What Do We Mean By The “Underground”?
The easiest way to describe the "spiritual underground" is to reference the "overground"—that is, the visible network of Christian institutions and organizations.
By contrast, the underground is where new ideas percolate.
Revival often starts in the underground, and many stories in the Bible show God instigating new stuff "on the fringes” or "on the outskirts of the established religious order." For example, John the Baptist ate locusts and lived in the desert. He was radical in every sense of the word.
Even so, the underground is not about reaction or resistance to the overground. The underground is all about innovation!
In certain regions of the world, and at certain times in history, the contrast between the overground and the underground becomes stark, pronounced.
We are in such a season.
A Few Observations
Our movement is very much an underground movement. A large percentage of our constituent tribes are fairly informal, unorthodox, and forward thinking.
What they have in common is a desire to see God's people be "a kingdom of priests,” a collaborative community where everyone is has a part to play.
In many cases, these communities are not incorporated as nonprofits with a "tithes and offering" infrastructure. Neither do they have full-time staff.
The glue is the quest to help every person in the community find his or her mission and to make this process sustainable.
The vast majority of these believers hold some kind of job “in the real world,” and they often lean toward entrepreneurship and own their own businesses.
They celebrate and practice generosity. They are more likely to invest in the nations, in the poor, and in justice initiatives than they are to support professional clergy.
It goes without saying that you can live in the overground yet have an underground spirit. Many citizens of our underground world live in that tension, and they live it well.
If the underground has only one "distinctive ingredient," it is the avoidance of stereotypes and cliches—not only in language but also in lifestyle.