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

Community Covenant – Eagle River: New Leadership, Old Charm

I revisited Community Covenant – Eagle River on January 19. Little did I realize what was in store. Blog posts of the two previous visits to Community Covenant can viewed HERE and HERE. It had been almost three years since visiting this fine church.

From the time of my arrival, no more than 5-7 minutes elapsed until I had been greeted by half a dozen people or more, including the new pastor. This is a rare occurrence among my many local church visits. (Most guests decide to make a return visit to a church 5-8 minute from arrival.) This created a favorable impression in my mind which I’ll never forget.Community Covenant's Praise Band Singing "Light of the World"Community Covenant's Praise Band Singing "Light of the World"

A few first impressions to start with. People were friendly to each other and engaged in good conversation. It felt like a happy place. The platform was ringed by "Christmassy" appearing displays which seemed out of place for late January. The musical group of six now occupied the entire top of the platform, although the group was still the same size. It appeared they was now a more important part of the service than the preaching. Nonetheless, the band was still good, singing many spiritually correct songs interspersed throughout the service. I would not place their musical contribution in the same category as last weeks article on song services, but still, they sounded great. Among the hymns performed was “Great is thy Faithfulness” and “Be Thou My Vision”, both great hymns of the church.

Previous Pastor Mark Meredith has moved on and their new pastor is Todd Michero. When he introduced himself to me, I asked why he wasn't speaking that day. He indicated the speaker would be Curtis Ivanoff, Field Director of Evangelical Covenant Church of Alaska, and that he would be consecrated for his ministry at this church later in the service.Curtis Ivanoff Delivering a Wonderful MessageCurtis Ivanoff Delivering a Wonderful Message

Ivanoff's wonderful talk titled, “Jesus More Real, God’s Work More Evident”, outlined the history and work of their denomination in Alaska stretching back into the 19th century. It was replete with artifacts and historical pictures of the early days with their Alaska ministry. Click HERE to hear his wonderful sermon. Curtis ended his talk by singing, in Inupiat – Kobuk dialect, this outstanding song.

Aarigaa (Inupiat for Fine! Good! An expression of enjoyment.)

Verse 1 of 5 Verses
Jesus will come again his promise to fulfill. Christians, only those who accept it, He will receive, Good! Fine!

Good! Fine!; Good! Fine! It’s a good land. When we enter, the trail, the path is bright, Good!
Fine! It’s a good land He has given.

This was a wonderful song and affirmation in native tongue. The Inupiat translation is not complete, but it rivals most Christian hymns. Such feeling!Ivanoff and CCC Leaders Praying for Pastor Michero & WifeIvanoff and CCC Leaders Praying for Pastor Michero & Wife

After Ivanoff's talk, the leadership team was called to the platform, and prayed for incoming Pastor Michero, connecting to him through corporate laying on of hands. It was a touching and fitting end to this wonderful service.

I highly recommend this church for their guest-friendly services, warmth and hospitality, good music, and worthy sermons. They have the right stuff. I look forward to listening to Pastor Michero’s teaching in the near future. You can listen to some of his sermons already through the sermon link above.

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