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

Advent Reflection - Pastor Martin Dasler

This Advent I've asked a cross-section of Anchorage pastors representing a variety of faith traditions to submit a brief Advent Reflection under this year's theme: "Does Celebrating Advent Really Make a Difference?"

Our next Advent Reflection was submitted by Pastor Martin Dasler, Assistant Pastor of Amazing Grace Lutheran on the hillside.Pastor Martin DaslerPastor Martin Dasler

Does Celebrating Advent really make a difference?

In nearly 40 years of ministry I have watched people’s love of Advent continue to grow. When I began as a pastor in the early ‘70’s, Advent was a more austere time. Like Lent, the color purple emphasized a time of repentance.

Today many churches have changed to blue, the color of Mary and hope. This season, synchronized with a growing darkness in the North, stirs up our longing for a better world. One can hear that longing in the scriptural libretto of Handel’s Messiah, the music of Mozart or the songs of John Denver. All long for a better world or a love that seems unattainable.

“In the days to come...they will beat their swords into plowshares” speaks the 8th century BCE prophet Isaiah. If you long for a better world, a better government, a better self, Advent speaks to you. Advent is filled with redemptive desires and hopes. In a world filled with too much disillusionment and disappointment, Advent speaks to the profound desires of young idealists as well as to the lost hopes of crusty cynics.

There is a delicious richness in the Symbols of Advent. Four candled wreaths or logs, and countdown calendars encourage participatory preparation. The Advent stage fills with the magnificent poetry of Isaiah, Amos, Micah, John the Baptizer; then resounds with the hopeful or joyful songs of Zachariah, Mary and Elizabeth. It’s a time for Protestants to join Catholics to remember and admire Mary, and to sing with her songs of hope and promise.

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