Altar Care Ministry
We are looking for guidelines, resources, and training ideas to help make our workers more effective in helping those who have responded to altar calls. What procedures do other churches use to train their altar workers? What process do you take people through who respond to altar calls, and how do they do it? Are there any resources or outlines available for training altar care workers? What materials do you put into the hands of new converts, and how do you follow up on them? We want to see our altar care team better trained, better equipped, and more effective. What suggestions do other pastors have?
Pastor Mike Cameneti – Canton, OH
1. What procedures do other churches use to train their altar workers?
At Faith Family Church, our volunteers must first complete our membership class. This helps new people understand the basic doctrines of our church and gives them knowledge of specific policies and responsibilities that all volunteers must follow in order to operate in their areas of ministry effectively while keeping the pastor’s heart for the ministry.
Once the membership class is complete, we have a seven-week training process for prayer room workers. The prayer room trainee is assigned to a prayer room trainer who begins the training process with an informal interview that gives the new prayer room trainee a chance to explain their heart and give any personal information about themselves. While the prayer room trainer gets to know the new trainee, they are instructed to be attentive and look for any areas, displays or discussion that might be a red flag and may cause areas of concern if the trainee is permitted to minister in our prayer room.
On a weekly basis the prayer room trainer will cover the information in our prayer room manual in detail. Simultaneously, the new trainee will shadow a prayer room trainer they are assigned to during regular service times. Our prayer room manual contains information from dress code and hygiene to scripture and other information pertaining to Prayer Room involvement.
At the end of the training session, the trainee is asked to complete a review test covering the previous weeks of study and shadowing. Upon successful completion, they will begin to work alongside seasoned prayer room volunteers. They will not yet lead in the prayer room, but will help assist until we feel they are confident and prepared enough to lead.
2. What process do you take people through who respond to altar calls, and how do they do it?
People that respond to the altar call are brought to the prayer room where they are addressed concerning the three invitations given for salvation, rededication, and baptism in the Holy Spirit. People are only ministered to for these areas. Salvation and rededication are covered first. Scripture is given to those who have responded for the invitation that pertain to each area they came for and then they are prayed for. These people are then dismissed and we address those who came for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The group that responded to the altar call is usually addressed by just one prayer room volunteer (the leader), rather than one-on-one with all volunteers. This helps keep the flow smooth while ministering and gives the “leader” the ability to orchestrate the flow.
3. Are there any resources or outlines available for training altar care workers?
At this time our training is all done in house with a prayer room training team as mentioned above.
4. What materials do you put into the hands of new converts, and how do you follow up on them?
We give those that answered the altar call a CD by our pastor that is both encouraging and instructs them on the decisions they have just made. They also receive a book by Kenneth Copeland entitled, “He Did it All for You,” as well as a few mini books by Rev. Kenneth E. Hagin titled, “In Him,” and “Why Tongues.”
5. We want to see our altar care team better trained, better equipped, and more effective. What suggestions do other pastors have?
When choosing who is right for working in your prayer room it is important that volunteers are trustworthy, knowledgeable, and personable. Prayer room leaders must be confident in knowing how to keep the prayer room flow focused and have the scriptural knowledge of how to help people receive what they came to the altar for.
Guidelines from Faith Christian Center (Pastor John Pfeffer) for Ministering the the Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Pastor David Emigh – Sand Springs, OK
I believe Altar Care is one of the most important ministries in the church. We have developed a manual that we use at Word of Life and we have the seminar on CD. Anyone who works with the people that respond to the altar call must attend this class. We have everyone that responds to come to the front where I pray a general prayer for them and then release them with our team leader of that area. They take them to a room where the counselors are waiting. We minister to them, take all information, and then give to them mini books on the subject they came forward for. We do a follow up phone call the next week. They also receive a letter from me reinforcing the decision they made.
We do the same thing with our teens and children. We give out materials to them that they can relate to. We give anyone a Bible that needs one. I would gladly sow one of our workbooks and a set of CD’s to anyone who desires a set. You can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pastor John White – Decatur, AL
This has been an always evolving process ever since I have been pastoring. What works today might not work next year. Our culture dictates how we minister to the people. The following is what we have found to work best for us at this time.
When I give an invitation I do not call the people forward. I have response cards on the back of every row. At the end of every service I give an invitation and lead the entire congregation in prayer. I then have those making commitments to please fill out one of the response cards and leave it on their chair or give it to an usher at the conclusion of the service. I then call my altar workers forward and let the people know that we will be available to pray with anyone needing prayer. I then dismiss the congregation. Those who come to the altar for prayer, after praying for them, we give them material that pertains to their needs. We have several mini books by different authors that we use. We also give a Bible to those who need one.
Since I have started this procedure we have had more response to our altar calls than ever before. Multiple people are saved in every service.
The day after the service, we contact those who filled out a response card. I have a person on staff who does this. We also write a letter and have started including a mini book, “Welcome to the Family,” by Kenneth Copeland, or “In Him,” by Kenneth Hagin, or “Why Tongues,” by Kenneth Hagin, depending on the need and whether or not we gave them that material at the altar.
I have a person that is in charge of recruiting and training our altar workers, but I always have to approve their selections. We have at least 12 altar workers available for every service. This number would depend on the size of your congregation. However, I have found the more workers available, the more people will feel free to come for prayer.
Our procedure might not work best for others but it is the best thing we have ever tried. Anyone who would like more information on how we do things, please feel free to contact me.
Pastor Brad Allen – San Mateo, CA
Altar care is a direct extension of the pastoral ministry and must have the pastor’s heart. Our altar care team is made up of home cell group leaders creating a natural invitation to further fellowship and follow-up. Home group leaders or other pastoral leaders are preferred over “gifted” people because you want to help people connect to the church for continued care.
With new salvations we make sure they understood what they prayed, reinforce and encourage them, invite them to meet the pastor and sign up for the next baptism, and invite them to a home group. It usually works best when the altar care worker is a home group leader inviting them to their own house. We have bibles to give away if they don’t have one. We also give a copy of Pastor Billy Joe Daugherty’s mini-book, This New Life.
With healing or other prayer needs, we let people talk for a few minutes but then ask them to be specific as to how we can pray for them. We ask our altar care team not to give counsel but to offer prayer. Many times people will ask important questions like “Should I quit my job?” These questions are forwarded to the pastor. Afterwards, they’re invited to a home group if they’re not in one.
So, the main things are, first using existing pastoral or home care leaders, or at least loyal people with a long track record of faithfulness to the church (because we have had difficulty with “gifted” people trying to attract people to themselves). And secondly, it’s important to create an easy invitation to connect with the church through a cell group or other ministry.
The altar care team is a vital extension of your pastoral ministry in the first line of care for the harvest and taking them to the next level with Christ and the local church.
Pastor Matt Beemer – UK & North Africa
We called it ‘After Care Ministry’ once I realized we didn’t have an altar in our church and most of the people we were raising up as leaders in our ‘Altar Care’ had never seen one. Also, something that worked well on many levels is that I would turn the service over to someone on our leadership team to give a ‘Call to Action’. This came out of my realizing that we gave the offering a ‘slot’, and shouldn’t we put more emphasis on the more important spiritual aspects of the service by having a really focused slot for a strong ‘Call to Action’. This was especially good when we were doing multiple services – I found that by the end of the 2nd and 3rd services on a Sunday AM, I was a little drained to really minister from my heart during these important times. When a ‘minister in training’ was given a chance to do the ‘Call to Action’ they gave it their entire focus and, especially with practice, did a much better job than I would have done after ministering the Word.
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