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Chris Thompson

In 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther objected to issues promoted by the Roman Catholic Church. One was the sale of indulgences, freeing the holder from purgatory, and his belief the merits of the saints were without gospel foundation. From this bold beginning sprang the Protestant Reformation. Following Luther, John Calvin, a French theologian added his thoughts and ideas strengthening the Reformation. Lutheranism and Calvinism sprang from them...

Chris Thompson

Apps have revolutionized the ways we access information, play games, or use various utilities to change and improve our lives. Churches have adopted this rich technology. Alaska churches were not the earliest adopters of apps but have jumped in nevertheless.

In July 2008, over 800 apps were available for the iPhone. As of September, that number had exploded to 1.3 million. A much smaller number of apps are available for Android devices. Alaska churches with apps report the majority of their downloads are for the iPhone app. Using the search term “church” in Apple’s iPhone App store, 2,199 apps are found. Some are Bible apps, but the majority are apps for churches across the U.S...

Chris Thompson

What could be a better way to raise funds for a great cause than to dine, drink and sing hymns, all in a friendly atmosphere in a local restaurant? For the past two years, Christ Our Saviour Lutheran Church has offered this delightful fundraiser for the entire community at Mo’s O’Brady's in the Huffman Business Park. Immensely successful, each of the two events raised over $5,000 for Lutheran Social Services of Alaska , which distributes these and other funds on behalf of those in need in our community.

LSSA emphasizes four program areas: food pantry, direct assistance, Association for Stranded Rural Alaskans and emergency housing...

Chris Thompson

During the past decade I’ve aggressively visited churches in Alaska and beyond observing church treatment of guests and members. My ADN Church Visits blog has evaluated over 100 churches using four criteria: warm welcome, hospitality, music that’s not merely entertainment and well-delivered, Bible-based sermons...

Chris Thompson

Last week’s pictures Erik Hill took of Father Leo Walsh blessing a float plane flooded my mind with the many kinds of blessings we Alaskans are fortunate to have offered on our behalf, or things we consider important in our lives. This week I’ve been thinking about blessings, both those offered by clergy and the kind we bestow to others our lives may touch...

Chris Thompson

Over the course of hundreds of local church visits, I’ve seen many ways churches -- wittingly or unwittingly -- discourage guests, and possibly potential members, from returning. Whether you are shopping churches, or part of running them, it’s worth having a look at what makes or unmakes churches’ efforts to welcome guests.

Make greeters out of bulletin passers

It’s possible your bulletin passer, door side, doesn’t smile or say good morning to entering guests. Be sure first-contact people receive orientations on great ways to meet guests, including smiles, opening the door, and handing bulletins with positive comments like, “You’re in for a treat! The pastor has a beautiful message on grace today.”...

Chris Thompson

In the past several months I’ve visited four Orthodox churches in Anchorage representing three branches of Orthodox Christianity. The Orthodox faith traces its roots in Christianity back to apostolic (early church) times. Eastern and Western Christianity mutually separated in the 1 1th century.

Anchorage Orthodox churches represent Greek, Antiochian, and Russian Orthodox. It’s like eating ice cream. You can have many flavors of ice cream, but it’s ice cream nonetheless. I’ll attempt to describe some of the flavors of each in this column...

Chris Thompson

National surveys show that despite Americans’ love and great respect for the Bible, its reading and study frequency is down. The American Bible Society’s “State of the Bible” survey for 2014 showed the extent to which this is true. Even though 88 percent of American households own the Bible -- to the tune of 4.7 copies per household -- ownership is not enough. Only 39 percent of Americans read it once a week or more.

Some of this is being driven by a shift away from people believing that the Bible is sacred literature. In 2011, 86 percent of Americans believed the Bible to be sacred, but by 2014, that number had shifted downward to only 79 percent...

Chris Thompson

Are church websites tracking you?

An article by Adam Tanner in Forbes magazine online instantly got my attention. Titled “God Is Not The Only One Watching Over Your Church's Website” (July 28), it revealed astounding information about the extent to which many churches and other religious websites allow “trackers” to collect information about who visits them, and what they look at while there...

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

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