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: Easter asks for our joy, not our spending - 4/19/2014 1:17 pm

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

Edward Fudge: The Ashes Tell the Truth

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Earlier this week, noted blogger Edward Fudge* posted a wonderful write-up regarding Ash Wednesday. A number of evangelical Christian groups totally ignore Ash Wednesday, the starting of Lent, and the significance of the season of Lent, but jump right in during Holy Week. With Edward Fudge's permission, I'm extremely pleased to share his blog post in it's entirety.
Edward Fudge - Noted Author, Blogger, TheologianEdward Fudge - Noted Author, Blogger, Theologian
The Ashes Tell the Truth: Edward Fudge**

This past Wednesday, on the traditional Christian calendar, was Ash Wednesday. It is the first day of Lent, a 40-day period (not counting Sundays) of repentance and prayer that leads to the victorious climax on Easter Sunday. True, the New Testament does not mention Ash Wednesday, Lent or even Easter by name (except for a mistranslation in the KJV). Yet one would be hard pressed to object to the traditional themes and details those special days incorporate -- words and actions that are solidly biblical and spiritually strengthening as well, when celebrated with faith resting on Jesus Christ and undergirded by the atonement he has accomplished once for all.

The Episcopal liturgy for Ash Wednesday is typical of others, in which those assembled pray: "Almighty God, You have created us out of the dust of the earth: Grant that these ashes may be to us a sign of our mortality and penitence, that we may remember that it is only by your gracious gift that we are given everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen." The minister (or other officiant) then makes with ashes a small cross on each person's forehead while saying: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return."

The deed and the declarations harmonize, with each other and also with basic biblical truths. Truths that many Christians, bewitched by the death-denying mentality of our thoroughly- secular culture, avoid and even obscure. According to the Bible, death is not our friend but our enemy -- an enemy which Jesus came dying to destroy. Resurrection, not death, is the believer's doorway into immortality. But Easter is about resurrection: the ashes last week are about our mortality that makes resurrection so exceedingly vital, in both senses of the word. Thanks be to God!

* Edward William Fudge (born July 13, 1944) is an American Christian theologian and lawyer, best known for his book "The Fire that Consumes", in which he argues against traditionalist Christian interpretations of Hell. He has been called "one of the foremost scholars on hell" by The Christian Post. He is the subject of the 2012 independent film "Hell and Mr. Fudge".
** Original blog posted at http://edwardfudge.com/gracemails/ash_wednesday.html



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