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.

Follow my Church Visits posts on Twitter

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'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 Reflection: Pastor Martin Dasler

Follow my church visit activity at Twitter.com/ChurchVisits

I've asked a cross-section of Anchorage pastors to comment upon Advent as an Antidote for Acquisitiveness or Consumerism. The next pastor featured is Pastor Martin Dasler of Amazing Grace Lutheran Church.

Observing Advent as a separate season has preserved many people in the church from getting overwhelmed in the materialistic gift buying and selling of the pre-Christmas season. The season of Advent enjoys a natural rhythm of anticipation that every child with a birthday knows quite well. Certain events as well as time must come to pass before the celebration takes place. Capitalizing on this the church has told Bible stories filled with interesting characters, (John, Mary, and Elizabeth ), sprinkled with the rich imagination of prophets ( Isaiah, Malachi and Zephaniah). One Sunday they are called a “Brood of Vipers” and the next week people are bursting into songs of joyful anticipation like Mary and John’s father Zachariah. All have their part in the great pre-Christmas drama.

In many congregations the color of Advent is blue, the color of hope, not only reflecting Mary’s color, but the witness of Isaiah who reminded us that “the people who have walked in darkness have seen a great light”. I also like the way Advent serves as a counterpoint to a culture which wants everything “on demand” and seems incapable of denying itself anything. For many in the church this has become a favorite time of the year. It is the blessed anticipation of longing and waiting at the door until “the fullness of time” has come. Out in the shopping world good deals are now referred to as “door busters”. The church would prefer that we wait in peace, quiet, and contemplation trusting that the door will open at the right time. The philosopher, mathematician and theologian Blaise Pascal wrote:

"All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

I would add “...and wait”. Pastor Martin Dasler - Amazing Grace Lutheran ChurchPastor Martin Dasler - Amazing Grace Lutheran Church

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