SAN FRANCISCO -- Linda Bergquist is a California Southern Baptist Convention church planting catalyst working in the San Francisco Bay Area. She works with new English-speaking churches, including Anglo and multi-ethnic congregations and second-generation churches, for three associations (Central Coast, CostaMeda and San Francisco-Peninsula). She is also assigned to Chinese, South Asian and Middle-Eastern work in the greater Bay Area. The challenge is enormous.
Besides ministering to some of the least reached peoples in the world, especially South Asians and Muslims, Linda’s research shows that most Bay Area counties are quite unevangelized among any people groups. The Association of Religious Data Archives offers some of the nation’s most thorough data. It shows that San Mateo County, just south of San Francisco, is California’s least evangelical county (3.45%) Marin County, north of the Golden Gate Bridge, is only 3.49% evangelical, and San Francisco County is only 3.77% evangelical.
In Marin County, the data shows there are just 8,817 people connected with evangelical churches, while 142,601 are unclaimed by any religion. In San Francisco, 30,348 claim affiliation with evangelical churches, but 520,925 are unclaimed by any religious group. In San Francisco there are more than 17,000 Buddhists, 6,600 Muslims and fewer than 6,000 Southern Baptists. In San Mateo County there are 24,771 evangelicals, and 387,113 not claimed by any group. Mormons claim more than 13,000 adherents and Muslims claim 4,400. There are more than 6,000 Jewish persons, and around 3,400 Southern Baptists.
Other Bay Area counties have slightly higher evangelical populations. For example, Sonoma County is 5.34% evangelical, with 9,000 Buddhists, 10,000 Muslims and some 4,700 Southern Baptists. Contra Costa County is 7.73% evangelical with 10,000 Buddhists, 10,000 Muslims, 21,500 Mormons and 13,500 Southern Baptists. Alameda County is 8.17% evangelical with 123,000 evangelicals and 1,000,700 persons unaffiliated. There are 13,000 Buddhists, 25,000 Mormons, 30,000 Muslims and 22,000 Southern Baptists. Santa Clara County is 8.34% evangelical -- 148,599 evangelicals, but 1,005,614 unclaimed by any group. There are 23,000 Buddhists, 43,000 Hindus, approximately 19,000 Muslims and 16,600 Southern Baptists. See the link http://tinyurl.com/ocyj7a5 to find information for your county.
Clearly, all kinds of churches are needed in the San Francisco Bay Area. What kinds of churches? Churches that care about lost people. Churches that engage their communities, and reach out to people who need Jesus. There is a saying in church planting that, “We go for the low-hanging fruit.” This means the people who are most receptive and will respond to mass evangelism methods. Such approaches are fine, for Jesus tells us that the harvest is plentiful (Luke 10:2).
But meanwhile, who will do the difficult work of declaring the Good News of the Kingdom in the midst of California’s deep lostness? Who is saying, “Here am I, Lord. Send me”?
Here are a few free online resources Linda uses to learn more about the people groups to which she is assigned:
Dr. Linda Bergquist