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Chris Thompson

We’re having a great Alaska summer in Anchorage and the vicinity. Anchorage and many other Alaska communities are hosting tens of thousands of tourists and returning snowbirds. Our glorious environment, incredible weather and many natural wonders are spectacular. Despite potential distractions, I urge visitors to seriously look at churching differently while here. Locals, take an opportunity to breathe deeply and become better acquainted with our church community. The following suggestions are offered as ways to step outside your religion box, while honoring the concept of a rest day...

Chris Thompson

Recently, I accompanied a group of men, mostly members of Baxter Road Bible Church, a popular East Anchorage church, on a float and fishing trip down the Gulkana River. Actually, I first heard about the trip when I attended the Beast Feast at BRBC, which I chronicled on my ADN Church Visits blog. The cost was minimal, I was free and so I signed up...

Chris Thompson

Christian churches, as a rule, have a long and glorious history of lengthy sermons, often an hour or two long. My suggestion last week that a 20-minute sermon might be an appropriate length drew the ire of some readers. Let’s face it: Our current communications paradigm is one of talking heads and sound bites. Too many Anchorage pastors squander precious sermon minutes with long stories or illustrations, full of emotional appeal, and narcissistic “I” statements with few ties to the chosen subject...

Chris Thompson

Blogging and writing about Anchorage area churches has occupied my time for more than six years. I was looking for four things in my mystery church visits, and they still suffice:

• Genuine welcome, true Christian hospitality • Friendliness and warmth • Effective, well-delivered, Bible-based, main teaching • Music deepening the worship, not just entertainment

This list covers the basics. In this article, I’ll give examples of how these four points work in actual practice. It’s simple for churches to provide them, creating a welcoming environment. During this time, many seekers have found churches meeting their needs...

Chris Thompson

Blogging and writing about Anchorage-area churches through the Anchorage Daily News has occupied my time for more than six years. I was looking for four things in my mystery church visits, and they still suffice:

• Genuine welcome, true Christian hospitality;

• Friendliness and warmth;

• Effective, well-delivered, Bible-based, main teaching;

• Music deepening the worship, not just entertainment.

This list covers the basics. In this column, I'll give examples of how these four points work in actual practice. It's simple for churches to provide them, creating a welcoming environment. During this time, many seekers have found churches meeting their needs...

Chris Thompson

Many Christians feel they can go it alone regarding religion or religious attendance. They regularly and vigorously express these sentiments to me when commenting about my Church Visits articles or in response to my blog posts. It's a national trend. Regardless of specific reasons or excuses, those expressing their disaffection quickly point out they reject corporate worship, organized religion and can worship by themselves at home or wherever. Many, however, still hold to their Christian beliefs...

Chris Thompson

The article, "Eight Reasons It's Easier Not to Attend Church Today" on the blog of noted church consultant Thom Rainer, caught my eye. In Alaska, it's no secret we're leading a national trend in low church attendance.

A recent Gallop study showed Alaska near the bottom in the attendance column, with sixth lowest numbers at 33 percent (along with Hawaii and Oregon). That's half the attendance rate of the top church attendance state, Mississippi, which has a 63 percent church attendance rate...

Chris Thompson

A rare event happened for Anchorage Catholics on March 24. Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York appeared at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church to address local Catholics and the public on "Three Challenges Facing Pope Francis and the Church." The church was packed with a crowd of about 700 people.

Cardinal Dolan said there were three challenges Pope Francis needs to address: Marriage and family, restoring the credibility and luster of the church and the relationship of the church and culture.

Early in his remarks, Cardinal Dolan humorously recounted Pope Francis' statement, made 11 days before in Rome, after a dinner celebrating his first year as Pope. Raising a glass of spumante in toast he said, with a twinkle of humor, "May God forgive you for what you did."...

Chris Thompson

Are the days of acceptable Christianity really over?

A truly remarkable speech was delivered at the 10th Annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on May 13. Robert P. George, McCormack professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, spoke to a mainly Catholic audience but his remarks could easily apply to other Christians, regardless of faith...

Chris Thompson

Passover was celebrated by local Jews last month, just before Christian Easter. I attended a Seder this year at Temple Beth Shalom. Each year they conduct a community Seder at their synagogue on East Northern Lights for Jews and non-Jews. A modest fee is charged to partake of their Seder, but no different than dining in a local restaurant. In fact, the food was prepared and served by a well-known local restaurant, Aladdin's...

Chris Thompson

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