Yesterday (on Easter), I woke up (on purpose) before 5am. I had decided to experience Tampa Underground’s Easter gathering. Tampa Underground is a hub-and-spoke model of church, in particular microsites. There is a governing center (the hub) with a whole bunch of committed satellite sites (the spokes). It is different than the American standard model of denominations in that each microsite is very particular and small on purpose. This is in contrast to many American churches that are small and particular by chance, atrophy, directionlessness, or some leader issues.
Yet, the hub-and-spoke model created a very different (historically) expression of an Easter service. We were (predominately) on Zoom. Due to Zoom limitations, some people were watching on Facebook. What made this interesting is that there were people from Ireland, the Philippines, France, and the USA all leading different aspects of this worship gathering. Imagine that! An international/intercultural Easter gathering! Talk about turning the world’s systems upside down!
If there is one thing that church online does better than the physical gathering on Sundays (or whatever day your church gathers), is the ability to gather from around the globe. There is a special power when people outside of your immediate world speak into your life.
The standard model of church is able to do this, but the protection of one’s local context (often out of unrecognized fear) creates an atmosphere where this is much harder. The advantage of the hub-and-spoke model is an automatic decentralization that really allows for such a creative and expressive Easter (or any church) gathering.
So, while much of the church is still trying to figure out what the digital means for their local expression, there also needs to be a shift into thing what we can do with this technology. This time is a challenge. This time is also an opportunity!