On The Move
It is hard to describe how important place is for community. Coffee shops, parks, the school we attend, and even our favorite restaurants make up the backdrop and in some ways, the fabric, of our memories. All of our best moments with God and each other, happen in places. When those places are dedicated to mission and to ministry, when we have repeated encounters with God and experiences of grace in the same space, those places quickly become sacred to us.
Our current HUB has become that kind of sacred space. Our tears have stained the floors and our laughter has filled the rooms of this building. We have solved problems, dreamed, heard God’s voice, and built the kingdom, all in this space.
But we did the same in the space we had before it.
And we will do the same in the next space.
What makes it all holy is not the space itself, but the invocation of God’s presence through the missional worship of our lives. For Paul “to the pure, all things are pure…”, and for Peter “you are like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…” We take ordinary, neutral things (like spaces), and because of his holy presence in us, an unseen transformation takes place. Warehouses, living rooms, maybe even malls, become our temple.
While we have, for some time now, been facing the very real possibility that we would have no physical space to inhabit as a community and from which to do our work/provide our services to all our microchurches; I have had to seriously consider that possibility.
Who are we without a HUB?
We are unchanged.
Fundamentally, we are exactly the same. The microchurch is what makes the UNDERGROUND what it is. As long as you are expressing the church in the place of mission, bringing light into dark places, we are alive and well. The movement is unchanged.
So, this journey has reminded me that while something tangible like a place to meet is a gift, it is not necessary for us to be the church. While it may make our work better, it does not define it. That reminder is both welcomed and important.
Given our very real limitations, I have had to consider our most important needs/uses for a HUB. For me that is our co-work space for missionaries, and a place for meeting, worship and training. If I could only have two things, I would want a large, co-work multi-purpose office space and one nice theater for classes and Crucible.
I am very happy to announce that I have agreed on a contract in the University Area to provide both of those spaces. They are offering us excellent space for very little money because they believe we are a part of their plans for the future. To see an area which is struggling in many ways, be engaged and improved.
We will be taking a 20,000 sf space that will serve as our office and co-work environment. In addition we will be taking a 6300 sf space for a what we hope to convert into a medium sized theater.
We are losing some functionality in our co-op space. Not having one big facility will mean running large conferences is no longer a viable service we can offer. We will no long have something like the banquet room and the classroom space available for microchurches to reserve. While the new space is not everything we currently have, I am very happy to be able to have met the two core needs (for the money we had to work with). It is very much a miracle.
This move will be both a challenge and blessing.
In the midst of all the negotiations, proposals, and appeals we have felt a growing sense that God is actually leading us north. I personally heard this word originally given to Ezekiel, “Then he said to me, ‘Son of man, look toward the north...’”
We have given 10 years to central Tampa, serving the people and missionaries of that part of the city. Still, we are called to the whole city (and beyond) and it is precisely that love for the rest of the city that is drawing us toward a new place. A move like this will not seem fashionable, but it is exactly the kind of move which can honor Jesus.
We will be moving to the most population dense area in Tampa. 63,000 cars will pass our location every day. We will be near USF and two major hospitals. We will be thrown into the life of an area (Suitcase City) that has beautiful people who are in great need. This move represents an act of love on our part to open our work and services to more of the city. It is my deepest hope that this move will bring growth to our movement and catalyse/support missionary work in one of the most important parts of our city.
We will give some things up, but we will also be gaining new ground and remembering our core purpose. The whole thing is going to test our ecclesiology and give us a chance to prove to all who are watching that the church is not contained or defined by a space. But when we inhabit them, we do make them special.
There is still so much work to do. I don’t want any of you to take your eyes off your own mission and calling. However, we may need your help in days and weeks to come.
- We need help moving. I am planning a big move on Friday, July 28th and Saturday, July 29th. If you can spare some time to help, please do.
- We need you to give. To be able to rebuild these important parts of our space we will need money. If you value the HUB and have benefited from it (or want others to continue to benefit from it) please consider making a one-time gift to help us rebuild the space into what we need.
- We need to pray. In all the logistics of moving we can easily forget the spiritual realities of relocating. The more pressing issue is how will we move our hearts and open our work up to a new place. We are going to need the Holy Spirit to introduce us to the right people, and help us come in humbly and looking for peace. We need for Him to go before us and to make the way straight. Even though it makes almost no sense for us practically, I want to dedicate the month of July to prayer. I want to ask for all of us to pray, fast and seek the face of God for what is next. What he is calling us into.
Sign up to help move, pray and give at tampaunderground.com/newhub