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

Thanksgiving Sermons – Will Preachers Upset or Avoid?

Thanksgiving sermons are interesting. The Sunday before Thanksgiving is an ideal time for preachers to remind parishioners about the dangers of Christians shopping on our national holiday, a day for family and friends to give thanks. Our consumer-driven economy is an antithesis to the vision Christ painted over 2,000 years ago. In that spirit, true Christians would not “shop ‘til they drop” at this time of year because “It’s not your birthday...” as Pastor Bob Mather noted in his Advent thought last year. (Click HERE and HERE)

However, the merchants of America keep pushing forward the dates of the Christmas selling season. First it was Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Now the big sell has intruded into the hours of Thanksgiving itself. Thanksgiving was symbolic of family and friends meeting once a year to break bread together, and give thanks for what we have.

The Bible is chock full of counsel to Christians against accumulation, consumerism, and love for the things of the world. When I grew up, and as recent as a few years ago in Texas, if you needed a last minute item at Safeway on Thanksgiving Day, it was closed. It is rapidly becoming business as usual. You might say, what about the Jews, Muslims, Buddists, etc? Thanksgiving is not a religious holiday. It’s a national holiday, advocated by presidents and signed into law, to set aside and recognize a day of thanks.

Matt Walsh, a Huffington Post blogger posted his thoughts on this issue November 20 entitled “If You Shop on Thanksgiving, You Are Part of the Problem”. I am shocked by the number of commentators who were vehemently opposed to his thoughts and supported treating Thanksgiving like any other day.

I’m curious how many Alaskan pastors will actually tell it like it is, this Sunday before Thanksgiving, in a sermon denouncing the spirit of acquisition and consumerism. Their parishioners might not be happy with such a sermon, but it is the right spirit of religion. I do note that while many churches do not celebrate Thanksgiving as a religious holiday, they do use it as a springboard to extend help to those less fortunate in our community. They do this by having Thanksgiving dinners where all are invited, giving generously to food banks for distribution, and volunteer to work in the many non-profits who actually feed the less fortunate, and give money to support these causes. One such cause is the Thanksgiving Blessing which I’ll be writing about tomorrow.

Finally I applaud those merchants who are courageously standing firm and not opening on Thanksgiving Day to honor our country’s national holiday. This Huffington Post article honors those merchants "Costco, Nordstrom Refuse To Ruin Thanksgiving".

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