Can Catholics participate in altar calls

A friend has volunteered to be the Catholic voice at an ecumenical youth group that many of our Catholic teens attend. The group will be going on a retreat of sorts soon, and an altar call is inevitable. She asked me if the teens should participate in this ritual. I thought no…they have all already been baptized and confirmed in the Church. I have read the positions about the Eucharist being our call. I guess I am worried that teens attending non-Catholic religious events can be easily swayed by all of the glitzy fun and that participating in an altar call might introduce an idea that attending other churches instead of the Catholic church is okay. So…am I off target? How would you counsel the teens that will be attending?

It would depend on the specifics of the “call”

Are they “called” to accept Jesus as Lord? Fine.

I would say no, it gives scandal, because they could appear as protestant, besides its not an altar anyways, its a house of heretical worship, and should be avoided, they shouldn’t be attending non-Catholic religious events, their preachers could be filling your kids with heretical beliefs

An altar call seems like the Protestant substitute for Confession. We hae Confession; there is no need for altar calls.

I would not permit my children to go to a non-Catholic “retreat.” One has to be careful enough about Catholic youth retreats!

Been there done that.

There’s a big difference between seeking the positive effects that this type of experience can offer and instantly lacking everything that’s not THE As being Protestant, heretical, and dangerous.

On the converse I am very aware of the damage to my faith that occurred by putting to much Trust in the preachers at"eccumenical" movements without the backup of proper faith filed teaching of the Catholic Truth.

This type of altar call is the culmination at the end of a programme of outreach and witness to introduce young people to the “Kyrigma” that initial decision to move from knowing about Jesus as intellectual knowledge to the decision to Love Him and place your Faith in Him.

This is a vital part of the faith which most parishes in the Catholic Church completely fail to empathise.

Going to sacramental confession is very different.

i would suggest that provided these groups do not teach against the Catholic faith, and the young people are attending from within a Catholic programme in their parish where the importance of the sacraments and the files of the Catholic faith is taught then this may be a good thing.

I have one question: Is this youth group put on by the Catholic Church or by a Protestant church?

I’d say if it is being supported and put on by a Protestant group, no matter how ecumenical they say they’re being, they have only one real purpose - to get youth interested in Protestantism. If however, it is done by the Catholic Church, then the kids are probably very safe.

This “altar call” notion is a Protestant thing: Folks go up to get “saved” and embrace Christ in a special way and it preceded the invitation to Baptism. It saw a friend do it just after High School and it has not one bit of anything Catholic associated with it. You get called out of the pews to go up to stand in front of the congregation to accept Christ. This is done in some places on a regular basis and folks come to watch specifically this event. The preacher there gives a special homily preceding the actual “altar call” when folks are asked to come up. It gets very emotional. There were folks crying over my friend’s decision to embrace Christ. Lots of hootin’ and hollerin’ too. it seemed like bedlam to me. I was asked by him to accompany him that night so I did. It was sort of a date and he began insisting that I do the same. At the reception afterwards there were all kinds of people all over the both of us and I really didn’t want anything of what they seemed to have and all I wanted was to get out of there. They were really too intrusive.

I watched him and his life get taken over by these folks and it wasn’t pretty. As soon as he fell back into football, which he gave up because it was deemed sinful, which BTW he was very good at and could’ve gone to college on scholarship via his talent, they dumped him. He lost it all - his scholarship, his friends and his trust in God all because he fell in with the wrong Christian group.


I sincerely hope that you’re not involved in any sort of ecumenical work at your parish or anywhere as your angle is as wrong and negative as possible.
I guess you are a former Protestant and that’s why you are so hostile towards non catholic Christians.
That’s put aside, I do however agree with you in everything you wrote except from the text highlighted.
Yes, the one true church is ours and there is no other churches, but the believers of those communities are not hereticals as they haven’t abondoned the church nor do they know the church teachings and that’s why it’s so important to have a catholic voice or two informing them of the truth of the CC.
I do agree with you that any service at those events should happen without catholic participation in the actual ritual they perform.
Also I’ll advice that there are catholic adults present and even better an priest.

One last thing I wonder about is, what kind Christians are we talking about ?
If there are a sect or something far out I would most certainly keep my kids as far away from them as posible.
If there are Lutherans, Baptists or any other mainstream Protestant directions I do not see any big issues as long as you take proper precautions.

(Sorry for my awful English)

  • Yours in Jesus and Mary

What altar are they being called to? (this is not a flippant answer, but a true question)

When I was a Baptist (my mom still is) they had an alter call after almost every service. It is an “invitation” to go to the front of the church and kneel at a railling, or whatever they had. It was done to ask God into our lives and make Jesus our “Persoanl Lord and Savior.” Or it could be that you just felt the need for the support of others. Prayer support especially. I don’t remember how many times I went to this, but it was many times. Each time was because of my spiritual struggles. I think it may have been due to my depression and all that other stuff. But this I do know, it isn’t a “Catholic” thing. If you do feel the call, then go only to a Catholic priest. Someone else may try to talk you into joining their church. Oh, and when I got baptised, it was full immersion.

I wouldn’t, and I’m Lutheran! The sacrament is the altar call.


In my own humble opinion, The Alter Call is essentially an evangelical sacrament, and therefore we should never participate.

I looked up in the Ask An Apologist forum and found these.
*]Are non-denominational Bible studies ok for Catholics?
*]Is it okay to attend a Protestant Bible study?
*]Is it a sin to worship in other Christian churches?

BTW, There is no altar in most n-C buildings and that “altar call” is nothing more than their routine evangelistic effort.

They make them emotional and the whole point is to come forward, pray that “sinners prayer”, and “get saved”. Not a good place for Catholic kids who generally will not understand the vast contrast between that and what the New Testament actually teaches.

Who REALLY Preaches “A Different Gospel”?

Well said, CM. Personally, I see this as a GREAT opportunity to teach the kids beforehand about the Catholic position about salvation. (all sorts of tracts and answers around here on that). It’s also a great opportunity to point out beforehand that there is almost never an altar anywhere in most churches where “altar calls” take place. Teach them WHY that is so.

I would not allow any teen to go to something like this.

Hi all…like many of you, I have always avoided sending my kids to these events. I thank you all for your insight and will pass it on to the advisor who is going on the retreat so she can help the Catholic kids that will be there. God bless.

I would suggest not having them participate, and use this as a time to explain some important points about the Catholic faith.

Explain what the non-Catholics are intending to do with the “altar call” (ie make a formal commitment to Jesus) and then explain how according to Scripture and Tradition Catholics achieve these ends the way Jesus intended through the Sacraments: especially by being Baptized and at Mass by receiving Holy Communion.

In general, the whole evangelical salvation forumla is done in the proper and true way by Catholics each Mass:

Admit you are a sinner: Confiteor/Penitential rite
Make a profession of faith: Apostle’s/Nicene Creed
Accept Jesus into your heart: Holy Communion

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