On/File: A Continuing Record of Groups, Movements, People, and Events Impacting Religion

Crossroads, recently named the fastest growing church in America, has also made a name for itself for its entrepreneurial ministry that is closely integrated with the startup culture of Silicon Valley. The church, based in Cincinnati, was a startup of executives from Procter & Gamble beginning a Bible study in 1990. The church founders used the marketing and brand management techniques unique to Procter & Gamble, gathering demographic data of the city and its residents’ church-going habits. Eventually targeting the 25 to 35 age demographic, the church has grown to 30,000 congregants in nine locations in the greater Cincinnati area. Among the church’s staff of 274, a 75-person “experience team” is responsible for branding and marketing the church, even including a “labs division” that is led by a corporate brand ethnographer. The church’s eight satellite branches operate as franchises, and Crossroads even engages in mergers and acquisitions, having lately acquired a church in Lexington, KY, with 2,500 members and four locations. The clearest influence of Silicon Valley on Crossroads can be seen in its entrepreneurship and investment division. The church runs contests and funding drives to “increase God’s presence in the marketplace,” creating an “accelerator” that turns out entrepreneurs who are given five-month residencies and startup funds of $25,000. Fifteen of the 19 startups have survived, raising a combined $6 million and creating 66 jobs in the U.S. and overseas. (Source: Bloomberg Business Week, April 5