Questions about when people get "saved"


As a Catholic, I sometimes watch a Protestant megachurch broadcast or some film/ video of a revival meeting, and I see people coming down the aisle to get “saved” up front. Usually this seems to be people who have been leading a sinful life but were moved by the preacher’s exhortations to “come to Jesus” and repent of their sins and amend their life.

I have always wondered about a few things though and maybe a Protestant or someone who knows more about this stuff can answer some questions for me. Sorry if these are dumb questions, I just have not known very many people involved in the religions that do this stuff.

  1. Let’s say Joe Sinner gets “saved” at the megachurch meeting. What happens after that? Does he just go off to work on his internal resolution to be good from now on or is he supposed to take some additional steps like join a particular church, contact some outreach person, etc.
    Is getting “saved” a commitment to join or believe in a particular faith (e.g. the one that the preacher espouses) or does it just mean you’re putting yourself in the hands of Jesus and letting him wash away your sin and committing to sin no more?

  2. Do people normally only come down the aisle and get “saved” once? Or do some make a regular practice of doing it frequently to show their commitment? Is there some unspoken etiquette to this, like you’re only supposed to come get “saved” if you are in a state of sin, or have never gotten “saved” before? Or do people just feel free to come down and get “saved” if they feel moved by the spirit to do it, regardless of whether they got saved five times at the last five meetings?


From what I understand and have seen, the Megachurches have people on standby to interact with those who have come forward. How they follow-up with them is something I don’t know about. When Billy Graham had his crusades there were representatives from area churches that the people who had gone forward would be taken to - one instance I heard about a person who grew up in a Catholic church was taken to a group that was there from a local parish.

I know when I was a kid I went forward in a Baptist church but there was no follow-up done. I did it out of guilt and terror of going to hell. I never got baptized until I was an adult and I was received into the Lutheran Church.


Post withdrawn. …


You are asking good questions. I can see how someone not familiar with these meetings would echo your questions. It has been years since I have been at one of these meetings however I think I can answer some of your queries.

While undoubtedly some evangelists would use this method as a way to proselytize most would have follow-up people ready to help guide converts to a church that he or she may have some familiarity with. As has been mentioned a person raised Catholic may be steered toward someone ready from the local parish.

When someone has felt the call of the Holy Spirit in one of these meetings they are encouraged to come forward and by doing so confess Jesus publically. When one comes to Christ for the first time the Bible tells us he made a new creature. He then needs lots of encouragement and guidance as he starts his new walk. For someone who goes forward every meeting as you posed does not mean they get “saved” each time but rather that they may want to renew their commitment. Dare I compare it to going to confession in a sense?

I like to imagine how it worked at Pentecost when Peter exhorted people to repent and be baptized. If 3000 were added to the group of believers that day there must of been some action take place to identify them.


There is no way of singularly answering the question because there is no such thing as one protestant church or one megachurch being identical to another, not even if they necessarily belong to the same denomination or group of churches. You need to remember that protestant/evangelical Christianity is not hierarchical or apostolic.

Sometimes they go up if they want to recommit. Sometimes only if they want to be baptized for the first time. Sometimes a combination. It all depends. In my original church, which was a Church of Christ, people were baptized once they decided to be baptized (I was 11) and then people could also speak to the pastor about publicly recommitting themselves.

In my experience, most non-Catholic Christians intuitively grasp the idea that becoming saved involves a lifestyle change. Bible studies, youth groups, and other bonds of fellowship are very common.


Before i found the Catholic Church i said the “sinners prayer” at least 20 times in different denominations but i could never understand why my life wouldnt change…and i truly truly meant. Ive always known Jesus was God and ive loved him. It wasnt untill i learned about sin and its effects/with the power of the Sacraments did anything change.

Thats why when i went to a retreat that was falsely advertised as a theology type retreat an old parish offered…it turned out to be a literral charismatic protestant service to recieve the Holy Spirit and fall down type of deal as if they didnt believe in the Sacrament of Confirmation…even having us EAT lunch in front of a monstrance to be eat with Jesus…i ended up leaving early and never went back to that parish…it was just sooooo strange and disappointing.

Turns out theyve had that same retreat in most parishes where i live.


In theory it’s a public way of committing to follow Christ and being transformed. In practice, I think that’s common for them to hold views shared with the preacher if the person goes through with follow ups.

I don’t like the practice to be honest. It’s not great with introverts.


