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First Baptist Church of Marble Falls relaxes rules of tradition to make connections

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — Church tradition sets aside Sunday morning for worship. But what about people who can’t make it then? This was a question First Baptist Church of Marble Falls leaders thought about quite a bit.

The answer, they found, was to break with that tradition.

“Baseline is a new type of worship service at First Baptist,” said Tucker Edwards, the church’s minister of discipleship. “I’d describe it as a relaxed liturgy of worship.”

The service is 6:30 p.m. Sundays in the youth building. But organizers went further than just changing the worship time. They shook things up a bit in style as well. Edwards explained they wanted to create an atmosphere that allows folks to connect just a bit more than they might during traditional worship.

When people walk in, they don’t find pews lined up row after row. Instead, there are tables at which they sit down across from each other to encourage communication. And before the service even begins, people talk about their day, their week, good things and struggles.

“This will be a time of connection,” Edwards said.

The service follows with music and a scripture reading. Worship leaders will offer insight into the scripture followed by another song. Then, one of the worship leaders will give a sermon or a message.

“We’ll also be offering communion every week,” Edwards said. “And that’s a big difference for a Baptist church.”

One of the things workshop leaders noticed since Baseline began in April was the way people lingered after the service. Instead of shaking a few hands and offering a few greetings before heading home or to Sunday school, Edwards said people are spending more time visiting. Which was one of the goals of Baseline: giving people a chance to find that connection with each other and God.

“We wanted to create an avenue for people to experience the body of God corporately, but maybe not in the traditional setting,” Edwards said.

The setting is less formal than a typical Sunday. This has already encouraged some people who might otherwise skip the Sunday morning service for a number of reasons. Three people stand out in Edwards’ mind. He recalled a service at which a man and a woman in their 60s rolled a hospital bed into the back of the room. Their uncle lie in the bed. And all three took part in the worship.

The two wanted their uncle to experience worship, but they never felt comfortable rolling his bed into a regular service. Baseline felt like a great opportunity to do just that, Edwards explained.

“We have young families up to people in their 60s and 70s who attend,” Edwards said. “It’s a great mix.”

First Baptist Church of Marble Falls is located at 501 12th St. Go to www.fbcmf.org for more information.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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