The Underground Voice
"Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:4, Romans 10:18
Names matter. This is something that I think I know, but still I continue to discover more ways that it's deeply true. Our names — the things we are called — define us both in terms of potential, and limitations.
We call ourselves the Underground.
That has a subversive and radical meaning to it. It connects us to resistance movements like the underground railroad, and the underground church in history. It connects us to subway systems around the world, which provide critical but unseen infrastructure, defining and moving a city. But for me, one of the nuances of the name which most suits me is that something "underground" is something unseen.
This has developed into an intentional organizational shyness. I don't want to be known, and I am not eager for our organization to be known either. Some of those reasons are noble — and some are less so — but like everything, we should be humble enough to be lead by God into whatever place he calls us.
Our organizational shyness has kept us out of the national conversation (and the local one for that matter) about ecclesiology and mission. There is a vigorous dialogue happening in America around the themes of mission, the gospel, and the purpose of the church.
We have to this point stayed mostly out of that dialogue, and I personally routinely pass on opportunities to join in. In addition, most of my communication is to our people. I have a bias towards the local work we are doing, and I never want to jeopardize that for something as ethereal as “public debate”. For me, I am comfortable laying low.
But what about the Underground as a whole? When I think about you I begin to think about all of the heroic things you do (as Mike Breen says, “small deeds done with great love”). I also think about the collective learning we share, and the profoundly unique and radical voices that you each could have. I begin to wonder if we should engage a little more with the world outside our microchurches. I want the world to know you, and to hear your voice. I think of our staff, our directors, and our microchurch leaders who work tirelessly and selflessly to empower local and translocal initiatives everyday. I think of all the things they are learning, and the growing authority that they are walking in — and I am becoming more and more convinced that as an organization we should increase our engagement with the watching world.
Social media offers us a way to do that. I have been voraciously reading social media theory as I pray and wrestle with this new and impetuous medium. Every day, people are interacting with each other in unprecedented ways, and we should find a way to respond and enter in.
In the same way that Christians in history have made our voice heard in poetry and music, in public speaking and art, so too we should seize upon this medium for the cause we love, and the hope to which we have surrendered.
To this point, my own shyness has kept us from thinking critically about our use of social media, and so I've made a conscious shift and begun to develop our own philosophical framework for how and why we should engage this medium.
All that to say — You will see a change in that arena from us in the coming days and weeks. we are going to provide more content, sharing what we are learning, introducing you to people we think will edify you, and overall trying to do what we do: Empower people to do mission.
We are going to provide contributions from all our departments and we will be sharing content out of four intentions:
To invite input
Our hope is not just to direct content to you, but to invite your input as well. To help us think together, to problem solve and dialogue around the things that matter to us as missionaries.
We want to invite you to join us in this engagement. We are looking for contemplative activists who will blog, write articles, and develop resources that we can share. The Underground is a collective, not one person, or even a staff team. We are a community, and the breadth of our work and the depth of our people is what makes us unique and worth listening to. Our twitter handle is undergroundvox (voice) and that is what we need to develop — our voice. We are still Underground, no name change coming, but we are also the church… and the church — in all its beautiful manifestations — should be heard.
“And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent…faith comes from hearing...” Romans 10:14-16
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