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It all started in 2008 when two creative and entrepreneurial guys, Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt, concocted the idea of the Church Basement Roadshow.  

This traveling “act,” which Publisher’s Weekly said “reinvented the book tour,” set up soap boxes in thirty-two U.S. cities to preach, perform music, and peddle ideas with old-time revival flair.

Tony, Doug and a third friend, Mark Scandrette, rolled into church sanctuaries and basements across the country where religious thinkers lined chairs and stretched out in aisle-ways to talk, argue, laugh, and craft new ways of living faith together. The roadshow brought new allies together and became the first of many efforts to come that combined innovative content with relational events.

Since then, the scope of The JoPa Group’s events have grown to include a host of other offerings.

In past years, Church Planters Academy and Christianity 21 added to the national faith conversation by inviting smart, progressive, and often provocative thought leaders to share their latest ideas and practices.  JoPa is always crafting the next innovative event to meet a topical, regional, or national need. This has led to a series of inventive, relational gatherings such as Big Tent Christianity, The Great Emergence, and Funding the Missional Church. And for years, we trained hundreds of clergy in the use of social media at Social Phonics Bootcamps.

JoPa’s newest ventures — Progressive Youth Ministry and the Re|Knew Conference — gather and resource some of the ministry world’s sharpest and most compassionate thinkers and doers. In addition, we recently announced the launch of Learning Adventures, a new undertaking at the intersection of theology, education, and travel.

Just like the Church Basement Roadshow, all of these events find life because of the many socially conscious partners and bright, articulate people who fill both the stage and the seats. JoPa continues to be shaped by attendees who share their own learnings and points of view to help discover better and more hopeful ways of expressing faith in the future.

The Founders

  • Tony Jones
  • Doug Pagitt

A Long Time Ago

Doug and Tony met in 1997, when they were both youth pastors in the suburbs of Minneapolis. They worked together at their first event in 1998, and since then they have co-edited books, vacationed together, presided over family celebrations, and survived heated arguments. They’re both Enneagram 8s, so they know what they want – and most of the time that’s the same thing.

Over the years Doug and Tony have found plenty of common ground, even in the small stuff, such as sporting eclectic facial hair and burning their wardrobe budgets on vintage hats.