Emerging Underground Ministries Roundtable

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?

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Andrew Jones launched his first internet space in 1997 and has been teaching on related issues for the past 20 years. He travels all the time but lives between Wellington, San Francisco and a hobbit home in Prague.


  • Cathryn says:

    Oh, so your back to being nice again… ahhhh i can breath and take you off “prayer watch” for attitude……… 😉
    How about “Budding Ministries”…. emerging/underground….
    or UNearthed (since they are budding and we are not of this world!) Just my 10 cents worth… (inflation you know)

  • 1st Attempt – GRUMP: Global Roundtable of Underground Ministries in Pomoland
    No…it uses the word “pomo” – we’re so beyond that word. Oh, and “grumpy” is not a fruit of the Spirit.
    Second attempt: I like the fact that the first roundtable was in German rather than English but would using the German name “Die Gefaehrten” be problematic in Poland – given the history of German expansionism and cultural imperialism in Europe? I don’t know – just asking.
    I looked up some Polish words for “fellowship” but they’re pretty clunky and cumbersome: WSPÓLNOTA, SOLIDARNOŚĆ, ZWARTOŚĆ, BRACTWO, POCZET. Interesting word “Solidarnosc” – the slogan of Lech Walesa’s Trade Union back in communist Poland. So probably a dead end there as well.
    3rd Attempt: I like Cathryn’s “Budding” idea – or some other nature reference like “Rhizome” or something. But maybe too technical – better to use the KISS Principle (“Keep It Simple, Stupid”). Surely there’s a good “nature” word that embodies the relationship between these varied ministries. Maybe a greek word.
    I do agree that avoiding the word “emerging” is a good idea. Too much baggage. I assume most of the conversation in this Roundtable event will be in English but I think it would be better to at least not to give it an English name.

  • andrew says:

    thanks Greg. We had a guy from Mexico at the roundtable in 2006. maybe you know him.
    it was great to have the germans name the last one and i just sent out a request to allow the Polish to come up with something in their own language.
    your ideas are all good!

  • I hope I don’t offend the Germans for my comment about them above. How can we hold today’s generation of Germans responsible for what their recent ancestors did to Europe? We should be beyond that now I hope. It is intriguing to see a truly international mix of people all coming together like this and laying aside their own “tribes'” histories for the sake of a greater Kingdom. I wish I could be there.
    One thing that fascinates me about Europe is the mix of so many languages and cultures. When you get all these varied “tribes” together in one place – the Germans, the Poles, the French, the Brits, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Italians, the Swiss, the Czechs, et al – is it expected that everything must be in English? I understand that English is to Europe (& the world) what Latin was centuries ago – the “lengua franca,” but I wonder how those who don’t speak English fit into the gathering.
    BTW – do you remember the Mexican person’s name or outfit s/he was representing?

  • Brad says:

    I also liked the German for the first roundtable. Also, have long-term interest in most of the kinds of groups participating in this even-more-global roundtable. But if the participant group keeps expanding, a new title may be more appropriate to acknowledge inclusion of a wider audience.
    So anyway, I put my thinking cap on and rattled around some of the many things I learned from studies of subcultures, alternative cultures, the underground/persecuted Church, etc., and came up with:
    “Der eMargenz.”
    It’s a blend-word from:
    * e-church – for virtual networks, which may be the next “invisible” group incorporated.
    * Emergence – for the sociological concept of how a subculture or counterculture forms and presents itself (not for the theological concept or ministry movement).
    * Margins – for ministries that function at the raw edges of society with the “leftover, lost, and shoved-aside” people who don’t seem to count except to God and hopefully to His children.
    * Marginalized – for those who are maligned, persecuted, and pushed to the edges or underground of their society by those in power.
    It brings together the various groups that make this a more global roundtable than just Western. It has a funky spelling that alternative cultures might enjoy, and a pseudo Indo-European language look, and using the article “der” instead of “die” implies the English word “dare.” And, to me at least, it hints at an idea of urgency without negative emergency.
    No term is perfect. But perhaps this one might do for this second roundtable, as the nature of the constituency mix has changed.

