The Church: Eden Church in Campbell, California
The Challenge: Find a way to connect with diverse, affluent, generally nonreligious residents of Silicon Valley.
One Big Idea: Establish the church at the well-trafficked Farmers’ Market.
By launching his new church at a farmers’ market in Silicon Valley, Daniel Atondo hopes to connect with a crowd more known for technology innovation than religion. Eden Church unintentionally found a home in a banquet hall at the market in downtown Campbell, California.
“This was the only location we could find,” says Atondo, lead pastor. While he never imagined planting a church in such a setting, Atondo soon realized the farmers’ market was a strategic location.
“This actually could be a great opportunity,” he says.
That’s because the thousands of residents who don’t attend church services visit the market or walk around downtown. Having a plant there allows Atondo and his pastoral team to reach these people. The church has seized the opportunity by passing out reusable bags to shoppers, as environmentalism is almost as important to residents as technology.
Most of the people Atondo meets have no church background. On average, the church draws about 90 attendees per service.
“It has been a cool experience,” he says. “There’s such a diversity of culture here; a huge percentage of people are foreign born.”
Silicon Valley attracts a number of technology professionals from Asia. In addition to its cultural diversity, the area boasts extraordinary wealth. And Atondo took into consideration the lifestyle of residents while readying the church for launch. Eden Church had a soft launch in January and grand opening on Feb. 12. Atondo says that if the premises weren’t spotless, residents wouldn’t feel comfortable letting their children attend services.
“Families worship children and education,” he says of Silicon Valley. “They make sure they’re involved in recreational activities and coding programs for kids at a really young age.”
The Eden Church staff try to connect with community members on an intellectual level, since so many are highly educated. While Atondo says some people he meets resent religion, he doesn’t think that’s the case with the typical millennial.
“I do think there is some skepticism, but I really think this younger generation is more open to spirituality,” he says.
Although most visitors haven’t yet made a commitment to Christ, Atondo believes they will in time.
“They are walking,” he says. “They just maybe haven’t made that public decision, but they are definitely on that path to commit their lives to Christ. They’re on that trajectory.”