Today I am bouncing emails between a team of people who are throwing a big party for leaders of the "underground emerging" world. We are wondering about the appropriateness of the name. In 2006, we called it "Die Gefaehrten" [German for The Fellowship] and referred to it as the "First Global Roundtable of Underground Emerging Ministries". We had over 60 leaders from 27 countries and we had a blast at Freakstock Festival - hosted by the Jesus Freaks who treated us like royalty. This year, there should be more leaders and more countries represented and we will gather at SLOT Festival in Poland in July. But can we use the same name or not?
"Underground"points to the counter-culture nature of the ministries involved, most of which are urban and work among the poor, marginalized, alternative cultures. Budgets are tiny and buildings are scarce. Some of the churches are underground in the sense of being invisible [either online, invisible, or under the mainstream Christianity's radar] , some are clearly connected to underground postmodern culture [goth/emo/punk/hardcore/hippie/etc] and some are underground because ministry takes place in countries that give them are very hard time for being there. We expect more people from the Middle East this year and this is the case for them indeed, but the word is used differently among us.
"Emerging" is a word that has been dragged through the barbed wire fence in recent months and we might want to rethink that term as well. In this circle, it points mainly to the newness of the movements and perhaps the new forms that are arising, and their place within the larger emerging church movement that is very diverse. Theologically, this is a very conservative group. In fact, I suspect that the uber-Gothic Tom Cole (Glorious Undead) might even be a FUNDIE [hi Tom - hope Australia doesn't give you a suntan!] and there are a few old skool Pentecostals in the mix as well.
So, about that name?