Nashville is a unique city in that it is known as the "Buckle" of the Bible belt, yet it is an increasingly lost city. Three out of every four people you meet in this city have no connection with the local church, yet 95% of the people in Nashville called themselves "Christian" when asked about their religious affiliation in the 2010 U.S. Census. The most common person you meet in Nashville is an "Ex-Christian," a person who went to church as a child, but today have no connection and no interest.
Nashville is also a city of artists, musicians, and creatives. Jon Acuff calls it a city of "dreamers." People come here for a dream of something more, something bigger, something significant. But with all the dreams, most people never see them realized. Our city needs churches that will actively pursue these people with relentless and unlimited love and grace.
With that said, here are five reasons "Echo Church" is a good name for our church plant (pay attention to all of these!):
Reason #1: It reflects God's dreams.
One of the things Jesus talked most about, and the repeating theme throughout the book of Acts, is that of the "kingdom." A kingdom is a realm in which a king is able to see His mission come to life. Today, we don't understand the fullness of what Jesus was talking about when he talked about the kingdom because we don't fully understand what it would have been like to live in Jesus' day and age. But we do understand what it means to have dreams, and that is a close description of the kingdom concept. What if God's dream of bringing Heaven to Earth were to come true through the local Church? I am convinced that part of God's dream is that the good news of Jesus echoes throughout all parts of our society and world. Echo reflects God's dreams.
Reason #2: It reflects God's mission.
God is on mission in the world to make all things new. He doesn't end and He doesn't quit. God's mission repeats and persists when we most want to give up. God's mission is like an echo that comes back over and over again, constantly pursuing us even when we least expect it. Echo reflects God's mission.
Reason #3: It reflects our culture.
We live in a city that revolves around music, the arts, and stardom. Every barista, server, and even doctor really wants to have their name echo into the world. Their desire to thrive in an audio world of music and reverberating sensationalism is constantly lingering in the back of their minds, even when in an entirely different career. I was just talking to a guy a couple nights ago who is the GM of a popular restaurant in town. His "real" dream? To be a successful singer/songwriter. Echo reflects our culture.
Reason #4: It reflects our experience.
The story of the prodigal son describes a young man who left home, only to return when he realized that he couldn't do it on his own. He tried it his way, but the Father's love was always there in the back of his mind, and he just couldn't let it go. We all want to be home, to rest in the arms of grace. Even if we haven't experienced what "home" is really like, we long for it. Our experience as Christ followers tells us that even when we were "far from God," God was not far from us. His grace was echoing in our hearts and never stopped, even when we tried to push it to the farthest recesses of our being. We have all experienced the echo of God's grace. It's why we call ourselves Christ followers in the first place. Echo reflects our experience.
Reason #5: It reflects our calling.
When Jesus commanded his disciples to go into all the world, he commissioned them and blessed them as "sent" people. Being a sent people means going outside the walls of the local church and living out the way of Jesus in all of the places we live, work, and play. This is what we mean by living "incarnationally." It means that Jesus shines through us and in us. Our calling is the live "sent" and spark movements in our world that reverberate and become unstoppable because we have chosen to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. Echo reflects our calling.