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

Advent 2012 Starts Tomorrow – Churches & Media Strangely Silent

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According to the Western Christianity church calendar, Advent starts tomorrow, December 2. I’m saddened that little word of it is being shared in the Anchorage church community.

Advent marks the start of the church year, and traditionally is observed each of the four Sundays before Christmas. It is observed by a period of watchful waiting for the Messiah. Traditionally it was a period of repentance and soulful searching of one’s heart. Only one church, First UMC in downtown Anchorage, submitted an Advent service announcement to the Anchorage Daily News Matters of Faith page for today’s paper.

Is it possible that everyone is tired from the orgy of eating and shopping over the past week? Or all those in-church celebrations of eating and entertaining? Advent is the perfect antidote for the mass consumerism that threatens to kill the true spirit of Christianity.

I checked a number of larger church websites and found only a few recognized the start of Advent and offered related services tomorrow. This list is representative but not intended to be exhaustive. However it does represent 1/2 to 2/3 of church attendance in Anchorage. The bottom line is you are going to have a tough time finding an Advent service tomorrow. Here’s what I found.

Advent Noted On Main Webpage
Christ Our Savior Lutheran (only prominent mention)
St John UMC
Holy Cross Parish
All Saints Episcopal (four earlier dates push Advent off page)

Advent Not Noted On Main Webpage
St Mary’s Episcopal
Trinity Presbyterian
First Presbyterian
St Benedict’s Parish
St Patrick's Parish
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish
Holy Family Cathedral
St Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish
Anchorage Baptist Temple
First Baptist
Amazing Grace Lutheran
Central Lutheran
Faith Christian Community

I have tried to be sensitive to not include those churches that do not observe Advent in these lists. It does give one food for thought as we enter this Advent season.

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