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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Chris Thompson’s email: churchvisits@gmail.com

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 do millennials look for in worship? - 4/11/2014 10:29 pm

Church Visits: Visits to 2 churches leave 2 different impressions - 4/4/2014 9:19 pm

Church Visits: Research underscores deeper church attendance issues - 3/28/2014 9:19 pm

Church Visits: It's time we get back to observing the Sabbath - 3/21/2014 8:30 pm

Church Visits: Look deeper into Lent than just 'give-ups' - 3/14/2014 10:37 pm

First Congregational Church Revisit: Not Bad - Room to Grow - 3/14/2014 11:23 am

Church Visits: Pastors mark start of Lent by taking ashes to the people - 3/8/2014 10:56 am

Church Visits: Tools for finding the right church for you - 3/1/2014 3:03 pm

It's Second Advent Sunday 2012

Follow my church visit activity at Twitter.com/ChurchVisits

The 2nd Advent candle, The Bethlehem Candle, the Candle of Peace, will be lit today in services around Anchorage. Advent is a wonderful time of year to worship the coming King, reflect on the promises related to his promised coming, and to prepare one's heart for the celebration of the birth of a King.
Kathy Harris & Bill Pelke - Lighting 1st Advent Candle - First UMC - AnchorageKathy Harris & Bill Pelke - Lighting 1st Advent Candle - First UMC - AnchorageKathy Harris & Bill Pelke - Lighting 2nd Advent Candle - First UMC - AnchorageKathy Harris & Bill Pelke - Lighting 2nd Advent Candle - First UMC - Anchorage

My church visit today was to First UMC in downtown Anchorage. I was drawn in by an announcement in the Matters of Faith listings on Saturday. Pastor Ron Myers message was titled "Advent Conspiracy: Worship Fully". First UMC uses a traditional Methodist liturgy. This works for me, especially as many contemporary churches don't reveal the order of service in their bulletins. If they did, I think many people would walk out if they knew what was in store for them, especially the 1/2 hr. to 3/4 hr. trance concerts by their musical departments.

I walked into First UMC at 10:50 a.m., 10 minutes before church start. No one greeted me and the church was empty, except for the choir practicing in the choir loft. However I was greeted by several of the choir members and Pastor Ron Myers as they went to the back of the church prior to the service.

The Advent candle lighting was important to me as the couple officiating had an extended reading noting the significance of this act. I enjoyed Pastor Myers sermon which was revealing in it's recounting of the wonderful moments experienced in worship. He emphasized the connections between people worshiping together. Myers ended by wishing that his congregation would worship as one during this Christmas season. Advent season is characterized by heartfelt worship services like this. I'm glad I went.

I urge you to take in an Advent service this Sunday. Some churches offering Advent services were noted in the Matters of Faith page in Saturday's, Anchorage Daily News.

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