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Tips for an Effective Altar Service


  1. Your altar time needs to relate to what you preached about. As you prepare your sermon, ask the Holy Spirit to show you what would be the most effective altar call to tie into it.
  2. Music is a critical part of setting the atmosphere. Carefully select ONE worship song where the lyrics tie in as closely as possible to your sermon’s theme. Have it playing in the background. You can use CDs or a live person.
  3. Use object lessons or visuals in your altar time like you do in your sermons.
  4. Turn the lights down to keep them focused and to add to the ambience of His presence.
  5. Don’t pray long boring prayers. Keep your prayers short, or you lose the kids. Altar times do not have to go more than 15-20 minutes to be effective.
  6. Give clear instructions and repeat them several times so they understand what it is you want them to do and why. Most of these kids are not raised in Christian homes.
  7. Don’t drag it out especially if no one is responding. Keep your eyes open so you can see how they are responding. Check the atmosphere-is there an anointing there or is it flat? Everybody has flat nights once in awhile. If they are not cooperating, and looking around or whispering in large numbers, you might as well quit.
  8. Don’t expect them to instinctively know how to pray or to worship. You may have to give them detailed instructions like, “OK, raise your hands and close your eyes so you can concentrate on God.” OK, now say this, “Hallelujah, I love you, Jesus!” Train them like you train a kid to brush his teeth or wash the dishes.
  9. As often as possible, if there’s time, give the kids a chance to share what God said to them, what they say, what they were feeling, etc. during prayer time. This is VERY important. It reinforces their experience.
  10. Schedule (example): Your sermon should start by 7:30 to 7:40 pm. You need to end your preaching by 8:00 pm. That gives you 15 to 20 minutes for altar time. By 20 after you should normally be done, and the kids should be getting their candy and their snacks. We want them going out the door and into their cars by no later than 8:30 pm, especially during the school year.

The altar services are probably the most significant parts of a weekly service; it’s one of tile biggest things that makes kids want to come back week after week.


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