  • Dan Lowe says:

    If you wanted to get really marginal, you could go with whatever the indigenous people group of Poland called themselves. It’s probably something translated to “the people” or “my people.” You may have to get someone’s permission to do so.
    On another note, and hopefully without sounding presumptuous, are indigenous (host peoples) folks on the roster/invitation list for the event? There are quite a few “emerging underground” groups in North America; although, they’ve probably been “emerging” for the past 10 years or so…LOL…they’re here if you want to check them out:
    http://www.wiconi.com (Richard and Katherine Twiss)
    http://www.mypeopleinternational.com (Terry and Bev LeBlanc)
    http://www.eagleswingsministry.com (Randy and Edith Woodley)
    redeemingbear.blogspot.com (Roger and Tammy Boyer)
    Peace and thanks.

  • andrew says:

    hah!! i was talking with Richard Twiss this morning on facebook – we have known each other for 20 years. – yes – they have a lot in common and it would be great to mix a little.
    thanks for the links.

  • andrew says:

    ohh – the Polish representative suggested
    Kaleidoscope / Kalejdoskop

  • Brad says:

    Like Kaleidoscope/Kalejdoskop better than what my brain generated! Also sounds like Collide, which has a countecultural tinge to it without collision having to mean wreckage. Anyway, also appreciate the indigenous expansion …

  • andrew says:

    i liked it also and it ties into the 1735 Baroque ballroom we want to use for our celebration evening. part of what i sent back was this:
    did you say Kaleidoscope / Kalejdoskop??
    i love that. when i did research into Baroque period and the Baroque design like the Princes Hall, it spoke of a bringing together of all the recent art and architecture from classical, mannerist, renaissance, etc and displaying them in a harmonious way.
    baroque was about finding balance and harmony.
    the meaning of Kaleidoscope means “to look at a beautiful shape”
    (wikipedia) First attested 1817 in English, the word “kaleidoscope” derives from the Greek καλός (kalos), “beautiful”[1] + είδος (eidos), “shape”[2] + σκοπέω (scopeο), “to look at, to examine”[3][4].
    i wonder if this roundtable is to gather us from many nations and allow us to look at the shape of the body of Christ – to see its current beauty and how it is taking shape and pointing to a beautiful future.

  • I love that word “Kaleidoscope” and the fact that it translates pretty closely into many other languages (for example, “Calidoscopio” in Spanish, “Kaléidoscope” in French, “Kaleidoskop” in German…you get the idea). There’s a word for this but at the moment it escapes me!
    Of course words DO have meanings and baggage and this one wins on both – the literal meaning is good “to look at a beautiful shape” as well as the fact that the word has “good baggage” rather than negative connotations. Kudos to whoever suggested this word…we may have a winner.

  • Tom Cole says:

    Cheers for the reference Andrew! Here was I thinking that I might have been a passing memory of yours, but lo and behold – I’m here!
    1st – Let the Poles decide – it’s their territory in a way and everyone might be fed up with everything being Anglicised. Regardless of the name, everyone will call it a roundtable anyway. So of course, you could just call it that!
    2nd – It’s the Glorious Undead, London. Not being picky, but the omission makes quite a difference to the theological overtones. I’m no longer a leader there, but I’m sure the remaining church would like this pointed out!
    3rd – You’d be surprised (or maybe not) at how ‘un-Fundie’ a ‘Fundie’ can become in such a short space of time!
    Good to hear from you.

  • becky says:

    My money is on Kalejdoskop for the reasons Greg outlined – and I like that the Polish representative (the host country) suggested it.
    A few words that overall give me pause …
    Marginalized – seems too many folks feel they’ve been kicked to the curb in this whole discussion. Hence, my hunch is a word that calls them marginalized might be seen to some as having a bit of a victimhood connotation. I tend to prefer fringe over margin, as it reminds me of fringe festivals, which are always full of surprises and off-the-wall, out-of-the-box experiences.
    Emergence – Phyllis Tickle’s book “The Great Emergence” rocks – read it and if she comes to your town, try to see her if you can. Despite Phyllis’ amazing global perspective, some others seem to have tunnel vision and are marketing “emergence” in sort of a New Coke branding bit if you get my drift.

  • matybigfro says:

    Kalejdoskop – gets my vote as a onlooker anyway
    like it!

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