Church Visits

Visiting Churches: Chris Thompson (stainedglass) is an amateur Alaskan biblical scholar and student of religion, especially as it relates to popular culture. He regularly attends national and regional American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature events to interact with and learn from worldwide religion scholars. Through unannounced mystery visits to churches in Anchorage and South-Central Alaska, he observes how guests (visitors) are treated during this initial church visit. Research indicates guests first visit perceptions affects further spiritual growth and religious attitudes as they search for a church home. Chris' church visits focus primarily on Christian churches. This blog contains accounts of those visits, and related posts about religion in culture. Chris looks for the following in his visits:

•Genuine welcome, true Christian hospitality

•Friendliness and warmth

•Effective, well-delivered, Bible-based, main teaching

•Music deepening the worship, not just entertainment

Google map of churches Chris Thompson has visited.

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Significant 2013 Church Visits Posts

Top Ten Issues Local Churches Must Address in 2013

Ten Things Churches Did That Blew Me Away In 2012

Guest Post: Why Theology Matters to Musicians

Church Visits: What's it like visiting a church with a guest-friendly service? - 7/5/2014 2:08 pm

Church Visits: 10 excuses people give for not attending church - 6/28/2014 11:21 am

Church Visits: Religious pluralism in Alaska here to stay - 6/21/2014 8:28 am

Church Visits: Welcoming churches can reverse attendance slump - 6/14/2014 9:21 am

Crosspoint Community Church Revisit – May 11, 2014 - 6/13/2014 1:44 pm

Church Visits: 5 easy ways to increase your biblical literacy - 6/7/2014 5:23 pm

Church Visits: Cardinal Dolan discusses the pastoral challenges facing Pope Francis - 5/31/2014 1:07 pm

Beast Feast: Great Food and Conversation - 5/30/2014 10:10 pm

Visited 3 Churches Last Sunday: New Church Season

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I visited three churches last Sunday as promised in my previous blog post (click here to read). In that post, I noted that this is the time of year churches, with summer worship schedules, commence meeting on their fall/winter schedules.

St. John UMC's 50th Anniversary Homecoming celebration was a fun time with their gymnasium almost full of good-natured attendees who would have normally attended one of the 3 or 4 services this time of year. A time capsule from 25 years ago was opened and discussed. There was special music, readings, and an excellent message by Rev. Dave Beckett, the Alaska Superintendent of the United Methodist Conference. Beckett shared ways membership declines can be arrested, and true growth achieved through natural missional spirit. A large number of new members were also accepted into fellowship by Senior Pastor Peter Perry during the service. A potluck fellowship luncheon immediately followed the worship service.

I dropped in on Amazing Grace Lutheran Church and chatted briefly with Pastor Marty Dasler. The members were still being served a fellowship luncheon, and were seated in various rooms in various areas of their building. Pastor Marty discussed their last service where an Olympic theme was employed to make the Bible message stickier. I was warmly invited to join them for the luncheon, but had to make one other stop.

My last visit was to Trinity Presbyterian Church. Their members were also eating a post worship meal in various areas of the church. Associate Pastor Tammie Letts warmly greeted me as I entered and also invited me to join them for lunch, which I declined.

I visited these churches as each of them have exemplified the things I look for in my church visits and seem to be consistent in doing so. They offer warm greetings, Christian Hospitality, music for worship and not entertainment, and strong Bible-centered messages. Other churches offer some of these values too, but I love to occasionally drop in on consistent churches to bask in the warmth of true Christian values.

Thanks St. John, Amazing Grace, and Trinity for the hospitality offered last weekend.

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