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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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: Easter asks for our joy, not our spending - 4/19/2014 1:17 pm

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

3rd Advent 2013 – Christ Our Savior Lutheran

It’s always a joy for me to visit Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church on Old Seward just north of DeArmoun. I consider it a premier neighborhood church with a difference. COSLC’s liturgical order helps guests make sense of the worship service, as opposed to those many Anchorage churches who believe that’s “old style”, tossing service order out of the window. This leaves many guests wondering exactly what is happening. Linked to a guest-unfriendly service, guests quickly decide to not revisit those churches.

Pastor Dan Bollerud is an innovative servant who has unusual services, shaking them up, helping you understand the true purpose of specific church services. This service was not an exception.

COSLC is a warm friendly church that makes all guests feel welcome and part of the church family. One feels valued in this congregation. The service last Sunday was based on Isaiah 55:1-11 which recounts Israel’s return from Babylonian captivity.3rd Advent Candle Lighting3rd Advent Candle Lighting

3rd Advent Sunday’s theme was Joy. This service dwelt on the joy and restoration theme, in all aspects. The lighting of the 3rd Advent candle of Joy came early in the service with the congregation responsively saying
“Whatever we face in life, God will make joy possible. When we light the candle of Joy, we celebrate the One who has come, is coming, and will come again
.”
Two young acolytes lit the candle of Joy as Pastor Dan led the readings.Pastor Dan Bollerud PreachingPastor Dan Bollerud Preaching

During the service a number of Advent hymns were sung by the smaller-than-usual congregation, no doubt daunted by the heavy snowfall we received last Saturday. Pastor Bollerud’s theme dwelt heavily on the key texts cited in Isaiah 55.

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come buy and eat!
Come buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.

Bollerud then extended God’s invitation to the communion table in an unusual exercise of devotion to God’s liberating gift. The communion tables were supplied with bread, wine, sparkling cider, and sweet breads. We were invited to partake of the Lord’s Supper in the same manner Jesus asked us to in remembrance of him. The congregation was asked to serve each other in “body and bread” language, e.g “The body of Christ, broken for you”, “The blood of Christ, shed for your sins”. In all of my years of church-going, this was certainly one of the most memorable communions I’ve had. We lose so much in our services by doing the same thing, in the same way, for years. Our beliefs need to be infused with new experiences from time to time. It truly awakens us to a different perspective on our beliefs.

I highly recommend Christ Our Savior Lutheran for its constantly challenging perspective of examining our beliefs, the warm and engaging members, and Pastor Dan Bollerud who walks with them as friend, and leader.

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