Below I have addressed some commonly asked questions.
Why has our attendance nearly doubled in the last 3 weeks?
This is a wonderful issue, that has several obvious reasons. First, you guys did a great job of inviting your friends to church this summer. You may not have realized, but our church nearly doubled between the middle of May and the end of July. Second, college students are back. College students are a huge part of our church family, and since the college years are some of the most important years in a person's spiritual formation, I pray we reach more college students this year than ever before. Third, summer schedules are crazy which means it is rare that our entire church family is ever together in the summer. Now that vacation schedules are slowing down, we will find that our church is a little larger than most of us realized.
Why does this matter?
Most Christians would consider a crowded room a wonderful thing. However, for those who have not been to church in a long time, or who have never been to church it can be quite intimidating. The last thing we want is for someone to show up and struggle trying to find a place to sit. Since Ethos longs to be a place where non-Christians can explore questions about God in a safe environment, we want to make sure we remove any unnecessary barriers between people and Jesus. We would never think of inviting someone over to our home for dinner if we didn't have a place for them to sit at our table. Since we expect you to invite your friends each week, we are doing our best to make sure they have a place at the table beside you.
What is the plan?
Beginning, Sunday September 13th we will offer two Sunday Night Worship Gatherings (5 pm and 7 pm). Both worship gatherings will be identical. Our goal will be to create a sense of community and belonging among the people at each worship gathering. For example, our hope is that those who attend the 5 pm worship gathering will serve, participate in House Churches, and build deep friendships with the other people at the 5 pm Service. This will allow us to build deeper friendships while reaching more people for Christ. As our church grows, our prayer is that our relationships will grow in depth as well.
This will be temporary.
Even as I write this blog outlining this plan, I am confident that it is only a temporary solution. I am convinced that when Jesus is drawing people to himself, and when the Spirit of God is pursuing hearts ... the Kingdom of God will expand. Who knows what that timing will be, but we must be willing to adapt. If you want to get a great picture of a church that was willing to adapt just read the first few chapters of Acts. Don't you know the people freaking out as the kingdom grew from 12 to 120 to 3,000, to 10,000 in a few short years. Who knows what God is planning to do with our meager efforts, but I know we must be flexible.
The only thing that will remain constant at Ethos Church is the Gospel. Everything else is up for grabs as we continue to join God on this crazy journey.
Why don't we look for another venue?
This is a little more difficult than it seems. First, the Cannery is giving us a fantastic deal. To lease a venue comparable to The Cannery would cost us much more. We would rather spend our money helping other people, so the lower the overhead the better. Todd, Drew, John, and the rest of the Crew at the Cannery have been fantastic to work with. We could not ask for more gracious host. Second, the Cannery gives us 400 Free Parking Spaces each week (this saves the church $1200 per week, since most places charge $3 per car). Third, our desire is to be a community of faith that bridges the gap between the urban poor and the urban affluent. This means we need a venue that is within walking distance for those that don't own cars, and is adequately situated to minister to those that live in downtown Nashville. Â Four, our desire is to meet in a location that is non-threatening to those that are not comfortable in a traditional church setting. Meeting in a bar helps us erase some of the barriers we have created in traditional church settings.
Why don't we start another church in another location?
Although this is a part of our larger vision as a church, we quite simply are not ready to make this move yet. First, we do not have the financial resources to cover the overhead of starting another location. Second, we do not have the leadership to start another church in another location just yet. Third, we do not have the volunteer base to sustain another church location at this time.
If we are out of space, why keep reaching out?
Because Jesus didn't command us to "go into the world making disciples until we were out of space." He commanded us to continually go, to continually reach, to continually disciple, to continually baptize, to continually meet needs, serve the community, search for the lost, bind up the injured, until he returns. I'm pretty sure none of you asked yourself this last question, but in case you were tempted I thought I'd go ahead and answer it.
I love you guys. Thanks for being on mission with us.