Twice yesterday, I came across accounts of pastors administering the sacraments. Each pastor seemed to have a different approach to his responsibility to prepare the one receiving the sacrament to receive the sacrament. Consider these two scenarios.
1) A pastor has a young college student attending his church. That college student is a self-proclaimed atheist. The student has been in attendance at several communion services, but has never received because of his atheism. This particular service, however, the student came to the altar to receive communion. Before serving him, the pastor asked him a question, "Has something about your atheism changed?" The student convincingly answered affirmatively and for the first time received the sacrament as a follower of Christ. Later the pastor and the student got together to discuss this perceived change.
2) A pastor has felt the need to encourage his people to experience the sacrament of baptism. So he prepares a beautiful worship service that will conclude with a baptism service. He includes videos of people talking about baptism and preaches a sermon discussing the sacrament. At the close of the sermon, instead of the traditional "altar call," there is a baptism call. Many people stood up, came forward, and right there and then got baptized.
These two pastors seem to take very different approaches to "preparing" their people to rightfully receive the sacraments. So my question is this: (1) What is a pastor's responsibility to the church and to the people to prepare candidates for receiving the sacraments' (2) What do you do to prepare your parishioners or how does your pastor prepare you/your congregation to receive the sacraments?