The “Anxious Bench”

Imagine being in a church service. Everyone is praying or singing songs of praise as the pastor loudly proclaims that people need to get “right with God.” You sit on a bench (aptly called the “anxious bench”) in front of the congregation, and they are waiting for you to find conviction, repentance, and a calling out for God. For those of us who like the back row, this would give us a slight panic attack! This scene was popular for the revivalist Charles Finney during the Second Great Awakening and was one of the earliest forms of what some churches today would call an “altar call” (Thomas Kidd, “A Brief History of the Altar Call,” The Gospel Coalition, July 24, 2017,