Rooted in a growing movement of faith and justice.
More than a decade ago, pastors and faith leaders around the country were individually experiencing shifts in their theological thinking. As activists for the LGBTQ+ community started making progress in their national campaign for the legal right to marry, such cultural shifts were quietly reaching the minds of those leading in conservative, White evangelical churches. Each leader and their community has their own journey and story, some of whom were documented in publications like TIME magazine (see below for more).
In 2014 some of these leaders began meeting in person through the mentorship of Brian McClaren and Doug Paggitt under the name O.P.E.N. (Organizing Progressive Evangelicals Network). O.P.E.N. became a network of pastors, church planters, parents, therapists, artists, and authors who were all connected through their journey of fighting for justice for their LGBTQ+ siblings within the church. Some were proud parents of LGBTQ+ kids or had queer people they loved in their lives who taught them to see their faith differently. Some found themselves fired from their jobs, kicked out of their communities, and starting new churches in their homes because of their shifting beliefs. Some were taking notes as they quietly tried to learn from the misfortunes of other leaders and shift their community’s theology with more nuance and awareness. All were united in trying to forge a new, more just and generous kind of Christianity into the world and were willing to lose friends, family, funding and support in the process of fighting for this more inclusive vision of the Gospel.
Finding A New Way
Many of the founding relationships from O.P.E.N. are still going strong. In 2017, O.P.E.N. rebranded as the W/ Collective. A gathering of pastors and church leaders who once found each other through justice for the LGBTQ+ community is now evolving in the journey as this same inclusive, progressive theology teaches us to expand our fight for justice to issues of race, immigration, gender, ecology, and more. Most come from a White expression of American evangelicalism and are working to deconstruct the characteristics of White supremacy they inherited from their traditions and culture.
The Founding of Launchpad
Launchpad Partners was born from within these evolving and committed relationships.
In 2017, a group of about 20 faith leaders from stable and growing communities around the country came together to imagine what it would look like to launch more loving, more inclusive, Gospel-based communities grounded in progressive theology and our shared passions for justice. With time a vision began to take shape and in 2019, under the leadership of Co-Founders Aaron Bailey, Jennifer Fisher and Colby Martin, along with a board of supportive leaders, Launchpad Partners began offering coaching, consulting, and cohort support for faith leaders discerning and actively engaged in launching new communities. Launchpad is the only independent (not connected to a mainline movement) church planting organization in the country that is (unofficially) labeled as “clear” by Churchclarity.com.
Imagining New Possibilities
In 2020 we began offering one-on-one and cohort based coaching for those starting faith-based projects, everything from life coaching to new churches to LGBTQ+ dinner communities. Since then we’ve worked with 20 projects and supported the launch of four thriving faith communities into the world. We host free monthly support calls and annual rest retreats that support and grow our network.
We’ve talked to hundreds of faith leaders around the world who are seeking a network of like-minded visionaries. With the unexpected changes in our world due to Covid-19, we’re building conversations around new possibilities for faith communities to move online, to expand their vision, and to explore how a progressive faith can shake up the systems and traditions we’ve allowed to hold us back in the past. We want to collaborate and resource leaders who are asking good questions about what faith and community means in this new era.
When you become a partner with Launchpad, you join this movement in helping to serve and shape a more generous, inclusive vision of the Gospel message, one where every person is valued and worthy of becoming a leader. By sharing your journey, asking your questions, and exploring your context with us, we all learn more about the expansive love of Christ.
Contact us to learn more about how your vision, your community, and your leadership can thrive by joining this journey with us and our partners.
Here are a few articles highlighting the journey of this movement: