Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay area is home to the world’s most admired tech gurus, venture capitalists, and hugely successful startups, from Apple and Microsoft to Facebook and Netflix. But despite its plethora of innovative and creative minds, Silicon Valley remains one of the least religious parts of the country, with just 42 percent of adults saying they believe in God with absolute certainty.
In this perceived wasteland of faith, a coalition of leaders from the faith, business, and tech communities are making a tremendous impact for Christ.
Co-founded by VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger, Transforming the Bay with Christ is a nonprofit organization working to jumpstart a Jesus movement in the Bay Area that results in spiritual and societal transformation.
Headed by Nancy Ortberg, a former teacher at Willow Creek Community Church and a respected Christian voice on leadership and spirituality, the group mobilizes churches and Christ-followers to make a difference through social compassion and service.
“A few years ago, Christian business leaders and pastors started to imagine, ‘What would it be like if we could start to help catalyze a holistic Gospel movement in the Bay Area?’ And that's how TBC got started,” Ortberg told The Christian Post.
“The Bay Area is very rich in resources and in diversity, with different people coming to this area from all over the world to be involved in careers that have shaped the world," she continued. "The Church, then, needs to show up in a significant way to influence these people and their lives and say, ‘there’s more to life than this; there’s a Creator behind all of this.’”
Founded in 2013, TBC is driven by a belief that true spiritual and societal transformation can only happen when people love God with all their heart, soul and mind and their neighbor as themselves, as instructed in Matthew 22:37-40.
Backed by the likes of Francis Chan, John Ortberg, and Chip Ingram, the organization works through three strategic streams: Unify, amplify, and multiply Christian leaders in the Bay Area for Kingdom impact.
Ortberg explained: “We unify by bringing senior pastors and business leaders of faith together in catalytic networks; we amplify by looking at social wounds like homelessness, poverty, foster care, and education and activate nonprofit organizations of faith and churches to come around these issues and make dents in them.”
“Finally, we multiply by looking at the whole ecosystem of the Bay Area for church planting and imagine how we can accelerate and create the kinds of churches that will be a magnet for people for the Gospel."
The movement has made significant inroads within the last five years: Ortberg told CP that currently, 500 churches across 30 locations in the Bay Area are involved in pastors' networks started by TBC.
“We work in that catalytic space to bring churches together in a way that accelerates what they’re doing,” she shared. “These Kingdom-minded men and women come together and not only encourage each other and build relationships but also figure out, ‘What’s something we can collaborate on together for city impact, so cities will start seeing the value of churches in the area?’”
In a region where nearly 15 percent of children are living below the poverty line and another 7,200 remain in foster care, TBC has linked together multiple system cohorts, mobilizing churches to come alongside organizations and address social issues.
“We look at issues of foster care, for example, not just with one note, but at the whole scope of the issue, from pregnancy to adoption,” Ortberg explained. “Often, churches want to start their own programs instead of coming alongside programs that already work. So we look at how can churches collaborate with organizations and bring systemic solutions to a large problem. We ask, 'How can we do this in such a way that churches are not seen as solving just one piece of a problem, but really having the whole scope in mind?'”
Aiming to reach a million new believers for Jesus Christ in the next ten years, TBC also works with local pastors, church planters, and church planting organizations “to talk about what kind of churches are needed in the Bay Area,” Ortberg said.
This aspect of TBC is badly needed, she contended, as many of the churches present in the Bay Area live an isolated existence, diminishing their potential collective impact.
“A lot of churches will live in silos, avoiding everybody who doesn't believe in exactly the same kind of doctrine that they do or isn't aligned completely around their socioeconomic political ideology,” she said. “Part of what we’re encouraging Christians to do is just to say, ‘If Jesus is at the center, then that's enough to put our foot down and collaborate together and have an exponential, powerful impact.’”
Spiritual revival, she said, can happen in the most unlikely places — even in a region described as “post-Christian” by the Barna Research Group — and Christ-followers are called to seek out the Kingdom of God in their geography, wherever that may be.
“Your geography mandates your calling,” she said. “There’s a huge need in the Bay Area, and TBC is working to mobilize not just pastors, but believers in arts and entertainment, business and government, and nonprofit and tech to come alongside their local communities and make the Kingdom more tangible to people in the Bay Area and in turn, draw them to Christ.”
To learn more about TBC, visit www.tbc.city.