The San Francisco Bay Area is home to the least churchgoing population in the United States. According to the Barna Research Group, 61% of residents do not attend church.
But there's a group of religious leaders and savvy businesspeople out to change that. The Exponential Conference recently came to the Bay Area for the second year in a row. This gathering is meant to catalyze evangelical Christian leaders to start new churches. It's a practice called "church planting" and the goal of the conference, as the name suggests, is the exponential growth of the religious community.
Turns out, building up a successful congregation in the Bay Area involves detailed business plans, sleek websites, intentional social media branding, podcasts of sermons, and lots of upbeat Christian rock.
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger is the Chairman of the Board at a group called Transforming the Bay with Christ. This coalition of business leaders, venture capitalists, non-profit leaders and pastors aims to convert one million people over the next decade. In order to so, it hopes to raise $15 million for what it calls it's Start-up Church Fund. Gelsinger donates nearly half his annual income to charity, much of it directed to church planting organizations.
As Gelsinger says about his dual roles, "I'm the full time minister of VMWare and I have 23,000 souls that are under my leadership."