THANK YOU for being a part of my life and being interested in what might be next for me. I wanted to give you a bit of an update on what has been happening as well as some new changes that are coming up.
While I have been a part of the UNDERGROUND for about seven years, it was almost 2 years ago that I took a staff role as an admin for the Executive Director, Brian, and have been able to work alongside him as we work to serve our entire network of missionaries.
The UNDERGROUND as a new form of church, expressing some of its most potent ideas and rekindling the fire of mission, empowerment, multi-ethnicity, and justice; now exists as a viable alternative for the Western church. The Tampa work is now more than 200 missionary communities/micro churches. The network of cities where we are serving and supporting likeminded people is now at 24 and growing.
In my role, I get to serve our growing Tampa staff team, our movement directors, and those interested in starting movements in their own cities. For each step of empowerment and growth I get to be a small part of it and experience the joy of seeing God worshiped in a new area.
As our story, values and unique approach has been a part of a new vision for the church in our time, we are trying to both steward that newfound influence as well as serve the growth of the kingdom in our generation. We now know that the church is capable of real impact and empowerment.
The first 10 years of the UNDERGROUND were very intentionally organizationally shy – we wanted to treat it as the experiment it was, a missional incubator where we could try and fail, and try again. Now that the system that was built (the Tampa archetype, national work, and international development) is thriving and in capable hands, we are asking ourselves what should be next. There are several areas that have come to mind but the more we dwell and pray about what is next, we feel like God is calling us to influence the next generation of church through helping transform existing churches into movements.
WHERE WE ARE GOING AND WHY
There are close to 180,000 small churches in the US who have less than 100 people, that is 60% of all our churches. That number in the UK is 75%. Very little is being done to help these churches see themselves in a new light and work from a position of strength instead of scarcity. We are starting to believe that these churches represent the best chance for social transformation. If we can find a way to walk them through the transition to a new operating system we could change the face of mission in the world.
The situation for the church in Europe is dire, and yet there are still strong, courageous, and curious people to work alongside. As far as contexts go, it is not the global south, which, while poor, offers what has to be considered a strong and growing church. It is not a context like the Middle East, which is almost completely unreached and there are precious few churches to work alongside. Europe represents the potential post christian future of the church in the US, as well as squandered resources which could serve the rest of the world. If we can find stories and strategies that can inspire growth, revitalization and missional traction there then we will also be offering preemptive data for the church in the US and initiating justice for the rest of the world.
Our team would need a hub/base from which to serve and learn in Europe. Even without declaring any interest in moving or working there, we already have leaders asking for our help in Ireland, England, Wales, France, Germany, Sweden and Denmark. We have chosen Dublin, Ireland because we believe we have the best opportunity for city impact there.
— A historic city wide missional network is just starting to form in the city and they have asked for our help.
— A missionary HUB building is being proposed in a prime location in the Dublin city center.— There are a considerable number of small churches eager to evolve to a more missional operating system.— Brian already has personal relationships with several small church leaders as well as an opportunity to work with the Methodist Church of Ireland.
All of this work will take more than one person to accomplish and I have been invited to be a part of the small team going. I feel really honored to be working alongside the community in Ireland and I’m excited to be included in this team.
Our team will need to raise $120,000 annually, including me, Brian, his wife Monica and 3 of their kids. In time we are hoping for Brian’s oldest daughter Jael and her husband Jonny to join us as well. My portion of that budget will need to increase to $30,000/year to compensate for the cost of living and include housing needs.
I don’t want to let that stop me from being able to say yes, so I am asking my friends for help. For my portion of the budget, I already have $7,000 committed so I am praying for the remaining $23,000.
My plan is to stay for 1-5 years with an evaluation at the end of year 1 and 3. To assess our effectiveness and impact.
Would you consider helping us take this next step?
From all of us, thank you for considering it.
Alisa, Brian, Monica, Jonny, Jael, Luke, Simeon and Skyler