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:

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 Stephen Vicaro

Follow my church visit activity at

I've asked a cross-section of Anchorage pastors to comment upon Advent as an Antidote for Acquisitiveness or Consumerism. Our next pastor featured is Stephen Vicaro, pastor of Hillside O'Malley Seventh-day Adventist Church.

Gift giving is a challenge. The perfect gift is one that is wanted, needed, and unexpected. Satisfying all three of these criteria is uncommon, but sure to bring excitement to both the giver and receiver.

When God gave His Son to Humanity, few people were excited about the Gift. Jesus was wanted by some, needed by all, but most were not expecting Him. This is not to say that those who called themselves followers of the Creator were not “expecting” a Messiah. Indeed, they were waiting for Him, though not exactly.

God’s people were expecting one who would redeem them from poverty, save them from their enemies, deliver them from the Roman authority that was over them, and give them their heart’s desire, along with many other expectations.

Yet the Father arranged that His Son would be born in an animal shelter, raised by peasants, self-employed as a skilled laborer, without any formal education, and with no military training. Jesus was certainly not what His proclaimed people were expecting. So when Christ came the first time, they missed out on the joy. But He was so much better than what they were expecting: love, forgiveness, righteousness, purity. Only shepherds and foreign travelers, along with a few others who were true in heart, knew when he arrived. God’s perfect gift was only appreciated by a few.

As we celebrate Christ’s first advent and await His second, let us not miss out on the blessing that God has already given to us. Simplicity rather than extravagance, the spiritual rather than the material, giving rather than getting: these are some of the lessons that God gave us through His Son.
Stephen Vicaro, Pastor - Hillside O'Malley SDA ChurchStephen Vicaro, Pastor - Hillside O'Malley SDA Church

Anchorage Daily News is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service