Latest Blog Posts

Elizabeth Warren’s List of 11 Progressive Values Worth Fighting For

elizabeth warren quote

Over the weekend, Congresswoman Elizabeth Warren was the keynote speaker at the Netroots Nation convention held in Detroit, Michigan. Warren stated “we have to talk about what does it mean to be a progressive, an American.” She then listed 11 progressive values that are worth fighting for:

  • “We believe Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.
  • “We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth, and we’re willing to fight for it.
  • “We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.
  • “We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe — and I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014 — we believe in equal pay for equal work, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America, and we will fight for it.
  • “We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform, and we will fight for it.
  • “And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!

Here are several notable quotes from Warren’s speech:

“We can’t win what we won’t fight for and it will be a hard fight. Many profitable companies look for every way they can to improve profits and bonuses, but many of them have another plan. They use their money and they try to influence Washington. Those with power fight to make sure every rule tilts in their favor. That’s what we are up against. That’s what America is up against,”

“For big corporations, trade negotiations are like Christmas morning. They get gifts they could never get through Congress. These meetings are held in secret so giant corporations can make deals and get inside information while regulations are gutted.”

“Lobbyists and lawyers have plenty of friends in congress. We can whine about it, or we can fight back. I’m fighting back! This is a fight over economics, privilege, and power. But deep down it’s a fight over values.”

Published: July 22, 2014 | Comments: 2

Steve Sanchez Thinks He has a Right to Harrass People for Jesus

woman steve sanchez harrassed at walmart

Cell phone picture taken by Steve Sanchez of a worker at Walmart he was embarrassing.

Steve Sanchez is a fundamentalist Christian who thinks he has the right to witness, evangelize, proselytize, and preach to anyone, anywhere, at any time. Even worse, Sanchez thinks he has the right to photograph those he is harassing. In a May 2014 post titled Witnessing to the Walmart Witch, Sanchez writes:

Courtney, the Walmart customer service lady, (looking down), kept answering “Summerland” when I asked if she’d go to Heaven or Hell when she died.

Heaven or Hell?”


The only two choices I’m giving you are Heaven or Hell.”

“Summerland. I’m a Wiccan,” she declared.

Since she wouldn’t answer I had to go to Plan B: I  preached a one minute Gospel to her so she’d understand there is no Summerland, only Hell, because of her idolatry.

What did she do? Thanked me over and over again to get me to go away. “Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Thank you very much.”

Yet I didn’t go away until she heard fully the full Gospel, thank you very much.

A co-worker walked behind her and gave me a Thumb’s Up.

Another co-worker, a Muslim, in full head covering, began her shift. I resisted giving her the Good News because too many people were lining up at the counter.

I know my limits.

The next day I received this comment on Facebook from an atheist: “I don’t understand why you bible thumpers just cant leave us the f*@k alone, funny how we, who choose alternative ideas, don’t push our thoughts/ideas on to you bible thumpers but you think its ok to bombard us with your thoughts and ideas.”

Here was my response: “I would have to be the most hateful person in the world to NOT share the Gospel with Courtney, or you for that matter. If I didn’t share, I would be overlooking the fact of your horrible future reality. So no. As a Bible Thumper, I love you too much not to speak.”

You see, the Steve Sanchez’s of the world think that they are demonstrating love when they badger and harass people who have no interest in what they are selling. They are a special class of people who are not bound by the same social conventions as the rest of us. Treating others with decency and respect doesn’t apply to Steve Sanchez. He is willing to be an asshole for Jesus because his right to evangelize and preach supersedes any person’s right to personal space, even at work.

Courtney, the Walmart customer service worker should have called for the store manager and asked him to stop Sanchez’s gospel bullying. Walmart is a private business and Sanchez has no constitutional right to to witness, evangelize, proselytize, or preach  to Walmart employees or customers. He is free to peddle his delusion on the public sidewalk in front of the Walmart, but once he walks or drives on Walmart property, he no longer has the right to say whatever he wants.

If Walmart does not have a policy in place to deal with people like Steve Sanchez then they need to implement one immediately. If they fail to do so, they run the risk of being sued by harassed workers like Courtney. Walmart has a legal obligation to provide their workers with a workplace free from egregious religious harassment.

