Trips to Haiti are up; Trips to the altar are down

Trips to Haiti are up; Trips to the altar are down. --Steve Deneff

So, what do YOU think?


Lawrence W. Wilson said...

I think DeNeff is right. People are far less responsive to attempts at decision-based evangelism or spiritual growth. They are more likely to seek spiritual change through experience.

I would add this corollary to DeNeff's law: Preaching is out; personal testimony is in. Hearing first-person experience is more persuasive today than is rhetoric or even biblical exposition.

Michael Moore said...

I think Deneff is right but for different reasons than Lawrence states. As people we are much more likely do go do something that helps people to prove to ourselves, knowingly or not, that we are "good" people. We would prefer to go and do goo than to sit down and consider our sin. Being confronted with her sin and being told to repent, and THEN go live a life of service in the name of Christ is harder than going to Haiti.

Going to Haiti takes sacrifice, courage, and a good deal of selflessness no doubt. However coming face to face with Jesus and dealing with our sin by falling into his grace takes more.

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Chap said...

My comments are...

Hati trips are up--
Orthopraxy is hip.
Altar trips are down--
Orthodoxy is uncool

Hati trips are up--
The gospel is incarnated in me
Altar trips are down--
The gospel is incarnated in Christ

Hati trips are up--
It is important that my lifestyle is perceived as relevant to those I like to impress in my circle
Altar trips are down--
It is okay if I seem a bit alien to those who live in my circle

Hati trips are up--
"Preach the gospel at all times if necessary, use words."
Francis Assisi is hip
Altar trips are down--
"How can they hear without a preacher"
Apostle Paul is not cool

HoosierDaddy said...

I don't see that big of a difference. In both cases it's about *Me* and *My Experience*. Probably going down the altar is the lesser evil at this time. The professionals in Haiti have enough to do without being tour guides (not to mention if you sent the money you'd spend on plane tickets to a reputable relief organization they could feed the kids you'd get pictures with for a year.

Joel Liechty said...

I would bet that his statement is ahead of the curve. In a culture that seeks to be missional without the blatant message of the cross, he's simply swinging the pendulum back earlier than popular Christian culture would like. Prophetic in a backward and forward sense.

bookworm said...

Interesting questions for me about now. I've recently been reconsidering my views on the subject of practical charity -doing or giving. Trying to decide what/who/how/when, etc.

On the one hand, what did all the trips to the alter produce? Anything real that we can see? Or do we tend to expect the wrong things? For a while I've leaned strongly toward the trip to Haiti/feed the poor type of ministry as a priority for the church. Maybe the "trips to Haiti" are some fruits of the trips to the alter.

Or not. I don't know. There are at least a couple secular "good works" organizations I can think of that started out as Christian ministries. Not the direction we want to go. There are other reasons why I'm doing some re-evaluating; I may be back and forth on the subject before I get it sorted out.

John Mark said...

I think that this is a trend with some history. I have quit having open altar invitations at prayer time. I believed some people came then so as not to have any sense of accountability- or admission of guilt or spiritual need- which is the implication with an end of service invitation.
For a while now I think that altar calls which are focused on something other than decision making have been responded to fairly well. Calls for salvation or consecration have been, in my view, strongly resisted by most. As a friend of mine said once; 'You can feel the whole place tighten down' under close preaching.
If (Rev? Dr?) Wilson is right, what are the implications for preachers such as myself? (Old white guy in a traditional church).
Can experience be a vehicle for spiritual change; and be as effective as a decision making altar response? I don't know. I would love to have someone tackle this, especially if this is "where we are headed" as a movement.
Very thought provoking.

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Anonymous said...

I felt that the "I" factor is a credible one in this discussion. So much so that the major "I" in the equation said, "Depart from me I never knew you."

We can make the trip to either destination and hear those terrifying words. We could instead hear "Well done good and faithful servant."

Where are my head and heart at in either trip?