they can respond to an invitation.

Years ago, I had a couple start coming to my church. I offered multiple come-forward invitations over the course of months, and this couple never came. But one day, he texted and said he had some questions. I went to his house. We sat and he talked. He asked about millions of years, dinosaurs, and the problem of evil, in simple terms. Then he said, “Well, I’m ready.” We prayed and he responded to Christ's offer of salvation!

Sometimes people are not ready to respond to the invitation of Jesus because they’re not sure about some aspect of the faith. This is actually a good thing. The last thing we want is them committing to a faith that isn’t an accurate picture of the real thing!

One popular speaker from years ago told a story of a woman in India who was counseling with him during an invitation time. She prayed the sinner's prayer, then smiled and said, “Oh, good, now I have Jesus and Buddha.” She didn't truly understand!

#6: Seekers may be confused about ethical demands of Christianity.  

If that’s true, the most successful conclusion to their prayer, might be to set an appointment with the pastor to talk about whether this means they will need to quit smoking/drinking, what they need to do about same sex attraction, etc. 

This is part of the “count the cost” that Jesus describes when he gives his invitation to discipleship! Sometimes, this counting the cost is better done outside moments of evangelistic decision. This is what some old-timers used to call "conviction."

So, how can pastors get ready for giving an altar call?

Here are some principles for preparing to give an altar call after your message:

#1: Communicate that hearing the truth means you should do something about it.

If you don't talk about what to do next, you're not helping your church as much as you could!

#2: It's okay to talk about God's Law.

To share the good news of Jesus, you have to explain why we need Him. You've got to present the disease before presenting the cure. A wise man named Spurgeon said, "The Law is like a needle that pulls the thread of the Gospel." He was right!

#3: Plan your altar call before it happens.

Decide what kind of altar call you're going to make. Have everything ready—your papers, your links, everything. I've learned this the hard way. You don't want to try to catch what God is doing with a broken basket.

#4: Be ready to change plans if you feel God is guiding you.

Even if you didn't plan to ask people to come forward, if you feel God telling you to do it, trust Him. God can do great things even when it seems like a strange time. Preparing is good, but God can work beyond our plans.

#5: Have everything you need ready before you ask people to come forward.

- Make a team for praying and helping at the altar.

- Set up a place in the foyer or discipleship resource table where people can find next steps.

- Get materials ready for people to use when they respond.

- Make a special time in your church service for responding.

- Set aside time for people to meet with you if they need to.

#6: Remember, not everyone will react the same way.

I've seen all kinds of reactions in my 20 years as a pastor. Sometimes people cry, sometimes they don't, but that doesn't always show how strong their decision is. What's important is not just feeling better for a little while, but making a real choice to follow Jesus.

#7: Make the call to follow Jesus about saying "yes" to next steps.

Sometimes, the best way to ask people to follow Jesus is by inviting them to actually do something—like join a class, read a book, or help others. It's not just about feeling good; it's about following Jesus into what he has NEXT.

#8: Think of ways to help people stick together and help each other.

Try to find ways to make sure everyone who decides to follow Jesus can have friends to help them and keep them going. This makes it easier for everyone to grow and keep their commitments to Jesus.

Altar Call Scripts

If you're giving a come-forward invitation, clear language is key. Here are some scripts that you might use as templates to help you give a clear altar call.

If you want to download these altar call scripts as a printable, editable Google Doc file, you can do that instantly right here:

1. Come Forward Altar Call

"Today, I want to offer a special opportunity. If you've felt the weight of your mistakes and yearn for a fresh start with God, today's your day. Jesus offers forgiveness and a new beginning to anyone who believes in His sacrifice and resurrection. If this speaks to your heart, I invite you to come forward as a sign of your commitment to follow Him. Our team is here to welcome you, pray with you, and provide resources to help you start your journey with Christ. It's a step of faith, signaling your readiness to leave the past behind and embrace a life led by Jesus. Don't hesitate if you feel that tug in your heart; it's the Holy Spirit calling you."

2. Go to the Back altar call

This method used to be popular with men like D.L. Moody.

"Perhaps today's message stirred something in you, a desire to take your first step or deepen your walk with Christ. If so, we've set up a special area at the back for you. There, you'll find resources like the NewStart Discipleship Journal, designed to guide you in your faith journey. It's a structured path to help you grow closer to Jesus every day, with the support of our community. So, don't leave today without taking that step. Whether you're beginning your walk with Jesus or seeking to grow deeper, our Next Steps area is where your journey of transformation begins."

