In a piece over at Pulpit & Pen, Jeremy Roten tackles the “false convert” issue. Many people believe that by saying the “sinner’s prayer” or simply raising their hand during a church service to indicate they wish to have Christ in their life or going forward during a Billy Graham or Greg Laurie crusade means they’re born again (regenerate…saved). In other words, doing these sorts of things means a person can say with certainty, “I’m a Christian.” But do such methods save a person from going to hell? Or have we been sold a bill of goods by well-meaning evangelists, pastors, church leaders, teachers and friends? Sadly, we have. Thus, the visible Church has become rife with false converts. You ask, “how is this possible?” Jeremy Roten offers an explanation for what has been going on in Christendom…
Harvest America, with Greg Laurie, is coming to AT&T stadium near my house. This has sparked a lot of conversation lately for me. The conversation tends to end the same way each time. It ends with a question similar to this one, “If there are people that get saved what is wrong with calling people to walk an aisle and pray the sinner’s prayer?” I have had responses like this, “What does it matter if only a low percentage is saved that actually come forward if people are getting saved?” Other statements have gone like this, “If God saves people at these conferences it seems to be of God right?”
Before I go any further let me just say that, “It does seem that some fruit has come out of the Harvest Crusades.” I rejoice at the people that God saved out of these events despite what they do at the end!
Now, if people are getting saved from this crusade what is the problem? The problem is not with the people who are getting saved but with the false conversion it makes. Events like this make so many people believe they were saved because they made a decision. In a 1990 interview with PBS, Billy Graham thought that only about 25% of those who come forward at one of his events actually became a Christian. Not too bad right? In recent years, studies have shown that only 3% to 6% of people who “come forward” at an evangelistic crusade are any different in their beliefs or behavior one year later. Looks like 25% was a little too high of a guess.
What are the opposite numbers or statics of those who are false converts? By Billy Graham’s calculation, it would be 75% and by recent studies, it would be 97% to 94%. This is why I wrote this. Just look at the percentage of people who go forward that become false converts or fall away. Here is a Question to ask yourself. If your method of calling people to respond to the gospel is giving people false hope and does not save should you really do it? Where is the altar call or sinners prayer in the bible? If these things are not biblical why would you do it? Continue reading
Our Church, Our Children and the “Sinners Prayer” by Amy Spreeman
Who Are the Genuine Children of God by Mike Ratliff
No, We Are Not All God’s Children by Bill Muehlenberg