An Underground Network is a missional ecosystem designed to support and serve missionaries to plant microchurches.  


For the past decade, the Underground in Tampa has equipped leaders for God's mission, served the poor, and reached the unreachable. Everything we do is aimed to unlock the church's potential to create an empowering missional culture to send and serve lay-missionaries. And now we hope to pass on what we have learned. 

 

THE WORLD SUFFERS FROM ALMOST INSURMOUNTABLE PROBLEMS.

Every day it seems there are new expressions of darkness, despair, and distance from God and his grace.

 

In 1900 there were 28 churches for every 10,000 Americans.

Today there are 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans.

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3500 churches close each year.

80-85% of churches are on the downside of their life cycle.

Unchurched in the US has doubled from 1990-2004.

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How will we offer hope to the despair of the world?

As the world changes, the church is in decline. When the church is needed most, it is struggling to survive and to assert any influence. God has called people to bring good news and meet all of these needs, but in many cases, they are under-resourced, under-appreciated, and even sometimes blocked to live out that calling. These missional people are disconnected from each other, unable to collaborate in meaningful ways and at times competing for the same small pool of resources. They are at high risk of burnout and turnover.

How will we empower the called to serve and love those in need?

Our best people, who most clearly represent the future of the church and the hope of the kingdom, struggle to survive and continue in their essential work. They receive very little coaching, support, or even a community in the work they do. The church needs these people and these people need the church. And the lost and poor of the world desperately need them to find each other.

How will we inspire the church to rise into its fullest potential?

 

We believe we have discovered a way of doing church that inverts conventional notions about who can lead and that prioritizes mission over all other enterprise.  Rather than empower a few clergy who then recruit volunteers to reach spectators, our approach moves the emphasis to releasing missionaries through leadership development. The result is a form of church that revives mission, exponentially multiplying the impact of the church.



ECOSYSTEM MODEL

Our unique approach helps us generate a missional ecosystem where both high creativity (diversity) and relationship (family) thrive. The environment is uncontrolled yet balanced, wildly creative but connected and serves every missional person in our city. 

Our dream is to have Missional HUB's generating ecosystems to serve believers in cities around the globe, so anyone with a calling from Jesus could be served, no strings attached, with just a thirty minute drive. How do we reach the darkest corners of our cities?  We deploy and support missionaries to go and be the church of Jesus. 

After ten years of practice we have uncovered how to interface missional theory with organizational practice. It’s this unique paradigm that the Underground is gifting to the larger church by training and supporting apostolic leaders to plant missional HUB's. 

OUR STORY

1995

INTERVARSITY

We started as missionaries to the college campuses in Tampa through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. For ten years we faithfully reached college campuses while also planting incarnational communities in the inner-city.


DIVINE DISCERNMENT

While we produced many disciples on the campus, we increasingly became frustrated, as young, passionate, and mature leaders were stifled in the traditional church context. This frustration was turned to a compassionate call to be the bride of Christ through a year of prayer watches called "Fire by Night."

2006

THE FIFTY

From the frustrated disciples, we gathered a group of 50 potential missionaries weekly to study Revelation and started exploring what it would be like to be the church.

2007

THE PHILIPPINES

At the end of our Revelation study, we sent a team of 9 adults and 10 kids to be mentored in a nonwhite, nonwestern context. For nine months, they submitted to Filipino church planters who shaped our understanding of working with the poor and lost, and empowering others to be the church. Every week that team would gather to hammer out a blueprint of church for the Tampa context. Our basic structure, Manifesto Values, and conviction to serve people to hear their calling and help them try, all came during that time.

TODAY

TAMPA

The Underground in Tampa has equipped leaders for God's mission, served the poor, and reached the unreachable. Everything we do is aimed to unlock the church's potential to create an empowering missional culture to send and serve lay-missionaries. And now we hope to pass on what we have learned.
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