If you don't have a next step for your new Christians, you can download my NewStart Journal here, so you're ready next time you give an altar call:

3. Grade Yourself and Turn It In Invitation

"Take a moment to reflect on today's message. Where do you see yourself in your walk with God? Green light if you're confidently walking with Him, yellow if there's caution in your heart, or red if you know deep down there's a significant change needed. Write down your 'traffic light' along with your name and contact on the paper provided. This act of honesty is a powerful step towards growth. By turning this in, you're inviting us to support you, pray for you, and help guide you to your next steps in faith. Let's make this a turning point together."

4. Sign Up for Next Steps Invitation

"God's calling us to action, to move beyond hearing His word to living it out. Today, I challenge you to commit to this call. We have several opportunities for you to respond: signing up for a discipleship program, scheduling a meeting with me, or joining our text update list for ongoing encouragement. By signing up, you're taking a tangible step to ensure today's message bears fruit in your life. It's a commitment to let God work in you, to mold and use you. Don't let this moment pass; choose to act and see how God moves in response."

5. Show Up for an Event, Class, or Appointment Invitation

"Feeling the need for God is one thing; taking action is another. We often leave church inspired but unsure how to apply what we've learned. I invite you to change that pattern today by committing to attend [specific event/class]. It's a practical step to deepen your relationship with God and understand His will for your life. This is how real change begins, not just with emotions but with committed action. Sign up, show up, and let's embark on this journey of growth together."

6. Ask Me to Follow Up on You Invitation

"Today's message may have sparked a realization in you, a recognition of a need for deeper commitment or change. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the idea of walking this path alone, I want to offer you my support. Write your name and number down, and hand it to me as you leave. This simple act is a way of saying, 'Yes, I'm ready to take this seriously, but I need help.' It allows us to connect this week, to start a conversation about what your next steps could be. You're not alone in this."

7. Tell Someone What You're Going to Do About the Message Today Invitation

"Let's make our response to God's word today not just internal, but shared. Turn to someone near you and share what action you feel called to take in response to what you've heard. It's in speaking our commitment that we begin to solidify it, making it real and accountable. Then, take a moment to pray together for the strength and courage to follow through. This is how we grow—not in isolation, but together, supporting and encouraging each other in our walk with Christ."

8. Commit to a Discipleship Action

"Have you ever felt a stirring in your heart during a service, like God is calling you to step up, but then you're not sure what to do next? Today, let's make it concrete. If you're feeling called to deepen your relationship with God, to really follow Jesus and live out your faith, I'm inviting you to sign up for our upcoming discipleship class. It's a step that will help you understand what it means to be a disciple and give you practical ways to live out your faith every day. Don't let this moment pass by. Commit to taking this step, to growing in your faith, and to living out the teachings of Jesus in your daily life."

9. Offer to Pray and Minister to Someone

"Look around you; we're all on this journey of faith together, but some of us might be struggling or feeling alone in it. Maybe you've been wondering how you can help or what you can do to support others in their walk with God. Today, I'm asking you to be brave, to reach out to someone nearby, and simply offer to pray with them. Ask them how you can support them in their discipleship journey. This act of reaching out can be powerful, showing someone they're not alone and that their church family is here for them. We want you to know: We're a church that actively cares for and supports each other."

10. Take Communion as a Response

"As we prepare to take communion together, let's use this sacred moment to reflect on today's message and how we're responding to God's call in our lives. This isn't just a ritual; it's a personal encounter with Jesus, who gave everything for us. As you come forward, think about the steps you're going to take to follow Jesus more closely, to become more like Him. Let this communion be a sign of your commitment to walk in His ways, to embrace His teachings, and to live out His love in your daily life. If you're not sure you're ready to make that commitment, take this time to pray and ask God to show you how you can obey. In a moment, after communion, I'm going to ask you to raise your hand if you want someone to come and pray with you."

11. Lead Your Family in Prayer

"For those of us with families here today, I have a special invitation. The journey of discipleship isn't just a personal one; it's something we can share with our loved ones. Before you leave today, gather your family together, right where you are, and pray together. Ask God to guide your family in following Jesus, to help you grow in faith together, and to show you how you can support each other in this journey. This is a beautiful opportunity to lead by example, showing your children or spouse the importance of committing to God and to living out your faith as a family."

12. Spend a Moment in Silent Prayer

"Before we conclude our service today, I want to invite you to a moment of silent prayer. This is a chance for you to talk to God quietly, to reflect on what you've heard today, and to ask Him what He wants you to do in response. It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and miss the quiet nudges of the Holy Spirit. Use this time to really listen, to open your heart to God, and to commit to taking whatever next step He's calling you to. Whether it's making a change in your life, reaching out to someone in need, or taking a step forward in your journey of faith, let this moment of silence be the start of your response to God's call."

What can I do for a new Christian AFTER an altar call?

I'd recommend checking into building a clear discipleship pathway.

Here's a free download of a resource to help you do that:

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