Chris Thompson

Since Apple first released its game-changing iPhone in 2007, apps -- and smartphone apps in particular -- have changed the way we access the Internet and the way we use our smartphones.

I’ve written about apps in the past (you can find my previous coverage at ( tinyurl.com/nfch7xn ), but as different churches adopt the technology or adapt the ways in which they use it, the subject is worth revisiting...

Chris Thompson

It’s extremely unusual to read a headline like that these days.

Baptist church consultant Thom Rainer writes in “Breakout Churches” that the average tenure of pastors is 3.6 years. Church statistician George Barna offered a similar figure: “The average tenure of a pastor in Protestant churches has declined to just 4 years -- even though studies consistently show that pastors experience their most productive and influential ministry in years 5 through 14 of their pastorate.”...

Chris Thompson

Last Friday was an unusual day in the Anchorage Archdiocese. Catholics from all over Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and across the Pacific, converged on Our Lady of Guadalupe, the local co-cathedral, to celebrate Archbishop's Roger L. Schweitz's 75th birthday and his 25th anniversary of elevation to the episcopate. Eleven bishops, four archbishops, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo from the Philippines, and a representative from Schwietz’s order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, were present and participated in the celebration of the Mass. Former Archbishop Francis T. Hurley, Orthodox Bishop David Mahaffey of Sitka and Alaska, and numerous parish priests rounded out the group...

Chris Thompson

Growing up, I fondly remember attending vacation Bible school. I remember a positive experience with singing, crafts, exercise, and Bible stories, and retain memories of making bookends from quartz and plaster of Paris during crafts. Many local churches offer vacation Bible school experiences for kids today. In fact, in a 2013 report on vacation Bible schools, a Barna group study found more than 68 percent U.S. churches held them in 2012...

Chris Thompson

Since moving to Alaska 15 years ago, I’ve seen Anchorage’s faith community rapidly adopt digital media -- especially in the past five to seven years. Some churches have been slow adopters, a frustration to those who stay current with technology. Others have rushed headlong into digital media trying to adopt everything in sight with no clear strategy for doing so. A few churches have meaningfully adopted digital media, adeptly providing clear benefits to members and visitors. This column today explores the growing importance of one type of such media -- church websites -- locally...

Chris Thompson

Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center, looking at U.S. Census Bureau projections for 2015, pronounced, “ This year, Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers .” Defining millennials as those between the ages of 18 and 34, Pew researchers projected millennials will rise to 75.3 million, versus 74.9 million baby boomers. Generation X is projected to outnumber boomers by 2028. Today’s column examines some reasons for this demographic shift, plus new research on millennials, and the effect it will have on churches...

Chris Thompson

Last week I wrote about my visit to Alaska’s second-largest megachurch, Anchorage Baptist Temple. Following that service, I visited ChangePoint Alaska. With an average weekly attendance of 3,300 according to the Hartford Institute for Religion Research , ChangePoint is the state’s largest church...

Chris Thompson

As I visit various faith communities, and write about them, I attempt to avoid delving into beliefs, which aren’t the focus of my writing. I focus on how congregations present themselves to guests and members by evaluating their welcome/greeting, sermons, and music. Since 2008, I’ve visited Anchorage Baptist Temple several times separated by long intervals.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research , defines a megachurch as “… any Protestant congregation with a sustained average weekly attendance of 2,000 persons or more in its worship services,” and by this definition, ABT qualifies as a megachurch...

Chris Thompson

My column two weeks ago was next to a New York Times story with the headline “Big drop in share of Americans identifying as Christian.” USA Today headlines blared, “Christians drop, ‘nones’ soar in new religion portrait.” CNN, not to be undone, shouted “Millennials leaving the church in droves, study finds.” Dozens of other headlines tried to outdo each other with hyperbole. But what’s it all about?...

Chris Thompson

If you are visiting Anchorage or moving here, we have many religious worship options. Muslims will find a mosque. Jews can find two synagogues, Reform and Lubavitcher, with Friday and Saturday services. The northernmost Hindu temple in the world is within five minutes of the airport terminal. All major religions in America are represented with convenient and often beautiful worship places, close to major hotels, many within walking distance. Three Orthodox groups in Alaska are very prominent in Anchorage. Formerly called Russian Orthodox -- now simply Orthodox -- one of our earliest religious groups arrived here 200 years ago. Its bishop lives in Anchorage. Several spectacular churches and a cathedral here are affiliated with them....

Chris Thompson

Pages