By Aaron Bailey, Co-Director, Launchpad
In 2013, after a decade rejected from the church for being gay, I found a vibrant, welcoming and affirming faith community at Highlands Church in Denver. Being a part of a community that accepted me for who I am changed my life in countless ways and deepened my connection to God and my neighbors. In many ways, it saved my life.
Since stepping back into an amazing church five years ago, I’ve grown increasingly uncomfortable that many people in North America don’t have access to an inclusive faith community within their region.
I’ve heard stories from people in places like Los Angeles and Michigan who have been kicked out of “welcoming” churches that turned out to be not fully inclusive. I’ve watched as millions of twenty-somethings have left their parents churches because women aren’t allow to preach or the church will not allow two men in a loving relationship to get married.
And I’ve felt increasing called to do something about this problem.
Also during the last five years, a handful of inclusive church leaders from around North America have been gathering to support and learn from each other. It’s lonely being the only progressive, independent church in town, so these pastors — from churches small and large, rural and urban — started forming a network. That group is now called W/ (With Collective) and they’re holding their first national conference this week in Denver, Colorado.
As W/ leaders gathered, a subset of the group, including myself, realized that this new world needs an organization focused entirely on *starting* new inclusive churches, a way of providing greater access to inclusive churches in as many communities as possible.
So today, I join with Jennifer Fisher and Colby Martin in announcing Launchpad Partners Inc., Launchpad for short. The three of us are co-directors of Launchpad, backed by a board of experienced leaders from around North America. We are in the process of applying for our non-profit 501(c)(3) status.
Our values statement defines who we hope to be in the world.
We’re building Launchpad to:
Identify leaders called to start new, inclusive churches;
Train, equip and coach them to do this hard work;
And support them and their churches as they mature.
We’ll soon start our first cohort of church launchers and we have a list of qualified coaches ready to support their efforts. We’ve also begun building a database of resources one would need to launch a church — everything from the logistics of forming a non-profit entity, to governance and leadership modeling, to soul care for the stressful job of launching a church.
I invite you to join us in this important work:
If you might possibly want to launch an inclusive church, we’d love to talk. Email email@example.com and I’ll get you plugged into our growing scope of services.
If you’re simply interested in following along as we help start new churches, you can subscribe to our email newsletter.
You can also donate to this new organization. While Launchpad waits for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, our fiscal sponsor, Left Hand Church, will receive your tax-exempt donation and then send it to us. Donate to Launchpad here. We’re grateful for your financial support.