The first large gathering of Transforming the Bay with Christ (TBC) in San Francisco, CA brought together a number of business, faith and community leaders seeking to transform their communities both socially and spiritually.
The event, which was held at Epic Church on January 9, featured a variety of speakers, including VMWare CEO Pat Gelsinger, San Francisco Giants GM Bobby Evans, YWAM SF's Ruthie Kim, San Francisco City Impact Director Christian Huan, Fuller Theological Seminary's President Mark Labberton, and TBC CEO Nancy Ortberg.
TBC's mission is "to catalyze a holistic gospel movement in the Bay Area that results in spiritual and societal transformation," while the organization's vision is "to see every person in the Bay Area thrive and flourish-body, soul and spirit by living life as God intended it".
To kick off the conference, Gelsinger, who is also the chairman of TBC, outlined three strategies or initiatives of the organization, which he revealed were born out of a strong desire to see the revival in the Bay Area.
"We want to change people's lives, we want to multiply churches," he said. "We're so proud of the Bay Area for its innovation in business, but what if we became proud of the Bay Area for its innovation in church planting? What if people came here and said, 'I don't want to learn about startups; I want to learn about what the church is doing.'"
First, TBC seeks to unify, or create relationships among Christian leaders across cultural domains to support those who are furthering the work of God in the Bay Area.
Second, TBC hopes to amplify, or use a collaboration between public, private, and social sectors, led by the faith community, to respond to the biggest needs of the Bay Area.
Third, TBC intends to multiply and support existing, new, and novel healthy churches throughout the Bay Area that are places of healing growth and transformation.
These initiatives will help TBC encourage churches in the Bay Area to adopt churches, expand church planting in the area, and connect churches and business in service.
"Simply put, our goal is to see revival in our day, in our land, in the Bay Area," Gelsinger concluded.
Nancy Ortberg then took the stage to share how ministry can be most effective when people see Christians actually living out Biblical mandates and Christ-like love. When the truth of the Gospel becomes undeniable, ministries are truly able to make an impact on their communities, she contended.
Ortberg shared a compelling story of neighbors that rejected multiple invitations to participate in church. However, when an associate of the neighbors, a single mom, was in desperate need of a car, a local church provided a vehicle for her. This physical expression of Christ's love completely changed the neighbors' view of the Gospel and willingness to attend church.
She further weighed in on TBC's three strategies, revealing that in an effort to unify, the organization will sponsor three meetings a year in the three major regions of the Bay Area. In seeking to unify, TBC will distribute information about practice ministries throughout the Bay Area. Finally, in an effort to multiply, TBC hopes to expand the existing 3,600 Bay Area churches by 180 church plants.
Ortberg and Jon Talbert, TBC's Chief Convening Officer, then interviewed Kim, Huang and Evans, all of whom are respected Christian leaders in San Francisco.
After sharing how God is moving within their individual ministries, each speaker offered words of advice and encouragement to those who are hoping to witness in their communities.
"We just can't dream big enough, or keep up with God, but we can try," Kim said. "This is my first [TBC] meeting, and looking around this room and just having met some of the people and seeing...what God has given you and the dreams that you have, I would just really encourage you to keep going...We're not alone and God is for us and not against us. Keep dreaming, keep going after those big dreams, and I think that we'll be amazed at what God's gonna do because He loves the Bay Area."
"I would just encourage everyone that really the miracle is in the monotony," added Huang. "Everyone wants to walk on water like Jesus, but if you look at the Bible, you know, 91% of His life is unaccounted for. What happened to the days when Jesus just...was exhausted and went to bed. I think about that all the time..Jesus had some days, and people quit so easily, but the miracle is in the monotony. There's some fruit you can only bear through longevity."
He then quoted 2nd Samuel 23:11-12 before stating, "Find your bean field and work in it, faithfully. If there's a patch of beans somewhere, stay put and keep fighting."
Evans also shared some words of wisdom, calling to mind the story found in Matthew 14:13-21, which Jesus feeds 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish.
"As I look around daily in my life, I like for the five loaves and two fish," he said. "What little do I have that I can give to God that He can use to magnify His power and His presence?"
He added, "Every day, we should look at what little we have and ask God to turn it into something bigger. We worship a big God. The same Jesus that multiplied five loaves and two fish will multiply whatever you offer."
TBC's guest speaker was Mark Labberton, President of Fuller Theological Seminary and the former pastor of First Presbyterian Church Berkeley. In a powerful speech, Labberton stressed that extraordinary change for Christ in communities can only occur when His followers understand grace and live out what they claim to believe.
"Any effective leadership has to be about the marriage of voice and touch," he said, citing Matthew 7:29.
"The reason that's true is ultimately because that's the connection that the human crisis prevents. That is the hope of the Gospel. It's seen in the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and the belief that God is coming in human flesh; that God's voice and God's touch are one thing...What Jesus said and what He did were really one whole."
He added, "The Bay Area is an exceptional place in an exceptional time, but we are not exceptional. What is most exceptional is God's grace that saves, renews, and redeems us and calls us out of our own small, private prisons."
In the next few months, TBC has a number of upcoming events: In an effort to connect and see strategic partnerships with every school throughout the Bay Area, the organization will be holding a working lunch, roundtable discussion, and conversation about new practices on January 28th from 11:30-1:00 at WestGate Church in San Jose and on March 16th from 11:30-1:00 at Mingleton Temple in Oakland.