Technological know-how aids San Jose church outreach
(March 31, 2002)
Family Community Church in San Jose, Calif., is a techno-savvy church
located in Silicon Valley, the worlds hotbed of computerized innovation.
Virtually every major high-tech company is based or has offices in the
Valley. Situated among the dot-com and computing giants such
as Apple Computer is Family Community Church, known as much for
its cutting edge, multi-media ministry as its mission to introduce dot-comers
and computer executives to Christ.
Power of music: Family
Communitys contemporary praise and worship team ministers
to visitors from off the street.
Family Communitys Spirit newspaper, a 16-page full-color
publication, is mailed to 200,000 homes each month to reach the unchurched
with information and programs that interest them. More than 200 new
households visit the church monthly.
"Our goal is to make the person whos coming in thats not
a Christian impressed with how we love and care for them," says Bill
Buchholz, senior pastor. "When people have a chance to make a decision
without pressure, weve found theyll be more honest with
Regulars and first-time visitors are on equal ground when they enter
the church. Visitors are directed to a table where an instant snapshot
is taken of them for a visitors card. The picture helps church
staff remember visitors by name. Information tables with advertisements
invite worshipers to get involved in one of the congregations
18 ministries. At other tables located throughout the fellowship hall,
free doughnuts, coffee and juice are offered. The aroma of freshly brewed
espresso and lattes draws handfuls of people to an espresso cart before
every service. "Each week we give away more than 1,500 doughnuts," Buchholz
says. "People can hide behind their coffee cup. It tends to make them
linger and connect with new friends. As long as people are making friends
and growing in Christ, were happy."
Beyond the foyer, ushers dressed in golf shirts with embroidered church
logos greet the casually dressed attendees as they enter the main auditorium
coffee and pastry in hand. The sanctuary is equipped with simulcast
capabilities. Technicians at the back of the auditorium control state-of-the-art
digital cameras with joysticks. A streaming operator monitors video
as it is streamed live on Family Communitys Web site.
On this Sunday, the service begins with contemporary worship filling
the auditorium. "My goal is to use music to reach out to the community,"
says Todd Brown, music pastor, noting that most attendees have little
church background. While the contemporary service gets under way in
the main sanctuary, the Video Café in The Upper Room, an upstairs
auditorium, is filled with those preferring traditional praise and worship.
"He Touched Me" and "The Old Rugged Cross" are songs of choice here.
Thirty minutes later, the services become one via live closed-circuit
television, which allows those in the Video Café to hear the
same sermon Buchholz is preaching downstairs. "If our people can acclimate
themselves to receiving the preachers message on screen," Buchholz
says, "then it will be easier for us to expand in our current facility
and other rented facilities throughout Silicon Valley without having
to build entire new worship sites."
The churchs ability to stream video to its Web site allows people
around the world to listen to Buchholzs messages weekly.
Phil Nicholas began attending the church more than a year ago and recently
joined Family Communitys singles ministry leadership team. "Pastor
Bills messages are perfectly tailored to meet the Silicon Valley
population," Nicholas says. "While he speaks our language, he still
tells the truth."
Family Communitys innovative approach to ministry has been the
catalyst for its growth. In 1983, Buchholz started the church in his
living room. By 2000, attendance reached 800. Today, Family Communitys
attendance has swelled to more than 1,800 congregants. "God is doing
a work much greater than any of us could have imagined possible," Buchholz