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 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

First Advent Visit - Our Lady of Guadalupe

I enjoy visiting different Anchorage churches during Advent to experience individually different flavors of Advent Celebration. I chose Our Lady of Guadalupe for my visit last Sunday to experience their celebration at the 5:30 Mass. Sunday is a busy day with Masses at 9, 11:30, and 5:30. The church is large and the 5:30 mass attendees almost filled the church.Fr. Vince and Lighting of First Advent CandleFr. Vince and Lighting of First Advent Candle

The service lasted about an hour and was a beautiful mix of music, liturgy, and Mass celebration. Fr. Vince Blanco is the parish priest. Surprisingly he lit the first candle in the Advent wreath almost immediately as the service started. Many churches do this differently at various times of the service. I almost missed it as it came so quickly. The first candle is symbolic of Hope.Fr. Vince PreachingFr. Vince Preaching

There was beautiful music by their choir and instrumentalists. Fr. Vince's sermon was well-delivered with him standing down in front of the congregation. It was as if he was having a conversation with his family. His sermon was an excellent reflection on Advent and the importance of observing it. He closed his sermon an admonition, "May God be a priority in your life."

Before the Mass was celebrated a beautiful version of The Lord's Prayer was sung by the congregation, instead of being recited. Many congregants held hands during this singing, families, et al.Boxes Destined for Phillipine ReliefBoxes Destined for Phillipine Relief

As I left, I noticed many boxes of donations in the narthex that were designated for Philippine relief.

I enjoyed this Advent service very much, even though I'm not of the Catholic persuasion. It was a warm and friendly service.

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