God and Silicon Valley. The two don’t seem to fit together, do they?
Silicon Valley is the global center of technology where innovation and entrepreneurship flourish and where fortunes are made. Venture capitalists and technology geniuses form the perfect marriage of unlimited money and bountiful creativity. Together they start companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook, businesses that change the way people work and live. Innovation, technology, and wealth are idolized. Self-sufficiency, self-centeredness, and the pursuit of success reign.
So where does God fit in the minds of people in Silicon Valley?
To some extent, He doesn’t. Silicon Valley is one of the most unchurched areas in the country. The Barna Group, a highly regarded research firm that looks at cultural and religious trends, found in a 2013 study of the Bay Area that the percentage of “Highly Christianized” people is 58% lower than in the U.S. at large, and church attendance is also 30% lower than elsewhere in the U.S.
The Silicon Valley lifestyle can leave residents busy, financially stretched, and skeptical, with little time for or interest in God. But this is not the whole story. God is penetrating hard-hearted souls in Silicon Valley.
Evidence is pointing to a movement of God in Silicon Valley.
Pre-pandemic, I counted more than a dozen churches with over 1,500 attendees on average at Sunday worship services. Although small churches struggled during the pandemic in Silicon Valley and across the country, some have grown substantially. For example, New Beginnings Community Church, with a highly diverse church congregation – ethnically, politically, and age-wise – has grown from an average of around 1,000 worshippers on a Sunday to over 11,000 online viewers.
Most major high-tech companies host Christian fellowship and prayer groups, including SalesForce, Apple, Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Employees started many of these fellowship groups under the mentorship of Roy Tinklenberg, who heads a non-profit organization called Faith & Work Movement (F&WM). F&WM started in Silicon Valley and has now expanded internationally. The non-profit’s goal is to equip those in the marketplace to fulfill their purposes and do good.
Silicon Valley is the center of venture capital. Some of the major funds include Christ-followers as partners, including Promod Haque, one of the top venture capitalists in the world. And smaller funds have started up with a more explicit Christian focus, including Sovereign’s Capital and 1Floursh Capital.
I see prayer groups popping up around Silicon Valley, and leading Christian-based non-profits like CityTeam are helping the poor and disadvantaged. Pre-pandemic, Connect Silicon Valley hosted outreach events featuring high-tech and other Christian leaders to sold-out live audiences.
One of my most heartening discoveries is the number of entrepreneurs wanting to build their businesses to glorify Christ.
Can you imagine if someday Silicon Valley becomes known not only as a place of innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation but also a place of God? If that were to happen, the world would take notice.
We may be at the beginning of such a movement; we will see what God has planned.