In Silicon Valley, many churches are taking as much advantage of new technology as start-up corporations. One new congregation in Los Altos, near Sunnyvale, had a Web site before holding its first worship service.

Drew Fields, pastor of the start-up Grace Presbyterian, quit his job at a Wall Street investment bank specializing in media, attended seminary, then joined the staff of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan.

But his latest passion is launching Grace Presbyterian as a church designed to specialize in outreach to Internet entrepreneurs.

Once Fields decided to lose his New York suit, the Valley's infectious enthusiasm for the next new thing started to grip him. He was pleasantly surprised by how a Web site could create a church before it was ever founded.

"We are doing a non-normal church-planting. So, we became like a typical dot-com. A buzz started before we even arrived," Fields tells CT. "We already had a gathering of people, though we didn't live here in the Valley."

Former members of Redeemer Presbyterian had called Fields to tell him that a church such as Redeemer, which emphasized reaching young urban professionals, was urgently needed in Silicon Valley.

Many Silicon Valley workers are curious about spiritual issues, although religion is not pursued with the same vigor as are money and pleasure.

"Overall, what has impressed me is the unbelievable busyness of people," Fields says. "If you aren't there first with a business idea, then someone else will get there before you."

If Silicon Valley residents are not working at "their really cool, cutting edge job," they want "really cool play," he says.

A local anthropologist says that Valley residents are not so much irreligious as unconnected with a church community. "We had somehow bought into the idea that this was the heartland of godless atheism, and that's not true at all," says Jan English-Luek of San Jose State University.

The new attenders of Fields's church start-up are eager for new friendships. An accountant at Price Waterhouse Coopers recalls the time a coworker came into work one day declaring, "No social life, no dates, and only fellows!"

It is not just the lack of social outings that leaves people lonely. "I had no friends outside work for five months," the accountant says, "until this church's Bible study in October."

Related Elsewhere

Related articles appearing on our site today include The Silicon Valley Saints and Reporting with the Top Down.

The Grace Presbyterian web site offers information and ministry connections. The church's former site, Silicon Valley Project, is also still online.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.