Underground Church

What If the Church Truly Empowered People to Engage in God's Mission?

Something extraordinary has been happening in Tampa, Florida. A new expression of the church has been quietly growing. It's something of an experiment, but over the last ten years the church has been validating its ideas with sustained and growing results. At The Underground, being the church is not focused around a weekly gathering or church programs. It's about empowering individuals to respond to God's call to ministry and mission, especially to the poor and disadvantaged in our midst.

While many churches talk about discerning calling and engaging in mission, very few are structured to make this their ministry focus. Underground Church is a new vision for the church rooted in its biblical mission to share the love of God and serve the poor. Sanders explores how to make structural changes, how to think about leadership, how to fund ministries, and how to truly engage people in God's mission. Filled with creative insights, he explains what it means to center the mission of the church around the callings of individuals to outward ministry - whether that involves leading Bible studies in the workplace, feeding the homeless, or working to free women and children from sex trafficking.

This book will both tell the inspiring story of a church that is rethinking what church looks like while also outlining and uncovering the principles that transfer for every church and Christian community that hopes for more. It's the true story of a 10-year experiment that unpacks the possibilities of a church structured and streamlined for mission.

What is the Underground?


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Brian is the founder and Executive Director of the Underground Network. A serial entrepreneur, Brian has helped to start hundreds of missional enterprises, including churches, nonprofits, and businesses all over the world. Based in Tampa, Florida, the Underground now has movement hubs in thirteen cities and five countries.

Brian holds a degree in communication from the University of Florida, a Masters Degree from the University of South Florida in Religious Studies, and a Masters Degree in Applied Theology from Spurgeon’s College. Brian has lived with his wife and six children in intentional community in the inner-city for more than twenty years, embodying the ideas that drive him.

Hear what Brian has to say about the Underground



"In The Underground Church, Brian Sanders brings above ground valuable lessons learned from leading a church that is solely focused on mobilizing people to reach the lost and serve the poor. If you want to discover a new framework for church that doesn’t focus on running programs, but on equipping people – this book is a must read!"

– Dave Ferguson, Author, Hero Maker


"This is not your every-day blustery, grandiloquent, church planter saga. Honestly I have heard too many of those. The UNDERGROUND story is raw and honest— the real deal. Brian Sanders eloquently teaches the reader what it means to plant a church, to flail, flounder, and then to forge a beautiful new narrative of what it can mean become the Church."

– Linda Bergquist, NAMB church planting catalyst, co-author Church Turned Inside Out and The Wholehearted Church Planter


"If I lived in Tampa I'd join Underground. Seriously. It's the most exciting and thoroughly missional church I've encountered on my travels. The whole missional thing isn't a theory or a conversation or even a paradigm for those guys. It's a way of life!"

– Michael Frost, Author, The Shaping of Things to Come

"The Underground is proof that being led by the Spirit has always looked and felt like creative, innovative experimentation throughout church history. As the Spirit weaves in and out of people's gifting and calling, the result is a diverse, empowered church that becomes an underground city transforming network."

– Peyton Jones, Author, Reaching the Unreached


"What the church in the west needs more than any single thing is brave stories. Theories, methods, and old church metrics run amok, but stories blow through the paralysis of paradigms and give us practices for a new day and a new church. Whenever anyone asks me what I’ve seen in America that is truly missional church, I always point them to the story in Tampa called The Underground. For years, I've been trying to get Brian to share their story and am thrilled that they have tried, tested, and now are willing to extend their story into the national conversation."

– Hugh Halter, US Director of Forge America


"As I read Underground Church, my reaction was “This is good!” until I came to a chapter which mentions someone we know in Alabama. Until that point, I had not realized our friend was part of the same network of churches as the author, with the same vision and guiding principles as this book enumerates. Then my reaction was, “So THIS is what the book is talking about.” I had visited our friend’s church in inner city Birmingham a few years ago and been totally blessed and impressed by the work they were doing. What we experienced in the church in Birmingham was outstanding—people living for Jesus in the heart of the inner city with all the problems associated with the many forms of social and financial poverty—starting businesses and a coffee shop that employed local people, working with kids, involving in the community in every way possible. The principles this book discusses have an impact. They work in practice. They extend the Kingdom. I highly recommend it!"

– Felicity Dale, cofounder, House2House and author An Army of Ordinary People