Hero Maker Practice 4: Gift Activating

Underground leader Brian Sanders unpacks the premise and impact of the thriving microchurch network in Tampa, Florida

Lindy Lowry

Brian Sanders joins Exponential President Dave Ferguson for the fifth session in the Hero Maker podcast series as we look at the fourth essential practice in the hero-making process: Gift Activating.

Brian serves as the founder and executive director of the Underground, a family of lay-led microchurches based in Tampa, Florida. As a leader bent on the premise that the church is people and mission, he is obsessed with helping people find the calling and assignment God has given them. He and the Underground are gift activators.

An Interview with Dave Ferguson & Brian Sanders on gift activating

In this podcast, Brian shares the dynamic story of how the Underground began, including the influence on his life as a leader that catapulted the eventual launch of what is now 172 microchurches across Tampa. These fresh expressions of the church target areas where the church isn’t—everything from at-risk youth to victims of the sex industry to the formerly incarcerated to refugees. Each microchurch begins with moments of gift activating.

“What we saw when we started and what I continue to see is that when you let people have some kind of control in what they do or say to implement or express the church, their motivation levels are way higher,” Sanders says. “Their self-leadership is extremely high and what they produce is creative, moving into that blue ocean place where the church isn’t. It’s really a beautiful discovery.”

Brian also tells how the Underground supports gift activating through its unique approach to commissioning and ordination of these microchurch leaders. He leaves listeners with a prophetic challenge to vehemently avoid what he calls one of the “big scandals of our time.”

The Underground is making heroes of dozens and dozens of nonprofit leaders all over Tampa!


Brian Sanders serves as founder and executive director of The Underground Network in Tampa, Florida, a group of 172 microchurches across the city. He is also the author of the upcoming 2018 book The Underground Church: A Living Example of the Church in Its Most Potent Form, in which he shares his and the Underground’s story. Visit exponential.org/2018 to learn more about becoming a hero maker and leading a Level 5 multiplication culture.