A few times a month, Launchpad gets an email asking something like:
“Does Launchpad have resources?”
“I want to launch an affirming church but I need resources. Do you have them?”
“Is there funding for new churches through Launchpad?
When Jen and I talk with whoever sent the email, almost always what they’re really asking is: “There needs to be an inclusive church in my city and I want to start one but my family doesn’t have the financial resources to do this without me taking a salary. Do you have money to fund my new church?”
And every time, we say: no, there isn’t currently funding from Launchpad. In fact, there’s very little money in this inclusive and affirming world. Launchpad itself runs on a shoestring budget. Jen and I have other sources of income to feed our families.
And we actually think this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Taking a different approach
Some of us come out of big-box church planting models where a network invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in a new church plant. And with it, we’ve seen how this money often leads to abuse, unequal power dynamics and burnout. The more money, the more opportunity for abuse.
We believe the next iteration of community and church starts more organically and grows in ways that don’t look like past ways. It’s rooted in culture, context, relationship and most of all, place, working to serve and empower the people of the community and those who have been left out or traumatized by the institution of the church.
If we are to deconstruct our theology, we must also deconstruct our deeply embedded requirements of what the institution of the “church” should be.
Where there might be funding
Having said that, if you’ve done the difficult work to discern your need for funding and deconstructed your idea of church, here’s where we have seen possible sources of funding:
1. We’ve coached leaders through receiving funding through the relationships they’ve built with established communities they met through Launchpad. These deep relationships are built over months, if not years, of face-to-face and virtual community. For example, I helped start a church with financial support from three congregations around the United States, relationships my colleagues and I built over years. (My monthly salary was $1,500.) A church in your community or across the country might want to invest in the work you’re doing if they know and trust you and see that your vision aligns with theirs.
2. We’ve also coached leaders through navigating the ins and outs of partnering with denominations that do have potential money and resources. Again, denominational support can take months or years to cultivate and it can be an unfamiliar system to work within if you’re not used to the structure of denominations, but it can be done.
3. Jen and I are always cultivating relationships with larger funding sources that may (or may not) turn into funding for new communities. We have a dream of being able to provide $10,000 seed grants to 10 new communities a year, for example. All of this is slow work but we continue to prayerfully hope and dream about this possibility.
We’d encourage you to continue to get involved with Launchpad through opportunities like our monthly Support Calls and our Renew retreat next spring.
Jen and I are available to coach you through how you can best position yourself to build your community to approach others and denominations about funding. If you’d like to talk through the possibility of coaching, please schedule time with us.