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

Super Bowl Sunday 2013: Christ Our Savior Lutheran Again

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Last year I visited Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church for a special Super Bowl Sunday service. So many churches in our country cut services because parishioners would rather worship football instead of worshiping God. This year was no exception.

My blog post on last year’s service at COSLC is here. In the year since, I’ve come back to this South Anchorage church more than once as I’ve discovered they’re an unpretentious, fun-loving, and friendly congregation. When people ask me for names of a few solid congregations, I often share COSLC’s name.

This year I attended their special service again. The football themes were the same as last year with the service separated by 4 quarters just like the game, etc. There was a slightly larger crowd than in the previous year, but, all-in-all, I considered it a most enjoyable service. Curious about the background of this service, and to put it in context, I asked Pastor Dan Bollerud to share his thoughts.Pastor Dan Bollerud - Christ Our Savior LutheranPastor Dan Bollerud - Christ Our Savior Lutheran

I believe worship should embrace not only the rich traditions of church history but also be culturally contextual. I also believe worship can embrace both the serious and the fun elements of life. A few years ago, someone in the congregation mentioned that their home church had some fun with Super Bowl Sunday and suggested that our congregation might consider something like that. On that particular weekend, whether you are a football fan or not, you are caught up in the football mania of the world around you. There are the games leading up to the Super Bowl, the predictions of who will be going and who will not, and of course, in more recent times, the interest in who will be running those famously expensive ads.

For the majority of people, football and especially Super Bowl is where their heads are on Sunday morning come worship time. Rather than fight it with another narrative, we embrace it and inject the spiritual, which always leads us back down from the spiritual mountain tops and into the world, into that Super Bowl experience. This year including the spiritual was made easier with the two brothers fighting it out with opposing teams who, following the game, would remain brothers. In addition to many of the football trappings in the worship space, the goal posts entrance, the center aisle with yard lines, the team logo’s with religious themes, we sing the old Bobby Bare song, “Drop Kick Me Jesus Through the Goal Posts of Life”.

Just as the Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness following his baptism, so too we are driven out into the world to be the presence of God’s love and grace and forgiveness in a world that all too often hands out only bitterness, condemnation and shame. Super Bowl Sunday allows us to have a fun worship while embracing where people’s heads are -- with the ancient and eternal message of God’s love for the whole world.

If you are looking for a new spiritual experience, I urge that you try Christ Our Savior Lutheran. You’ll find them friendly and hospitable, with solid Biblical messages, and music that is pleasing but clearly not entertainment.

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