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 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

Great New Church Meeting at UAA

Follow my blog posts at Twitter.com/ChurchVisits. Become a Church Visits follower, and receive instant notice (Tweets) when I add posts.

Dilemma
What do you do when your church/denomination becomes so influenced by popular culture, it modifies the tenets of your life-long faith to the point it becomes barely recognizable? You can either accept the state of affairs, be quiet and submit to them, or you can organize a new church/denomination to maintain your belief structure.

A local group of Bible-believing Presbyterians has done exactly that. Meeting Sundays, 11 a.m., in UAA classroom (Room 117) in the Fine Arts Building they hope to move those services to the Recital Hall when its renovations are complete. Calling themselves Anchorage Presbyterian Fellowship they claim a non-denominational status. Last Sunday, June 30, I popped in for a visit and liked what I saw. APF adheres to 10 key beliefs as stated on their website.

Great Location
Who would have thought that a lecture auditorium at UAA would make a good setting for a new church, but it worked for me. With minimal effort, the classroom was transformed into an appropriate religious setting. A table on the platform was set up as an altar, with candles and flowers. A podium and piano completed the setting.

About 60 or attendees were cheerfully singing a hymn when I entered a few minutes late. The worship setting follows a comfortable, abbreviated liturgical form. I had missed the Opening Prayer and responsive Call to Worship but was there for the remainder of the service. They love hymns and joined in singing them unlike many other churches I visit. During this service they sang:

• Lift High the Cross
• There is a Balm in Gilead
• Make me a Blessing
• God Be With You Till We Meet Again

The hymns were appropriately and artfully led on the piano by well-known local pianist Marie Matetich.

Excellent Pastors
APF is recruiting a regular pastor to provide continuity for preaching and leadership in spiritual growth. However, for the present, they’re utilizing a series of local pastors speaking on Christian growth. Rev. Sam Humphreys Preaching at APFRev. Sam Humphreys Preaching at APF

This day Rev. Sam Humphreys shared a wonderful message titled “A Healthy Church Has a Heart for Others”. Assisted by but not indebted to PowerPoint slides he focused on Biblical counsel from 1 John 3:11, 14-18. I enjoyed his remarks as did the rest of those present. They've had other pastors from the local community including Rev. Rick Benjamin. Next Sunday, July 7, greatly loved local pastor Rev. Keith Lauwers will lead the worship service, to be followed by Rev. Rick Benjamin on July 14.

Anchorage Presbyterian Fellowship is a work in progress but they are friendly, have a 1 hour service that is Biblically-based, music that is participative and delights at once, and seems to be a friendly and hospitable group. An after worship fellowship with coffee and treats was served. I highly recommend APF for a rewarding visit. They seem to be doing the “right stuff”.APF Signage - Simple and EffectiveAPF Signage - Simple and Effective
UAA Fine Arts Building Entrance for APF ServicesUAA Fine Arts Building Entrance for APF Services

JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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