Indeed, this tradition permeates many churches and consistently replaces actual true conviction of the Holy Spirit to a conviction of one's emotions or simply of one's feeling guilted into making a decision.
This tradition is the public invitation or altar call. Not to be confused with the less heinous private invitation in which you are invited to the altar while everyone's "heads are bowed and eyes are closed," the public invitation is one that asks you whether you were convicted about a message while everyone sees how you respond. (The closed invitation I still don't particularly like, but don't see as anything more than a preference in styles, rather than an actual issue to write a blog post about.)
The problems with this could fill a blog post, which I guess is good, since that's what I'm attempting to do.
1. It encourages dishonesty. Individuals who felt nothing within the sermon may find themselves in a social peer pressure situation in order to be seen as a "good Christian" walk up to the front, raise their hands, or otherwise signify that their heart has been changed.
Additionally, those who in a private invitation may come forward and pray might find themselves in a social peer pressure situation to not come up to the front or otherwise signify their agreement because they believe that they will be perceived as a "goody-goody two shoes."
2. It's manipulative. If you respond to my point about dishonesty by saying that it ultimately increases the number of people who commit to the Lord (such as at a missions conference), all I have to say to you is the tagline of this point.
Seriously, manipulation is not exactly the tactic that we should be using to try to change people's lives.
3. It involves an emotional rather than actually true conviction. To put it another way, it fails to encourage an honest to goodness change of heart. Instead, the emotional intensity of the moment leads to people making commitments that they don't actually comprehend.
So instead of the Holy Spirit actually changing lives and hearts, we are left with emotional moves to the altar that look good for statistics, but leave no lasting impact.
That's probably a reason why these public invitations just need to go away.