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

Advent Conspiracy – Righting the Wrongs of Christmas

In much of the world, Christmas celebrations are almost over, the presents have been given and unwrapped, and the reality of the fruits of acquisition/consumerism have set in. Many have succumbed to the temptation of debt to satisfy the urge to please. The sad thing it’s not about us! Anchorage Pastor Bob Mather’s words ring in my ears, “It’s not your birthday!”

There is hope for the dumbing down of Christmas through a new movement called Advent Conspiracy. Started by three pastors from Portland, OR and Houston, TX, the movement’s main goal is to replace consumption with compassion. This after realizing their congregations were transiting the Christmas season with no sense of joy. Fully described in an article by Sheldon Good, Reimagining Christmas in Sojourner magazine, December 2013 issue, Advent Conspiracy offers true hope to make a difference in the world. Quotes below taken from this article.

“AC’S CORE tenets are quite basic: Worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all. When lived out, however, these principles have subversive power to not only turn Christmas upside down but to transform lives.”

Pastor Mather's congregation, Baxter Road Bible Church, has for several years courageously donated 100% of its offering income in December to local charities and non-profits who desperately need this help to feed the poor, care for the homeless, shelter the abused, and various other ministries/non-profits nominated by its members. In Christmas 2012, close to $70,000 was raised for these organizations under Baxter’s giving program. What a tremendous feat, and consciousness awakening!

According to the Sojourner article, “In Portland, Ore., multiple congregations have used parishioners’ AC donations to partner with the city on local social justice initiatives, including poverty, sex trafficking, education, mentoring, and foster care. McKinley, a local pastor, (a pastor founder) said the churches always choose initiatives that parishioners are passionate about and can work with long term.”

“We don’t just cut a check,” McKinley states. “We partner with the city around these projects.” Right now, more than 100 churches are rallying around foster care.

Jesus clearly articulated many times that people could not inherit the kingdom unless they devoted their lives to helping their brothers. Many of His parables illustrated and addressed this principle. His interview with the rich young ruler about inheriting the kingdom advised the ruler to go sell everything he had and give it to the poor. The Bible records he went away sorrowing as he found the price too dear. Please take time to read this article on the Advent Conspiracy by clicking the hyperlink above. Clearly it offers a solution that is working worldwide and could work here.

My thanks to Rev. Walt Hays for sharing this article.

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