02 September 2015

An Update on the LECTIO Worship Experience



A few months ago we began a new worshiping community at Custer Road: Lectio, a teaching service. The purpose of this service was to grow people spiritually through worship and learning. We would offer a simple, focused approach to worship: sermons would include more content, music (piano accompaniment only) would serve as the sort of "glue" of the service, and layfolk would have many opportunities to serve and lead in worship, including as a liturgist or a communion server (the Lord's Supper is offered every week). We broke an important rule for starting new opportunities in churches-- we didn't launch in September or January, but June. As the chart below shows, we confronted the typical "summer swoon" of worship attendance head on:

After a great first two Sundays, July knocked us back. But we came back stronger in August! Of the first twelve Sundays of Lectio, I preached eleven (the other Sunday, July 19, I preached in the Sanctuary or as I call it, "Big Church"). That was the Field of Dreams sermon.

The response to Lectio has been overwhelmingly positive. There was a sentiment felt by some in the church that a new worship service offered at the same hour(s) as the Sanctuary services would be divisive. I do not believe that is the case; folk come to this service because they appreciate the different format, not because it is better than another opportunity. Lectio has even become something of a "destination service;" several Sunday school classes that meet at 9:00 have visited us on a sort of field trip. Your group is more than welcome!

Much of Lectio's summer success is due to Charlie Blake, a senior at Baylor, who voluntarily played nearly every Sunday of his vacation for us. After Charlie returned to school, Nancy Laine, a former organist at a United Methodist Church in the San Antonio area and a recent Dallas transplant, filled in while we sought a permanent pianist. I am pleased and very excited to say we found her: Xiao Wang, originally from China and currently working on a doctorate in piano at UNT, will begin playing for us September 13. She has played in concerts and competitions on four continents. Come by next Sunday and welcome her to Custer Road!

Assuming the attendance pattern holds, once Lectio consistently hits the 90-100+ mark, we will duplicate the service and offer it at the 10:30 hour as well, perhaps as early as Advent later this year. To make that happen, we need your help: if you attend Lectio regularly, share your experiences and invite others! If you've been curious but haven't checked out a service yet, stop by. Most of the lessons we are exploring this fall come from the Gospel of Mark and epistles like James and Hebrews. We're exploring the nature of Christian behavior and discipleship.

Thank you to everyone who has made this experiment successful (I hesitate to use that word because success in ministry is quantified in many other ways beyond numbers). Thanks especially to those who responded to the invitation to be planted seeds, participating in a different, unfamiliar worship service to help it sprout into something meaningful. Many of you have stuck to Lectio, making it your permanent home for worshiping God, and we are grateful! My hope for Lectio, and really for every ministry at Custer Road, is that it grows into a vehicle for more and more folk to dive deeper into their relationship with Jesus Christ.