Tag Archives: altar time

Altar Time Tips

If your church is big on doing altar times where people come to the front to pray, worship and be prayed for, then chances are your children’s ministry is too. Even if they’re not a regular occurrence, at Kids Camp usually they are. For some of us knowing what to do, say or pray can be a little unnerving. And even if we’re comfortable in the setting, that doesn’t mean our volunteers or youth helpers are.

As someone who started as a nervous, less than eager,  altar time participant myself… here are some things I’ve picked up that may help you, or help those you are training.

Kids will come forward for anything

If you play the right music, dim the lights and say the right words you could have an altar call for kids to ask the Easter Bunny in their hearts and you’d still get a good turn out. I mean, who wouldn’t want the Easter Bunny!! Silly, yes… but important. Important because I truly believe that an altar call is all but useless to those who don’t understand what they’re doing. Some could say it’s good practice… but I disagree. I think that’s most of the troubles we have with our kids and spirituality. It’s rehearsed, practiced. They’ve learned how to look like it’s doing what we want it to do for them… and some of them keep up the act till they turn (if they last that long) 18… then they’re gone. That being said…

Most of the kids who come down have a real purpose

There are a lot of tears at a good altar call. Some kids may come down because they’re doing what is expected… but there are a good bunch who come down because they want something from God. They have a purpose for being there… but it may not be the purpose you made the call for.

It’s important to find out why they’re there

I always ask a kid why they came down. If they don’t know, I pray with them and usually direct them back to their seat. It’s not time for them yet. When they do know, and let me know, it helps me pray for them. Yes, God knows… and it doesn’t matter if I know or not… but I believe that in that situation we’re God’s hands and we can be his Voice. I remember loving it when an adult who knew me and my situation would pray specifically for me. On the other hand I can say that I wasn’t thrilled about being prayed over (and breathed on) by the ‘guy who prays for everyone’ dude. More importantly than me knowing… it’s important for them to know. It helps them focus their mind so they can focus on what they need from God.

Find out why they’re crying

If you’ve got a little girl who’s bawling her eyes out… it can be tough to know if they’re being blessed, if they’re missing momma, or if they’re reliving some horrible tragedy from their past. So when I see that child, I always make a point to go to them and ask a simple question, “Happy cry or Sad cry?” If they say ‘happy’ then I just praise God with them. If they say ‘sad’ then it’s time to help them talk it through. Altar times are great… but they can tear the Band-Aid off a broken heart quicker than anything… and we’ve got to be discerning enough to not walk past a child who is broken and assume they’re being blessed.

Thank God… It’s not about us

It can be a little daunting to be there for a hurting child… knowing what to say or not say. Am I talking to much… not enough? Do I have to have all the answers? Can I mess up in a way that will make this child worse? I’ll say it again… Thank God it’s not about us. I believe this… if our hearts are dead set on pleasing God and helping kids… just pure Godly intentionality… it’s going to be hard to mess up. I’ve found that kids aren’t looking for the perfect answer anyway… they’re looking for someone to talk to. They just want to get it out. They want to hear that God knows… and loves them… and WILL help them. Most of the issues I pray with kids about revolve around family issues. When the situation is bad enough… I just remind them that though they have no control over their current family life… they have every bit of control in the world over they family they choose for their own kids. You can give purpose to their pain if you help them to learn from other’s mistakes instead of repeating them.

Don’t be afraid to reel in a weird-o

You know who I’m talking about. That one guy or gal who just loves to wale and spit and spew and shake your kids till they ‘get the spirit’ or fall over. They have the best intentions (most of the time) but they often can get over zealous and actually do more harm than good. I can’t tell you how many teens I’ve talked to who have left the church because one of these guys got a hold of them. Putting a stop to such things takes guts… and it’s embarrassing for both parties… but it’s the right and responsible thing to do. Better to hurt the feelings of an adult (and in the process, disciple them) than to turn a child off to the things of God forever. I do not believe that spiritual people lose control of their own actions.

The time your children spend with their God is powerful and needs to be protected and shepherded. I hope this article has been a help. If so, or if you have any tips you’ve picked up that will help our readers… post them in the comments.