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: 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

Latest Pew Report Shows Christmas Becoming Cultural Only

Last week's Pew Forum report on Christmas, Celebrating Christmas and the Holidays, Then and Now, (PDF attached) is no longer a shocker but sad nonetheless. Commercial interests and a lackluster church crowd have usurped Christmas allowed it to become more of secular holiday than one of religious significance.

According the report, "Nine-in-ten Americans say they celebrate Christmas, and three-quarters say they believe in the virgin birth of Jesus. But only about half see Christmas mostly as a religious holiday, while one-third view it as more of a cultural holiday. Virtually all Christians (96%) celebrate Christmas, and two-thirds see it as a religious holiday. In addition, fully eight-in-ten non-Christians in America also celebrate Christmas, but most view it as a cultural holiday rather than a religious occasion."

Key Findings
Christmas and the Holidays: What do you most look forward to?
69% - Time with family and friends
11% - Religious reflection/Church
7% - People are happy, joyful

Christmas and the Holidays: What do you like the least?
33% - Commercialism/Materialism
22% - Money/Too expensive
10% - Shopping/Crowds/Crowded Stores

Many research studies indicate Christian religious affiliation and participation in Christmas is dropping rapidly in the U.S. Worldwide, Christmas observance is rapidly being adopted and growing, even in non-Christian cultures. The Advent Reflections published on this blog during Advent show many religious figures decry the commercialism that has overtaken this season. So far I've never heard a single sermon in any church where members were admonished and corrected regarding this usurpation of Christmas. Of course, many of their members are heavily involved in commerce that benefits from Christmas, so it would be akin to shooting oneself in the foot to openly try to reset expectations of what Christmas is about.

In the early church, believers stood out from the existing culture of the day, often paying with their lives for opposing the culture. Tonight marks the end of Advent and celebrations of the Lord's birth commence at midnight.

My hope is that Christians will rerecognize that Advent and Christmas are rooted in fact, and a sincere belief that mankind's redemption sprang from events of this night that happened over 2,000 years ago. I long for Emmanuel's return in God's time.

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