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

Five Church Moments that Blew Me Away in 2013

2013 was challenging year for me as I attended Anchorage churches and wrote of those visits, or other religious matters connected with them. Although I visited many churches and wrote up posts of those visits, there did not seem to be as many “blow me away” moments as in previous years. There is no particular order to this list but it does represent a list of my highly significant spiritual moments. The bolded headings for these moments are hyperlinked to the ADN.com/ChurchVisits post on these particular moments.

1. Interview with Mary Bolin
My interview with Mary Bolin was a high point of presenting people of significant note in the Anchorage church community. A long-time greeter at Cornerstone Church in South Anchorage, Mary’s thoughts reflect a deep passion for welcoming and connecting guests at her church. In my years of visiting churches, Mary stands out above all other local greeters in making guests glad they chose a particular church for their worship.

2. A Joyous Service at Great Land Christian Church
Without a doubt, my revisit to Great Land Christian Church was one of the my high points of 2013. These are friendly people, full of good energy in their service, hungry for clear spiritual teaching. This is clearly a place where the younger generation rule and come to learn. Their preacher Ray Nadon fills them with the Word, and a greater knowledge of its meaning each Sunday, and their music is a capella and fun to sing. What a surprise to actually hear worshipers singing and not being drowned out by a 105db praise band.

3.Pastoral Sharing of Advent Reflections
I was gratified by the pastoral responses to my request for Advent Reflections which were published on this blog throughout December. The quality of the thoughts each pastor shared was far beyond what I expected. To these pastors, Advent is more than just a word. It infuses the season leading to Christmas with new expressions about the significance of the waiting, longing, and fulfillment of the promises of God. Thank you pastors!

4. Beer & Hymns Fundraiser
Clearly the Beer & Hymns fundraiser for LSSA’s food bank was an immensely enjoyable and successful evening. Held at Mo’s O’Bradys in April and November, this 2 hour event spent with folks who are obeying Christ’s command to feed the hungry, was much fun. I met many new people, sang wonderful hymns, enjoyed good food and beverages, and saw how active the sponsoring church, Christ Our Savior Lutheran, is in the local community. They talk the talk, and walk the walk.

5. Ash Wednesday 2013 – St Mark’s Episcopal – Seattle
One of my highpoint spiritual experiences last year took place at St. Mark’s Episcopal church in Seattle. A wonderful homily by the Reverend Irene Tanabe hit the nail on the head, including several Seinfeld references, atypical for an Ash Wednesday service. Click here for an audio recording of Rev Tanabe's well-delivered homily. The church also had “Intentions Trees” for registering ones intention for a change in behavior or attitude during Lent. This marvelous idea was the subject of another post.

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