I once went to a Pentecostal service with a friend (he didn’t tell me beforehand that it was a service, rather that it was just a youth gathering).
I hated it. From the terrible poppy music to the cake in the face bible guessing games to the “come up and boast about your recent converts” bit to the scriptural reading that was read 4 times until we had oxen on the brain to the 1 hour sermon that wandered off topic and was just utterly ridiculous.
So maybe you understand just how I feel when I say that all of that is nothing compared to how much I hated the altar call. It seemed to me like some sort of brainwashing ritual, or some kind of deception where the pastor seemed to be suggesting that he had the power to forgive sins. He didn’t just say once “okay anyone who would like to ask Jesus to help them, come up the front”. No, he went on and on, appealing to the spiritual, mental, and especially emotional sides of people, in the hope that they would be willing to make a symbolic gesture of joining this church. I was already a Christian - I shouldn’t have been bothered by it. The fact that his words seemed like a worm wiggling in my brain despite this, makes me realise that what he was doing there was not natural or fair or anything.
We Catholics don’t need altar calls. We’ve got the sacrament of Reconciliation for those who want to repent and get back into a state of grace. We’ve got private prayer for when someone ‘just wants to recommit themselves to God’. We’ve got RCIA for those who want to join - a careful and detailed process to reflect the importance of the decision, not something resembling one of those informercials trying to sell you a set of steak knives.
Make Altar Calls History!