and 6 other innovative changes on the horizon at the Underground.
The Underground Movement is made of two things: the Underground church and the Underground nonprofit. The mandate of the Underground church is to be a grassroots movement of microchurches led by called and qualified elders who listen to Jesus and reach the city. The mandate of the Underground nonprofit is to empower and serve microchurch leaders however they need help, using every resource at our disposal.
The nonprofit has dozens of ideas of new ways to inspire more leaders to listen to Jesus for calling, and support them to persevere the challenges and storms of microchurch life, but our organizational capacity is always capped. Considering the scope of our current work and aspirations, we are a remarkably small team with remarkably few resources. This is precisely why if a program or service we offer diminishes in effectively serving microchurch leaders, we simply cannot afford to keep offering it. No program or service is institutionalized, timeless, or sacred. We stay lean and agile as we respond real time to the complex and ever changing needs of the priesthood of all believers across Tampa, who are following Jesus in mission to an ever changing world.
Here are six of the more significant changes on the horizon for our movement:
- 8 Core Sundays in 2020, Starting in February.
For over a decade, our weekly Sunday morning gatherings have been a space for our family of leaders and microchurches to gather for inspiration, connection with one another, and most importantly to encounter Jesus. We all have fond memories of Jesus using our Sunday morning gatherings to spark catalytic moments on our missionary journey.
Yet, our most recent data is showing that less than 35% of our leadership community is being meaningfully served by these gatherings, and the amount of people coming on Sunday who are not actually part of a microchurch is growing to nearly half the room. Some people are shocked that we would take a step back from these vibrant gatherings when people are still being deeply impacted by the worship and teaching. But that isn’t evidence of an organizational “win”, it’s actually a significant threat of mission drift. If people are looking for a church and stumble into our Sunday morning leadership gathering, they have not actually found a church yet, and they are certainly not part of the Underground because they attend that program. We care about these people, and celebrate what God is doing in their life, but they are not our mandate from God and do not factor into the discernment of the most effective use of our organizational time, money, and attention.
Our mandate is microchurches and leaders, and if the majority of them are not being helped by a service, we shut it down to devote our work to things they do need. It’s that simple. But our movement of leaders still needs multiple avenues to convene with one another, and 8 different Core Sundays through the year (starting in February) are one way we are excited to do that. As for the rest of those Sunday’s, I’m excited to see what microchurches committed to unchurched people can do with Sunday morning brunch at their disposal.
Sunday morning gathering dates in 2020, each with a unique focus to be announced as they come:
- January 5th, 12th, 19th, 26th (still weekly until February)
- February 2nd
- March 15th
- April 12th
- May 31st
- August 2nd
- September 13th
- November 8th
- December 20th
2. House Churches as Movement Front Door
Over the last ten years, we slowly leaned more and more on Sunday morning gatherings as a “front door” or “onramp” into the Underground movement. It was the easiest starting point for new people to connect with microchurches, or be inspired to start their own. Taking away Sunday morning gatherings means we will recover what is a true and better front door to the movement anyway: house churches. If someone finds us online or through social media, is new to Tampa or just heard of us, and reaches out to learn more or connect with us, the first step in connection will be a dozen living rooms all over the city.
3. Monthly Prayer Room for All Leaders
Our rhythm of leadership meetings will still focus on Mondays, and the 2nd Monday of every month will be a prayer room space for leaders scattered all over the city to gather for an undetermined amount of time to beg and groan in desperation for God to fill the city with his glory in every way, to contest every idol and drive out every fear. It will be an important rhythm for our community to constantly remember our own powerlessness in the flesh, the futility of our best ideas and strategies, and our ultimate need for God’s presence, power and love.
4. New Ministry Hub
If the Underground Hub is an important piece to the life of your microchurch, for the sake of your planning we want to let you know now that we will be moving at some point in summer 2020. We have a handful of exciting future hub possibilities, but each is so different we are waiting and listening to Jesus about the trajectory of our movement and what He wants us to do. For now, don’t plan anything in the fall that requires the hub, and start stretching your back and your hamstrings for the upcoming team effort of moving together. [If this paragraph is triggering for anyone due to difficult repressed memories of our last move, you can contact the Pastoral Care and Counseling Service.]
5. Missionary Toolkit
We have been constantly developing new content and resources for training and leadership development for 15 years, all dumped into a bottomless free resource archive on the website. It’s a goldmine of wisdom and tools, but at this point is nearly unusable due to the impossible task of organizing it well and the paralysis of choice even if it was organized. Yet after all these years, we’ve learned a handful of those resources are transcendently critical. Transcendent because they are useful to any leader from any context with any calling, and critical because they represent make-or-break areas of missional leadership. We are elevating these 10 top shelf resources as a toolkit, developing and packaging them in ways that are most useful to leaders, and integrating them into all of our movement services. You can learn more here.
6. Underground Open
Come create with us February 7–8. Click here to learn more and register.
For over a decade I’ve hungered for a community just like you. It is never ending joy to be part of this remnant of wild, radical, set apart people consumed by our common hunger for the Kingdom to come on earth as it is in heaven.