here I am



We went to church this morning.  My parents’ church recently split when their pastor left, so the remaining members are in the middle of a pastor search.  The interim pastor gave the sermon today and at the end gave an invitation.

It really, really bothers me when preachers ask to have “every head bowed and every eye closed” when they give an invitation.  There was nothing private about what Christ did for us.  If you’re making a statement of belief in Jesus, it should be bold and unapologetic.  Christianity, true Christianity, will change your life dramatically – it’s not a lifestyle to step into half-heartedly, it’s a worldview change, a paradigm shift.  I think it’s inappropriate for a pastor to minimize the gravity of the decision to follow Christ by allowing people to slink into the relationship.  I think it undermines the importance of the commitment and makes the relationship seem like it doesn’t have to be THE priority of your life.

That said,  I think the “close your eyes” approach can be appropriate in youth ministry because kids are so wrapped up in what their friends and peers think of them, but adults should be able to make decisions – especially such important decisions – without basing them in vanity.  If you’re not ready to stand up and stand out for Christ, are you ready to commit to a life in him and for him?

I sound judgemental, and this is something I struggle with – snap decisions about things I hear and see, and the people that say and do them.  I need to think more, but I wanted to post my initial thoughts here so I could hear what some of you think.

So, what do you think?

posted under faith, gripes, life
4 Comments to


  1. Avatar February 25th, 2007 at 10:16 pm Mom A. Says:

    I am a bit hesitant to try to comment, because I know that I will think of more later, or a different angle… so don’t take this as the sum total of my thoughts (which can seem never-ending, given my analytical nature). :)

    First, my heart is warmed to read your passion for Christianity and for being completely sold out to God. On that we can definitely agree!

    Now to the issue of the raised hand. On one hand (pun not really intended) I can see this practice as being somewhat akin to the Catholic confessional, where the priest/pastor is entrusted with the knowledge of one’s sins in a private setting. Perhaps that has its place.

    On the other hand, the Body of Christ is a community where we share each other’s trials and joys. To enter this community (I’m assuming the invitation was for commitment to Christ) in a private, silent way seems to be a bit oxymoronic. One’s decision to enter the community must somehow be made known to that community, in order for full participation and alignment to be acknowledged.

    Then in the middle of the road there is the reality that some folks (even adults – we all have varying degrees of self-confidence) may be on the verge of making a public commitment, but cannot find the courage to do so; yet they may be willing to raise a hand for the pastor and no one else to see. If that leads to a pastoral visit and counseling, commitment to Christ, and then a public testimony so the congregation can fully welcome and integrate the new believer, then perhaps it has served a purpose.

  2. Avatar February 25th, 2007 at 11:22 pm Dave Says:

    I think I agree, Mom… Granted, the “hiddenness” of responding to an invitation privately isn’t the best, but in an ideal situation, someone who responds to Christ in the every-eye-closed setting would eventually make a public profession of faith – maybe when that person is baptized, for instance. For some congregations (and individuals), it should work well that way.

    I think the every-eye-closed thing might have started in much larger evangelistic settings. If one-on-one contact were impractical, an evangelist could blanketly pray for and bless people who were deciding to follow Christ. And maybe to encourage more hands to be raised, he’d have the people close their eyes – after all, how many people on the verge of deciding could be swayed by hearing the evangelist say things like “yes, I see that hand” and “hallelujah, so many hands” and stuff like that? Just a thought.

    In any case, whether or not a new believer professes his or her faith publicly right at that moment of conversion, it’s important to have that kind of statement at the subsequent baptism, whenever that takes place. Baptism is, by design, a public, communal event, one which does about as much good for those in attendance as it does for the one being baptized. (Kind of like weddings… remember your vows, etc.) But baptizing somebody who hasn’t publicly claimed faith in Christ doesn’t make any sense at all…

  3. Avatar February 26th, 2007 at 2:09 am Tara Says:

    Is a “decision” really made if a person can be swayed into making it based on what other people are doing?

  4. Avatar February 26th, 2007 at 9:02 am Dave Says:

    Exactly my point. I don’t think that model is helpful, generally speaking. Jesus has to be shared through relationships, not through anonymous evangelism.

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