If you would like to send Walmart and email about this, please go here. If you send Walmart an email, please mention this blog post. Also, you will need to choose a Walmart store. Search for stores in Dripping Springs, Texas and choose the first store. (it is in Austin)

Let me conclude this post with several graphics Sanchez posted as justification for his harassment of Courtney:

just keep it to yourself

just keep it to yourself


Steve Sanchez is starting a new church in Dripping Springs, Texas called Hope Chapel Hill Country. I wonder how Sanchez would like it if atheists showed up at his church and disrupted him while he was working. I suspect he would quickly call on the police to remove the atheists, arguing that they were keeping him from preaching and worshiping God.

Published: July 22, 2014 | Comments: 0

The Anti-Christ’s Brother is Revealed: His Name is Anti-Pastor

fake church sign for anti pastor

A recent commenter by the name of Susan stopped by to let me know that I was a “hater.” She had this to say on the post Fundamentalist Christian Gnats:

I feel very sad for you and everyone who chooses to agree with your hatred…I know…you’ll say that I’m the “hater” or gnat or what have you…sad

I responded:

What in this post even remotely suggests I was being hateful? I responded in a slightly snarky way to fundamentalist Christians that threaten to slit my throat and who take great delight in deconstructing and attacking every aspect of my life, and I am the one that is a hater and those who see these things for what they are are haters too?

I have no idea if you are a hater. I suspect you are based on the blogs you list on your blogroll, but until you give me reason to think so, I am withholding judgment, a practice you might want to consider implementing in your own life.

A short while ago, Susan decided to write a blog post about me. She’s decided to crown me the Anti-Pastor.  Here’s what she had to say:

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.   2 John 2:18 (ESV)

I have heard that it happens from time to time, a pastor struggles with his faith…and gives up the struggle. Recently I stumbled onto the website of such a former pastor. God only knows if he truly was saved and if he was (I personally doubt it myself) the Lord will retrieve Him in His time. As of this time this ex-pastor not only says he has given up on Christianity, he also feels it his duty to anti-evangelize the flock. He goes about seeking whom he can “assist” in getting others to give up their faith just as he did. That is why I’ve christened him the anti-pastor. He doesn’t think it is enough to blaspheme God by saying He doesn’t exist, he also feels the need to yank people out of the fold. Yeah, that’s right…I truly thought I had seen it all. Is there no limit to the hurt the devil will inflict on Jesus? It seems not, however there is a limit. One day people like the anti-pastor will come to the end of the time the Lord will give to their foolishness which inflicts pain on others. He will limit it in such a way that the only pain they will inflict is on themselves for ever and ever. God in His mercy is still giving him time to repent (otherwise he would have passed from this life into his eternal fate) so I hope he will “get true wisdom” and learn truly of Christ instead of getting his learning from the spirit of antichrist. God only knows how much more time the anti-pastor has left on earth to turn around and repent of the error of his ways.

I’m not going to post a link to this man’s website because the teachings of this man are ugly to say the least. If anyone is interested in doing research into these ridiculous goings on I’ll make it available upon request with a warning to cover yourself in prayer before inflicting such ugliness on yourself. For most of us it is enough to be aware that he’s out there, and the Lord is allowing him to do his worst damage for a while, until He says “Enough!”, and then it will be too late for the anti-pastor. Let’s hope for him he wises up before it is too late for him.

By quoting 2 John 2:18, Susan wants to make a clear connection between the anti-Christ in the Bible and Bruce Gerencser, the anti-pastor. I am honored to be considered in the same league as one of the most famous people in the Christian Bible. My brother Anti-Christ and I have the same father, the Devil, so I am somewhat surprised that it took 57 years for someone to make this connection.

Let me summarize what Susan has concluded about me:

Only God knows if I was ever truly saved but she doesn’t think I was.

So if God only knows, why is she venturing an opinion on the state of my soul? The truth is, she is pretty certain that I was never a Christian.

My goal is life is to evangelize Christians and cause them to lose their faith.

What does this say about God, Jesus, and Christianity if one lowly Evangelical pastor turned atheist can cause someone to lose their faith?  I have stated many times before and I will state it again, my goal is not to turn people into atheists. I am a facilitator. I try to help people who are considering leaving Christianity or who have already left Christianity. Susan will look in vain for ONE person to testify that I tried to evangelize them out of their faith.

Susan spends most of her post threatening me, a blasphemer,  with God, judgment, and hell I don’t think exists.

According to Susan, the only reason I am not dead already is because God is giving me time to repent. I am not sure how she knows this? I wish Christians would make up their mind about what I actually am. One says I am a reprobate, another says God is giving me time to repent. One says I am taken over by Satan, another says I am a Christian that God is fixing to chastise. Please make up your mind people. Am I saved, am I lost? Am I in or am I out? If I am in, please turn the air conditioning on in my mansion. I am coming home sooner rather than later.

Susan doesn’t want to link to The Way Forward. I will assume she wants to avoid putting tender, impressionable souls in harm’s way. Evidently, I am one bad man, yet she tells her readers that it is the Lord himself that is allowing me to write all the horrible, blasphemous things I write on a daily basis. I guess I should stop typing for a moment and say thank you Jesus!

She warns those who dare to come in to my evil lair of iniquity, photography, decadence, and baseball, that they better be prayed up. Evidently, if a person is not prayed up they risk me snatching their Christianity right out of them.

Susan sees me as the enemy and I certainly understand why. I stand in opposition to her fundamentalist Christian beliefs. I suppose I might have responded to Bruce Gerencser, the atheist the same way when I was Bruce Gerencser, the pastor.

Here’s what Susan is missing. I am a loving, kind, decent human being, married to a wonderful heathen woman for 36 years. We have six children and nine, soon to be ten, grandchildren. We are happy, satisfied, and content as a cat getting a squirt of milk from a cow’s teat. Life is good. Susan never saw me as a person because all she saw was someone whom she determined was a hater of God.

Lost on her is the fact that I think it is foolish to hate fictional beings. Saying I hate God is like me saying I hate Santa Claus or the elf that lives in our maple tree. I hate real things, things like war, violence, political and religious oppression, and the St Louis Cardinals. My hatred of fundamentalism stems from the mental and emotional abuse done in the name of fundamentalist’s God. I hate the fruit of fundamentalism not the belief system. If I can get someone to look at the belief system then perhaps I can help end the abuse.

Susan and I agree on one thing, she hopes I find true wisdom. Unfortunately, she can not comprehend me leaving Christianity to find it.  A seeker of true wisdom is willing to travel wherever wisdom can be found. For Susan, the quest for wisdom begins and ends with the Christian God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and an inspired, inerrant text. For me, all I see ahead is open road.

I do hope that Susan will come back and actually have a conversation with me.



Published: July 22, 2014 | Comments: 26

Baseball is for Girls Too

Yesterday, I attended the game between the Louisville Bats and the Toledo Mud Hens with three of my sons and my grandson. The Bats lost again, but I had a wonderful time out with the boys.

Every time I attend a minor league baseball game, the railing near the dugouts are packed with people trying to get autographs from the players. Most of the young people seeking autographs are boys. Here’s a picture I took of a young Louisville fan that is a reminder that baseball is a girl’s game too.

baseball is a girls game too

After the game, we stopped to eat  at Panera Bread. As we entered the restaurant, I saw the manager glance at us with THAT face. You know, the face that says, really, at 20 minutes to closing you want something to eat? I have been there. I used to manage restaurants, so I know how frustrating it is to get everything cleaned up only to have to prepare food for a few last-minute customers. I always tried to remember that I was in the business to make money and the customer came first. Smile, be polite, and wait on the customer.

Fortunately, the girl who took our order was the exact opposite of her manager. She was a talk-a-tive, happy young adult. When she saw our Cincinnati Reds hats she started talking baseball with me. She told me that baseball was her favorite sport. She seemed quite conversant in all things baseball. I laughed and said, where were you when I started dating girls 40 years ago? She laughed.

This delightful young woman was a reminder to me that girls love baseball too.


Published: July 21, 2014 | Comments: 2

One Passage of Scripture My Critics Always Ignore

2 timothy 3

The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Most of my fundamentalist Christian critics likely think that this passage from the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God accurately describes the Evangelical Christian pastor turned atheist Bruce Gerencser. This text is meant to be descriptive of certain people alive during the Last Days. Since most fundamentalist Christians think that we are, at this present moment, living in the Last Days, this means that 2 Timothy 3:1-5 is describing people who are presently alive. Ergo, Bruce Gerencser.

What they seem to always miss is that verse five contains a command, from such turn away. Or as the English Standard Version (ESV) says, AVOID SUCH PEOPLE!

When fundamentalist Christians comment on this blog they are disobeying the clear, unambiguous teaching of the inspired, inerrant, infallible Word of God. Not only do they ignore what Paul wrote to young Timothy, they go out of their way to engage, attack, and disrupt. (i.e. like the person who spent the last 24 hours hammering the login page with attempts to log into this blog’s admin page. Over 6,000 attempts) Avoid means stay away from. Seems to me that a number of fundamentalist Christians are doing everything BUT staying away from me.  In fact, I could argue that they are actually the most effective tool I know for drawing people away from their version of Christianity. Keep up the good work!

As I have stated many times over the years, while they may make me the target, the real reason for what they do is their need to be right. They need to feel “right” and what better way to feel right than going after an Evangelical pastor turned atheist. They think if they slay the dragon that this means their beliefs are true. In doing so, they not only ignore the command in 2 Timothy 3:5 but they also reveal who they really are. The Bible says in Galatians 5:

But if ye be led of the Spirit…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

I smell an awful lot of rotting fruit.

Published: July 21, 2014 | Comments: 2

Bruce the Cult Leader

bruce cult leader

Bruce Gerencser, Cult Leader, Deluding the Masses and Leading Them Straight to a Hell That Does Not Exist.

One of the more hilarious bits of gossip floating around on the internet is that I am a cult leader.

Yes, a cult leader.

The thinking goes like this….

I used to be a devoted, card-carrying member of the Christian cult. I was well-respected and I had lots of followers who loved to listen to my Holy Spirit inspired sermons.

But something happened. Many of the conspiracy theorists think that I have been taken over by Satan. They simply can not believe that I would willingly leave Christianity, leave the ministry, and become a godless atheist.

The only possible  answer to my current state of living is that Satan has gotten a hold of my heart and I have become a puppet for the god of this world.

Most everything I write on this blog PROVES that I am indeed working for Satan.  Besides, I am a liberal, socialistic, pacifistic, Democrat. Everyone knows that God is a war-loving, capitalistic Republican.

They are quite certain that Satan is using me to draw people away from Christianity. I have become an enemy of the Christian God. (because, according to them there is only ONE God) They think I have ulterior motives, that I am out to build a vast internet network of former Christians who will do my bidding.  I am the head cheese, the guru of gurus, the chief, the boss, the leader. How else can one explain all these people who read The Way Forward? (a readership that continues to climb as my message reaches the masses)

Here is the silly part, well the biggest silly part.

This requires you, the readers of this blog, to be mindless, brain-dead  Big Time wrestling fans.

Most of the readers of this blog are former Christians, doubting Christians, or Christians who are transitioning to a more liberal form of Christianity. The one thing many readers have in common with each other is that they have been negatively affected by fundamentalist religion.

Many people consider the The Way Forward a safe haven, a place where they can be open and honest about their struggles with religion. No judgments here. I am happy if you are happy.  Wherever your journey takes you is fine with me. Whether you end up with God, no God,another God, or a god of your own making, I am happy for you as long as you have walked the road of your life with honesty and integrity.

For most of us, when we finally decided to break with our fundamentalist past, we gathered up our brains at the door, the same door where we had left our brains many years ago. Fundamentalism does not encourage out of the box thinking. They expect, even demand conformity . One size fits all, Jesus is the answer to everything. Fundamentalism discourages rational, complex thinking, contrary to what some “deep” thinking fundamentalist Calvinists might think.

Once we reengage our minds we are off to the races.  A wild, wonderful world is waiting for us. No longer boxed in, no longer held fast by the cords of fundamentalism, we are free to think, question, and decide based on fact rather than dogma. It is a scary life, but a life I would not trade  for the largest church in America. (once one of by biggest desires)

Look, I am bit narcissistic, as all Americans are. I like the fact that the readership of this blog increases every week.  It is a real  mental boost for me to know that people not only read what I write but also profit from it. Every writer wants their writing to be read by others.

But………….Bruce, a cult leader?




Many of the readers of this blog were already on their way of out religion when our paths crossed. I may give a voice to the burden they carry or I may preach a godless sermon that bears witness to the common struggle we have, but they are not followers of me. In fact, to suggest they are is offensive, not only to them, but to me.

We are free agents. Free to think as we wish. Free to believe or not believe. Free. Free. Free.  For many of us we shouted FREEDOM when we finally escaped the mind-numbing grasp of fundamentalist religion. Do the conspiracy theorists really believe that we will ever pledge ourselves to ANY human leader (or god for that matter) ever again?  Not a chance.

I am not a cult leader and I am quite certain that the readers of this blog are not cult followers who have been duped by a Satan inspired 57-year-old  fat, balding, redheaded man. These days I can’t even get my wife to follow or obey me.  Once she found out those verses in the Bible that said to her submit and obey were no longer applicable…well let’s just say…she is likes her freedom.

Published: July 21, 2014 | Comments: 32

Explaining the Unexplainable

god did it

Things happen that defy explanation.

I spent a good part of my life within a religious structure that took great pains to explain the unexplainable.

No matter the issue or the circumstance that couldn’t be explained, the answer was always the same.


God did it.

To God be the glory.

Usually, the God did it answer was reserved for unexplainable things that were perceived as good.

Bad things?

God was never held accountable for what was perceived as bad.

Sometimes God would be given credit with a disclaimer. God was testing us, trying us, or punishing us.

Usually bad things were attributed to the Devil, to the flesh, to sin.

Every unexplainable thing that happened was explained.

To God be the glory great things he hath done, the old hymn says.

God is sovereign.

God is in control.

God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent.

In simple words God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present.


Pray. Pray. Pray.

Then out of nowhere an unexplainable answer comes.


As I reflect on 50 years spent thinking God was the answer to every question, I am forced to ask myself “how many of those God sighting in my life were just human sightings or Bruce sightings?”

I can count on one hand the things I have experienced in life that have no explanation.

Everything else that I attributed to God can just as easily be attributed to self or another human being.

I prayed for countless numbers of people who were sick, dying, mentally afflicted or bankrupt. I can not point to one prayer over 50 years where I can honestly say “there is no human explanation for what happened.”

All of the dying people I prayed for died.

All the prayers in the world didn’t keep my wife and I from going bankrupt.

All the prayers in the world didn’t keep me from debilitating illness.

Either I was a bad prayer-er or their was something amiss in the whole “let go, let God” kind of praying.

I prayed every day for 35 years.

I read my Bible almost every day too, reading through the Good Book dozens of time.

I witnessed, preached on street corners, and preached almost 5,000 sermons.

I worked for a pittance of money, believing that my self-sacrifice was pleasing to God.

I sincerely committed my heart, soul, and mind to following Jesus.

Yet, God was silent.

Oh, I attributed many things to the hand of God, the voice of God, the leading of the Holy Spirit.

All lies.

Well intentioned lies, but lies nonetheless.

I really thought God filled my mouth with the words to say when I preached.

But I always wondered, if the Bible is the Words of God why not just read the Bible to people? Wouldn’t it be better if people heard directly from God without an intermediary?

I pastored a lot of people who had unexplainable things happen to them.

The answers were always the same.



The flesh.

I have come to see that most things in life, even the surprising things, can be attributed to  human volition.

And those, count on one hand, things I can find no explanation for?

They are just that, unexplainable.

God never enters the equation.

I have no desire to rob anyone of their God.

I know the power of having God as the answer to the great questions of life.

It is comforting.

If God is always on the job there is no need to lose any sleep over what may come our way.

But for me…

Life happens.

Shit happens.

Unexplainable things happen.

Life is what it is.

Let me finish this post with quote from Ecclesiastes.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Published: July 21, 2014 | Comments: 1

Walking the Aisle: A Few Thoughts on Altar Calls

altar call

Every head bowed, every eye closed.

Is God is speaking to you right now?

What is it God wants you to do?

Do you need to be saved? Step out from where you and come kneel at the altar. Cry out to God. He will save you. Don’t delay. NOW is the day of salvation.

Do you need to get right with God? Don’t delay. Don’t wait to another day. Step out from where you are and come kneel at an old-fashioned altar and do business with God.

Whatever it is God wants you to do, do it today.

As we sing the first verse of Just As I Am ,you come. Don’t wait. You don’t have the promise of tomorrow.


Over the course of 25 years in the ministry, I gave countless public invitations like the one above. The emphasis might have differed from week to week, but the focus was always on NOW, doing what God wants you to do NOW. Behold, NOW is the accepted time, NOW is the day of salvation, the Bible says.

Sometimes I would tell poignant illustrations that I hoped would drive home the importance of making a decision. My philosophy was clear:

  • There is a God
  • The Bible is truth
  • God hates sin
  • Salvation is through the merit and work of Jesus Christ
  • There is a hell to shun and a heaven to gain
  • No one has the promise of tomorrow
  • Death is certain
  • Decisions affecting our eternal destiny should never be put off

The invitation was the point in the service where I (God) brought everything together. It was the climax, the point where God showed his mighty power by saving sinners and calling backsliders back to the faith.

Thousands of people responded to altar calls given by me. I was pretty good at it. Generally, I knew what to say. I could read the emotions of those under the sound of my voice, and with a few well placed words, get them to walk the aisle for Jesus. What we called conviction back then is what I now call guilt.  When a person feels guilty (under conviction) they are ripe for manipulation.

In one church I pastored for 11 years, we had over 600 public professions of faith. We baptized hundreds of people. Rare was the Sunday when no one came forward during the invitation. (For many years I gave invitations every time we had a service)

On those rare weeks when no one stepped out for Jesus, I was often quite depressed. I thought, why didn’t anyone come forward? Maybe my sermon was poorly constructed or perhaps God was punishing me because of some unconfessed sin in my life? ( in other words, God might send someone to hell to get my attention)

The number of people responding to the invitation, like the number of people attending the church, are measures that pastors use to judge themselves a success or failure. Church members judge the success or failure of their pastor based on his success in getting people to walk the aisle and profess faith in Christ. They also judge him based on the numeric growth of the church. In many ways, the church is no different from the corporate world where businesses are judged a success or a failure based on economic output. (stock price, revenue increase, bottom line profit)

Every church I ever pastored grew numerically. I was good for business. I knew I had good preaching skills. I knew I had “people” skills that helped me reach people with the gospel. I expected results. I expected God to work. I expected people to walk the aisle and do business with God. My modality in the church was similar to how I conducted myself in the business world. Over the years, I managed restaurants for Arthur Teachers, Long John Silvers, and Charley’s Steakery. (along with other management level jobs) As a general manager I was driven to succeed. Success was measured by profit. ( a secular version of souls saved, church attendance growth)

Toward the latter third of my time in the ministry I came to see that the altar call was a tool used by pastors to manipulate emotions and give the illusion that God’s power was on them and that God was using them. I have no doubt that many pastors believe their own hype, I know I did. I came to see myself as a man used greatly by God. The proof was in the numbers.

When I stopped giving altar calls many people responded negatively and a few people left the church. In their minds, an old-fashioned, bible believing church has altar calls. People should have an opportunity to respond to the sermon and respond to the Holy Ghost’s leading.

One former friend , a pastor, told me that he personally would never attend a church that didn’t give altar calls. Never mind that there is not one instance of an altar call in the Bible. Never mind that the history of the altar call can be traced back to Pelagian Charles Finney. In my friend’s mind, a good church was a church that gave altar calls. A church without altar calls was a liberal church that didn’t love souls. (and a good case can be made for liberal/progressive churches, along with Calvinistic churches, being quite indifferent to the spiritual condition of others)

In the 1960’s, evangelists like Billy Graham popularized the altar call and brought it to the TV screen. Many of us remember seeing a Billy Graham Crusade on network TV. Who can forget the altar call, hundreds of people pouring down the aisles making their way to the front. What most people did not know is that MANY of the people responding to the invitation were actually Christian altar workers. They helped “prime the pump” , with their movement forward encouraging others to do the same. If you take the first step God will help you take the rest

When we are part of a group there is pressure to conform to the group standard. This dynamic is quite evident in church. Individuality is discouraged. Dissent is frowned upon. I see the same problem in the secular world. Most human beings don’t want to stand out from the crowd so they tend to embrace whatever the group standard is. Personally, I try to fight such conformity. I will gladly sing the National Anthem and recite most of the Pledge of Allegiance but I will be damned if I will bow my head and take off my hat in an act of worship as some knucklehead prays for God to bless the race car drivers or sings God bless America during the 7th inning stretch. That said, I have no doubt I succumb to the group standard more than I care to admit.

Group conformity is not necessarily bad, but we must be careful we do not surrender our ability to reason and think for ourselves. The pressure to conform to a group standard in church often sucks the life, vitality, and joy from a person’s life. When the pastor gives an invitation and scores of people respond, the pressure to do likewise is very strong. Being right with God=walking the aisle. Standing in the pew and not walking the aisle=Not right with God.

mourners bench

Many years ago I attended a Sword of the Lord Conference in the Canton, Ohio area. Curtis Hutson was one of the main speakers, along with Jack Hyles. Hutson preached on the family, on fatherhood. At the close of his sermon he gave an altar call that basically said “if you want to be a better father, you need to come to the altar and profess your willingness to do so.” Hundreds and hundreds of men responded. I didn’t. I thought Hutson was being quite manipulative so I refused to walk the aisle. Of course, I stood out like a sore thumb. People thought ,I am sure, Either that guy thinks he is a better Christian than the rest of us or he refuses to get right with God.Who doesn’t want to be a better father? Never mind the fact that one prayer at the altar does not a good father make.

Pastors well schooled in their craft, blessed with the ability to effectively communicate, can, if they are not careful, manipulate people. The altar call is just one of many, tools that can be used to manipulate others. What pastors call God is actually the pastor and his well-honed communication skills manipulating those listening to the sermon.

A public church service can be a dangerous place. Parents, with nary a thought, allow their children to be influenced by men well schooled in mental and emotional manipulation. Even adults, especially those who have problems in their lives, are susceptible to manipulation. Adults enter the church building burdened with the cares of life and the pastor, with his well-chosen words, convinces them to respond to an altar call. Jesus is the answer! Hooked on drugs, booze? Jesus will set you free. Family a mess, headed for divorce court? Jesus will make things right. Come, don’t delay. And people, with lives burdened down by problems and adversity, rush to the altar thinking Jesus will fix everything for them.

Let me ask you a question. Every head bowed, every eye closed.

Are you saved? Do you remember a definite time and placed in your life where you repented of your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

If not, raise your hand. No one is looking. This is just between you and God. Raise your hand, I want to pray for you.

I see that hand. and that one. Thank you Ma’am. Thank you Sir.

Lord you see the hands that were raised. Save them Lord. In Jesus name, amen.

In a moment we are going to sing Just as I Am.

If you raised your hand I, want you to step out from your pew, and come to the front. Someone will meet you and will share with you what the Bible says about being saved.

Don’t delay.

That’s right, keep coming.

Are there others?

Even if you didn’t raise your hand, is there something you need to confess to God?


Do it now.

Don’t wait.

Dinner will wait.

Your soul is worth more than all the money in the world.

We are going to sing the last verse one more time. That’s it. Don’t neglect so great a salvation.

God doesn’t promise to always strive with you. One day his Spirit may no longer call and it will be too late for you,


Published: July 20, 2014 | Comments: 33