What Do We Mean By "The Underground"?
The easiest way to describe the "spiritual underground" is to reference the existence of the "overground" - a highly-visible, well-built network of Christian structures, institutions and organizations that house a myriad of legit and well-purposed endeavors.
In contrast, The Underground represents initiatives that are, for the most part, under-the-radar, bubbling-under-the-surface, incubating in the space where new ideas are conceived, where the next wave is formed.
Many of the stories in the Bible show God instigating new stuff "on the fringes", "on the outskirts of the established religious order."
The Underground is not about resistance to the overground. It is more about innovation than reaction.
In certain regions of the world, and in certain times in history, the contrast between the overground and the underground is more stark. We are in one of those seasons right now!!
Our movement is very much an underground movement. A healthy percentage of our constituent tribes are fairly informal, unorthodox, and forward thinking. They are mobilizing around the idea of God's people being "a kingdom of priests”, a collaborative community where everyone is has a part to play. In many cases, these communities are not incorporated as non-profits with a "tithes and offerings" infra-structure. Rather than being held together by a full-time staff, the glue is the quest to help every person in the community find their mission, and find a sustainable way to accomplish it. Leadership is authenticated by credible involvement in the real world, oftentimes in entrepreneurial ventures that are making a difference. Generosity is highly celebrated, but it is not always geared toward supporting a professional clergy. The emphasis is to invest in the nations, in the poor and in justice initiatives.
It goes without saying, that you can live in the overground and function with an underground spirit. Many in the movement live with one foot in both spaces, and live it well. If there is one "distinctive ingredient", it is the avoidance of cliche - not only in language but also in lifestyle.