"I came forward at church camp in 5th grade and 'invited Jesus into my life as my personal Lord and Savior.' I cried like a baby, too...But then, a few years later, I was a counselor at that camp, and I discovered that the staff set that night up every year. They called it 'Cry Night.' " Link.
So, do you think the young man would have felt just as conned if the preaching were specifically set up so that all the rational, logical arguments for a Saviour were presented instead and it were called "Thought Night?"
Maybe your answer depends on how you think people get "saved" in the first place. Um, or even if you believe in salvation anyway. (Yeah, that would necessitate a way different preaching style for sure.)
Just going back to the Bible, I see all kinds of ways people came to know Christ. There's the Ethopian eunuch, just sitting around reading a scroll when Phillip "happened" by. They discussed some theological questions and ta-da! Instant "I wanna be baptized right NOW" kind of salvation happened. It sure doesn't sound from the account in Acts that Phillip did the old "turn or burn" preaching message on the fellow. He found out about who Christ was, how He fulfilled prophecy and how he could enter in to this promise through belief and baptism. (Acts chapter 8 if you want to read the account.)
Hey, but another way isn't so intellectual. Ananias and Sapphira... could you imagine people dropping dead because the Holy Sprit told your pastor that they didn't give ALL their money to the church? But yet the Bible tells us that "great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things." (Acts 5:11) I'm not sure if that means there were more converts as a result, or if it just meant that people didn't specially want to bicker with Peter after the sermon about some minor point for fear they'd drop dead. But even the book of Esther in the Old Testament recounts that there were conversions because of widespread fear in the land. It isn't just a Christian thing to record conversions and rejoice about them.
My opinion (subject to change without notice) is that pastors should know their "audience" and pray. Ta-da! They of course can change their style if they feel their words are not reaching their audience. I'm not sure that my children all appreciate the same style, either, though they are all going to have to attend the same church whether they like it or not. I guess I wonder where the line between "making sure you're reaching people with the message" and "manipulating people to come forward, cry at the altar and make a huge Christ-commitment" would be. Perhaps that line is cultural. Or perhaps it depends upon the preacher and his motivation. Just thinking alound and I'm always glad to read your thoughts. :]