The last two months have been unexpected to say the least. If you would have told me at the beginning of this year that the world was on the verge of experiencing a disruption of this magnitude, I would have never believed you, but here we are. This season has been filled with both challenges and blessings, and there is no other group of people I would rather face this moment with than you.
Although this season has felt abnormal in many ways, I have been blown away by the ways in which our church family has creatively and consistently leaned into our mission of loving God, each other, and the world around us. Even though this next season will be different than we imagined, we truly believe God is going to do great things in us and through us in the weeks and months ahead.
Now that our city has officially entered into Phase 1 of the Mayor’s Roadmap for Re-Opening, the Ethos Elders and Direction Team want to share an update about our church’s plans for the weeks ahead.
Is Nashville re-opening good news for our church?
Yes, let’s start with some great news. For those of you that are healthy and able, we can begin gathering in groups of 10 or less starting now. Phase 1 of Mayor Cooper’s Guidelines for Churches and Religious Organizations permits churches to meet in small groups as long as individuals are healthy and able. If you comfortable and/or able, gather with your house church or friend group in groups of 10 or less to:
Worship & participate with the Sunday Live Stream each week at 10am.
Enjoy fellowship, worship, Bible study, and service opportunities during the week.
When will our larger, in-person Sunday worship gatherings resume?
So let’s deal with the question you might be asking — when can we gather in-person at our venues for worship on Sundays? The short answer is we still don’t know. Although the signs of Nashville re-opening are very promising, there are several factors that still make it difficult for us to know exactly when we will be able to gather in-person for large, Sunday worship gatherings at our current venues.
What factors are impacting large, in-person Sunday gatherings?
You might notice over the next several weeks that some churches in Davidson County will resume larger, in-person Sunday worship gatherings while other churches like Ethos will have to wait a bit longer. There are a few specific factors that will keep our church family from being one of the first churches to resume large, in-person Sunday gatherings.
Number of People
One of the primary factors that will delay our ability to meet in large, in-person gatherings on Sundays is simply the large number of people that regularly worship with us on a typical Sunday. Larger churches will not be cleared to meet in-person as quickly as small and mid-size congregations.
Size of Our Venues
Another factor that will delay large, in-person gatherings is the square footage of our venues in relationship to the number of people who typically gather for worship each Sunday. Mayor Cooper’s current guidelines for churches only permit 1 person for every 200 square feet of useable space. Practically speaking, this means we are only allowed to host roughly 40 people at a time in the Cannery and at Marathon and 10 people at a time in the Ruby until this restriction is lifted.
Potentially Distracting Requirements
Finally, there are a number of health requirements (i.e. required face masks in certain phases, seating limitations, regulations on interpersonal engagement, etc.) that although they are beneficial to public health, they are not conducive for moments of transformative worship. Although we are eager to gather again for large, in-person worship gatherings, we want to wait until we are able to gather in a way that is warm, personal, and true to what we believe God has invited us to embody together.
How will the Ethos Leadership Team determine when and how we can gather again for large, in-person worship gatherings?
We will seek Jesus' will first.
Our first priority is to listen to and follow Jesus — not just in this season, but in every season of our life with him. We are actively praying and seeking wisdom from Jesus, our chief shepherd, about when and how to gather in larger ways in the weeks and months ahead.
We will seek to honor our governing authorities.
We want to obey the scriptures by honoring our state/city governing authorities as long as their guidelines don’t conflict with the ways of Jesus. For the time being, this means we will work hard to honor the guidelines given to us by our local and state leaders. We have been in regular conversation with our city leaders, and we will continue to meet with them regularly as we make plans to gather in-person on Sundays in the weeks and months ahead.
We will make choices based on the mission Jesus has given our church family.
If this includes resuming our large, in-person gatherings in the coming weeks, then praise God — we will do just that! But if we need to meet in smaller, more agile spaces and gatherings for the next few weeks or longer to best accomplish Jesus’ mission, then praise God — we will do just that! God’s mission has never been limited by the size of a worship gathering, and we are confident He is leading the way during this unusual season.
So what will Ethos Church look like in the immediate future?
You have probably noticed that things are constantly changing in the midst of this unusual season. Although we don’t know what the future holds, we do have a strong sense of what the next 4 weeks will look like, and we are praying and planning diligently for the weeks and months beyond that.
Here is what you can expect from mid-May to mid-June:
Sunday Worship Gatherings Live & Online at 10am
We will continue to gather live and online at 10am each Sunday at www.ethoschurch.org/live.
Opportunities to Gather in Smaller Groups for Worship & Fellowship
We will begin immediately gathering in groups of 10 or less for Sunday worship, as well as fellowship and prayer throughout the week. Touch base with your house church leaders regarding plans for your particular house church, or get a group of your friends together to worship along with our live stream each Sunday.
Practical Opportunities to Grow with Others Online
We will continue to offer practical, Spirit-led opportunities to grow as a disciple of Jesus through our online grow classes. If you have not joined a Grow Class, it is not too late to sign up at grow.ethoschurch.org. In addition to our current class offerings, new classes will begin in June as well.
Opportunities to Gather in Mid-Size Groups in the Weeks Ahead
Our ministry team is currently exploring a wide variety of creative options for gathering in mid-size groups (i.e. approximately 50 people or so) for worship and fellowship as the restrictions continue to ease up a bit. Stay tuned for more details.
Please be praying for the leaders of our church as we seek God’s will in this season. In the meantime, let’s continue to be the church described in Acts 2: a people filled by the Holy Spirit, devoted to the Word, prayer, fellowship, and the mission of Jesus.
We love you,
on behalf of the Ethos Elders & Direction Team