Got it but it is rather misleading from a Catholic point of view where ‘saved’ generally means in heaven or guaranteed it. Thus it can only be unequivocally known after death.


It’s true that it’s not the Catholic understanding, but several Protestant faiths seem to teach that people on earth get some assurance they are saved by accepting Jesus as their personal savior or by just living a decent life as a church member. My husband’s Protestant faith is not evangelical at all, but they don’t pray for their dead and just assume that any good church members or even people leading a generally good/ responsible life automatically go to heaven.


Please put it back up. It was spot on.

Like you, I went forward when they gave the altar call in the (Southern) Baptist church I was attending. The pastor, who later went on to become the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, had given a sermon on Legion but kept calling Legion “Lazarus.”

He got all worked up and got the fear of going to Hell in me. So I went up and got “saved” and then went through 4 weeks of baptism classes and got baptized in that church. I am ashamed to say that due to my young age, he convinced me that my infant baptism in the Catholic Church didn’t count and that I had to be baptized “the right way.”


Just to clarify, I am not planning on running down and doing an altar call to compensate for anything lacking in my RC Baptism, or planning to leave the Church, etc, and my views on whether I am “saved” are

  • in the sense of my accepting Jesus Christ as my “personal savior”, I did that eons ago, probably when I was a wee child. Let’s just say I have never thought of any savior other than Him and we do have an extremely personal relationship

  • In the sense of my feeling assured I am going to heaven, I trust in God’s mercy and I also would echo St Joan of Arc in saying if I am in God’s grace I pray He keeps me there and if I’m not in God’s grace I pray He puts me there. I’m doing what I can on my end to try to make heaven happen for me and all my loved ones.

I have a curiosity about many other religions just because I am interested. I probably got it from my dad who studied Hebrew Life and Literature as his required religion elective at his Wesleyan college even though he had been raised sporadically Baptist and Methodist and had absolutely no thought of converting over to Judaism.

edited to add, I’d be happy to do an “altar call” any time anywhere if it was just a matter of me re-confirming my commitment to Jesus Christ and not me making a commitment to attend the Pentecostal Church. I pretty much make my own “altar call” every time I kneel down and pray the Jesus Prayer.


I appreciate your testimony, it speaks to me.


I grew up in this kind of tradition - in fact my family visited many denominations of this sort over the course of my childhood to “minister” as singers, so this is my experience.


Thanks, but I took it down because I felt like it had the potential to derail the thread into another us vs. them circus. This has been a good discussion and I didn’t want to wreck it.


I understand that feeling.


More often than not he will be assigned someone to council him and walk him through the infant stages of becoming a follower of Christ. If he is affiliated with another local church (regardless of denomination) the person who councils him at the service will contact the church he is affiliated with for further counseling. Most larger evangelical churches have a new believers class that instructs the new believer about basic Christian doctrine and how to participate in the local church.

Getting “saved” means you have been convicted of your sinful state and that you have trusted in Christ for your salvation. It also means that the person makes it a point to follow Christ in how they live their life. Most would understand being “saved” as being different from being Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian. Most of us say we are a Christian (saved person) who attends a Baptist church or a Christian who attends a Methodist Church.

It is kinda hard to explain. Getting saved is a one time event (just like being born), but it is also an ongoing process by which the Holy Spirit works in our life. At most evangelical services those who have been “saved” are asked to examine their life to see if they have fallen into sin and to repent. Sometimes, if the person is so moved, this includes coming forward and praying/confessing to the pastor and asking for prayer. I’ve even seen people be so convicted by the Holy Spirit that they ask to speak to the congregation and confess sins publicly in front of the entire congregation. That is not the norm but it does happen. I’m sure it varies from place to place and the traditions/culture of the local church.


I see. So I could be a “saved person who attends a Catholic church” then, as of now, since I accepted Jesus as my personal savior a really long time ago (no altar call though)?


Yes, and contrary to popular belief, most evangelicals don’t “get saved” at an alter call. Most “get saved” from the witness and discussion with a friend or family member. They may make their faith public at an alter call but, from my experience at least, most of the heavy lifting has been done by one on one counseling.


That’s good to know. When evangelicals would ask me if I was “saved” I would always say yes, and I didn’t feel I was lying at all, but I wouldn’t want to be misleading them. It sounds like I wasn’t misleading them though.


I just remember Tim Staples joke about “there’s more Baptists in Texas than there are Texans” … meaning that though a person is to do an “altar call” just once, they end up going more than once and each one is recorded as a member of the congregation.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit