Altar Worker’s Guide: Part 1 – Introductory

All needs are important, but the biggest need is the need that someone brings when they come to an altar.

Jonathan Ryan Grice

What is an Altar?

An altar, as you all know, is a sacred place where individuals can come to repent, seek forgiveness, lay down their burdens, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. It is a place where one can experience spiritual renewal and transformation. However, it is important to note that an altar does not necessarily have to be in a church building. An altar can be anywhere, someone can receive the Holy Ghost in a living room just as well as they can in church.

What is an “Altar Worker”?

An altar worker is an individual that helps or works with another person.
Typically an individual who assist someone in seeking and expecting a work from God. The role of an altar worker is to teach, encourage, and assist individuals, both those coming back to the altar as well as newcomers, in responding to what God is doing. To do this effectively, an altar worker must have the ability to access the needs of others and have a heart for intercession and prayer. An altar worker bridges the gap between where someone is and where God is calling them to be. Whither that’s to be filled with the Holy Ghost or for a breakthrough. An altar worker is valuable and has a large contributing effect to a revival. Whither 10 or 110 is prayed through.

In Genesis 22:9-12 it says, “And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou has not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.”

The word “fear” in this scripture means to honor or give reverence. In the scripture we read about Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar. This act of faith and obedience shows us that an altar is a place where we give everything to God, even the things we hold dear. As altar workers, it is our responsibility to create a safe and sacred space where individuals can come to the altar, experience the presence of God, and receive a breakthrough in their need.

Before the Altar Call

Altar work is bigger than just laying your hands on someone. There are several important elements that is contributed to the seeker’s experience of spiritual renewal and transformation.

Your job as an Altar Worker starts long before an altar call. Scan the congregation and take inventory of guests who are there because they wouldn’t be there if not for hearing about the services, watching the livestream, or a Bible Study and they are seeking for something more fulfilling. Have you ever looked around during a service and saw other people with their head down or weeping in response to what’s going on? Most times those are the first people that are going to make their way to the altar when an altar call is given.

So I’m at the altar, what do I do?

I usually am someone who is standing at the back of everyone else at the altar and am uncomfortable just walking up to someone who’s praying, because I respect their communion with God and there is always someone far greater experienced with altar work than I am. If you’re like me, you have to remember that God is bigger than you and He can work through you and give you confidence. The more uncomfortable you are with something, the more you can embrace it and grow.

Peter says in Acts 3:19, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”

Repentance is the first step in being reconciled with God and receiving a breakthrough for their need.

Engage with that person. Sometimes the new person at the altar will not know the concept of Brother or Sister So and So. Just simply introduce yourself and ask the person their name and ask them what their need is, what they are seeking. All needs are important, but the biggest need is the need that someone brings when they come to the altar.

You can’t have a thirty minute Bible Study with someone at the altar. You can quote a quick scripture that comes to mind regarding repentance and help them understand that repentance is the first step in getting their breakthrough.

They have to be in a repentant state. You can start praying for forgiveness yourself and you can ask the person to incorporate what you’re saying into their prayer. You have to start speaking it out.

Hebrews 11:6 says, “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

After repentance, remember that person’s need. It is important to pray with faith, declare the promises of God, and speak life and healing into their lives.

Finally, after prayer, it is important to praise God and expect Him to release His grace and power into the lives of those we are praying for. Praise is the magnet that draws the Holy Ghost in. It’s during praise that we get our prayers answered and receive our blessing.

If the person comes to the altar seeking the Holy Ghost be patient if they don’t immediately start speaking in tongues.

It’s important to remember that altar work is about helping people receive what God has for them. It’s not about us, it’s about God. Altar work requires a heart of compassion, a love for prayer and intercession, and a willingness to serve others.

A lot of this is from notes taken in Altar Worker class at Pine Grove Pentecostal Church on Wednesday, February 9th, 2023, led by Bro Heith Ellingburg and Bro Chris McGrone.