City Guide: Nashville

Matthew ThompsonBy Matthew ThompsonJuly 18, 201917 Minutes

Over the last few years, Nashville has become one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. With a rich economy and thriving music scene, Nashville brings the allure of a dream without all the pressure and expectations of big city living. Rich in southern hospitality and comforting in the way of a laid back culture, people often come to Nashville thinking they’re going to achieve a deeper sense of fulfillment. But for many, following Jesus isn’t a high priority in that equation.  Since Nashville is in the Bible Belt, many have been exposed to church over the years and religiosity has contributed to a sense of spiritual apathy in the city. People have developed preconceived notions of the church, so there isn’t much interest in being a part of it. But over the last five years, a paradigm shift is happening all over the city. New churches are breaking down walls to help this generation experience a powerful encounter with Jesus. More people are becoming open and finding a true sense of fulfillment in an unexpected place.

Churches in Nashville

A movement born out of a basement

With a city full of transients, Pastors Alex and Henry Seeley saw a need for people to come together in authentic community and experience Jesus after they moved to Nashville in 2012. They decided to start hosting gatherings in their basement on Tuesday nights to worship and build community. Unexpectedly, they outgrew that space in just a few months. Over the course of the next couple years, their community kept growing as more and more people started sowing into the culture they were building.

There’s no such thing as a perfect church, but Belonging Co is one of the most special communities we’ve seen across the country. Their services are vibrant and full of life, giving you an opportunity to encounter God through powerful preaching and passionate worship. We had the opportunity to spend time with Pastors Alex and Henry while we were in town and they are the same people behind the scenes that you see on the stage. Incredibly kind and hospitable, they have a passion for helping this generation meet Jesus in ways they’ve never experienced before. They also don’t water down the Bible. They’ve very vocal about preaching all aspects of scripture, which will give you a real opportunity to learn and grow.

From the mission field to planting roots in East Nashville

When Pastor Lyle Phillips moved over from Kentucky, it wasn’t with the intent of building a church. As a former missionary, his vision was to plant a missions base of the Christian organization, Iris Global. But a small community gave way to worship nights and eventually blossomed into the first Legacy Church service in East Nashville in January of 2016. Their unexpected rise was built upon one of their core values, family. Not only do they believe that church should feel like a home, but that a healthy church should function like a family.

Now standing at 400+ members, Legacy has created an atmosphere for you to experience the presence of God in ways you never have before. One member put it this way, “This family has such an open space for God to move! I love their heart for God, this city, and the world.” They are all about helping you experience freedom during worship, giving you space to be yourself, where the truest version of you comes forward.

Worship experience at Legacy Nashville

Pastor Lyle’s story is pretty incredible. After a life filled with drug abuse and alcohol, he met Jesus at age 21 and went on to found Mercy29, an organization built around helping rescue children from human trafficking. All of this plays into his passion for Legacy to be a place defined by authenticity. Legacy is building a culture where the masks come off and people can get to know you as you really are.  As a result, Legacy is building authentic followers of Christ, that not only profess Jesus by name, but reflect him in their actions. Continuing on this thread, Pastor Lyle had a talk on influencers recently and it empowered the church to become leaders by action when it comes to how we portray ourselves to others.

Working for the renewal of Nashville

Six years ago, a small group of people came to Nashville to start Church of the City. Led by Pastor Darren Whitehead, they had a vision to plant the kind of church where God’s presence could be felt all throughout the city and the neighborhoods. What’s materialized has far exceeded their wildest expectations, as the church has grown into four diverse communities that are spread across East Nashville, Sylvan Park, Spring Hill and Franklin. Each community is incredibly different, reflecting the neighborhood they’re in.

If there’s one word that defines the Church of the City community, it’s hunger. With deep biblical teaching and intimate worship, the church is creating a space for people to become disciples of Jesus, without falling into a routine of casual Christianity. One member said the teachings have made their ability to interpret and relate to the Bible “so much easier now,” while another called the congregation “authentic, honest and upbeat”. Church of the City is full of real people going through everyday life together. The creative team has captured many of these people’s stories over the years. Scroll through some of the stories below.

An infusion of Zeal into Nashville

In 2015, Zeal Church started in Nashville as a just small bible study in a living room. Over the next couple years, they built a high passion environment that also gave people practical steps to grow in their faith. Their vision is to reach all people -- the disciple, the unbeliever and everything in-between. A radical set of events moved them from a living room to a temporary space to eventually purchasing their own building in Sylvan Park in 2018. Listen in as Pastor JD Ost talks about that experience below.

Community is the heartbeat of Zeal Church. If you decide to make this your church home, you’ll likely find your crew. Over 88% of their members attend a small group throughout the week, which was one of the highest percentages we’ve seen in our travels across the country. Beyond the number, it means they’re creating a space for the whole church to celebrate life, that supports each other through the good, the bad and even the ugly.

Finding your church home

If there’s one common thread that we saw throughout our time in Nashville, it’s that God is reviving his church. Almost all the churches we have featured on Mighty Pursuit had an incredible movement happen that was completely unexpected. There wasn’t an agenda and that’s often when the most beautiful things happen, organically.

Browse churches in Nashville