When I would visit Christian PhD, grad, and med students around the Bay Area, I’d always wonder what God’s message to that place would be– to the church of Stanford, Berkeley, Santa Cruz… etc. Outside of the University, I’ve recently had a chance to experience what church (or the Christian community) is like at a big tech campus. In fact, I helped coordinate a Worship Night last week.
There were over 20 people who came to the event. Of the ~20, we had 2 piano players, 2 percussionists, 5 rhythm guitar players, 1 lead guitar player, a flute player, and many singers (as far as I knew). We introduced ourselves and opened with prayer shortly after 5:30.
There were people trickling in and out, but overall, it was a great level of fellowship with each other and with God. One of the leaders did an impromptu devotional from Isaiah 6, and we shared what our prayers have been for this company. We closed addressing these prayer requests that we’ve had on our hearts. It ranged from products being released, to the happiness of our managers, to the energy to thrive, and to our hearts for stewarding the influence that’s been given to us.
Afterwards, we went downstairs to get food together. Of the people who came, a few were new to the area and seemed to enjoy having a chance to connect with like-minded church-goers. It must have been past 8 pm when we all left. Not everyone stayed, of course, but a good number of people hung around to talk and eat– about 15 people.
There’s definitely talk about doing this again. For this initial event, we had just the right number of people for the room size. I was worried that there would be too many people coming, so I didn’t publicize it much. Now I have to figure out how to get a bigger room.
This time around, if we do something again, there will be a little more structure and more testimonies/sharing. We’ll run it like a mini Passion Talks; although, I’m glad that the less structured jam style of worship night worked well in this context. In my experiences it’s worked really well at Stanford. Having played in a lot of bands, there’s often this tendency to overplan and over-rehearse. To me, it’s all worship. Not that it matters anyhow, but there was a lot of musicianship in the group, and, without rehearsing, things went smoothly (and we sounded great!)
I guess the real question is: whether there needs to be a sense of church at a tech company? I’m quick to criticize the PhD’s and grad student Christians, but professionals are a different story. They have families and serve at their own churches. Maybe the fruits from these church communities cover what goes on at this tech company.
If you’ve been following my journey, you’ll know that I’m pretty passionate about the “Intellectual Faith” community, of which are not just people getting PhD’s, but professionals at tech companies as well. Regardless of whether we matter as a community or which community, for that matter, when we gather, God is in our midst.
Now, having spoken with some of the Christian leaders at this company, it seems that what’s on their hearts is a desire for God’s people to really want to study and know God’s word. I’m totally on that boat too; so, if you are at a tech company that has Bible studies, you can always skype into it– it IS a tech company afterall.
My prayer, however, is that we also come to truly know that we’ve been redeemed and commissioned — that God is always with us, and that we can give from the overflow of our hearts. As my friend Diane (Professor of Education at Sac State) puts it: that the Daniels and Esthers will rise up and lovingly serve those in positions of influence and/or serve as those with positions of influence. It’s the sort of thing that changes the world to what it was meant to be, on earth as it is in heaven.
I’m going to end with an awesome Passion Talk that I watched yesterday. This is from my friend, TJ, doing a PhD in Machine Learning at UC Berkeley. The talk is about how Machine Learning is representative of the church.
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