It’s a distinct irony: the place that perhaps most embodies the pursuit of the American Dream is one of the most difficult places to realize it.
The high cost of living in Silicon Valley has forced my in-laws to move out after five generations of presence in the region. And though I work as an engineer at a reputed tech firm, my wife and I will be paying exorbitant rent and saving for a down payment on a million-dollar townhome well into our 30s. In a region that has generated incredible wealth for its protagonists, many lower- to middle-class families find it hard to survive.
Spiritually, Silicon Valley is a space of loneliness and darkness. The San Francisco/San Jose metro is the one of the most unchurched and dechurched regions in America. Of the churches that are here, many preach a moralistic and/or liberal message of faith aimed at helping congregants survive and succeed in the region’s competitive landscape. The gospel as the self-emptying, transformational, God-glorifying message of the cross is rarely sounded from our pulpits.
Earlier this year, my employer announced a new remote work policy, granting us the freedom to relocate. Given that our material and spiritual quality of life would seemingly improve anywhere else, we seriously considered a move.
To be clear, God calls people to different places. In our family, though, we’ve identified three reasons to joyfully stay.
1. Silicon Valley helps us to radically trust and rely on Jesus.
While the lack of a robust gospel presence here can discourage us, by removing ourselves we’d abandon the opportunity to be part of the solution. We would be telling our Savior, “We don’t trust you to use us for your glory in this dark place. So please take us to a more comfortable and gentler pasture.”
Living in the Valley, on the other hand, requires us to radically trust in God’s promise to Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9). Such necessary reliance on Jesus through our weaknesses is a rewarding sojourn. Few places in the nation offer the opportunity to this extent.
2. Silicon Valley challenges the faithful to shine brightly for the glory of God.
In a counter-gospel culture, imagine the opportunities for witness. In a culture that values career and wealth above all, we can hold both loosely for the sake of our witness. In a culture that struggles to sustain its fragile peace based on health, wealth, reputation, and altruism, our eternal joy can rest visibly in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Every day, Silicon Valley gives us unique opportunities to obey Jesus’s call in Matthew 5:16.
Instead of admiring from distance what God can do through his faithful remnant, we want to be an integral part of it.
The Valley needs Christians who have the fortitude and deep-rooted desire to make the biblical gospel conspicuous. We don’t want to live in the ignorance of Elijah and fail to recognize that God already has such a remnant for himself. Instead of admiring from distance what God can do through his faithful remnant, we want to be an integral part of it.
3. Silicon Valley is a mission field like no other.
My adjacent neighbors are Buddhists from Hong Kong and Muslims from Bangladesh. Across the street is a Mormon from Utah and a Christian from Korea. My landlord is agnostic, and my manager of five years is a Tamil Hindu Brahmin. This diverse relational web is not rare for the residents of Silicon Valley.
Living and working among us are people from nations and cultures where the gospel has little or no penetration. Silicon Valley also reaches out across the globe––people from all nations are using the products we develop. Such unprecedented diversity and presence make Silicon Valley a mission field like no other. Living here with a commitment to gospel faithfulness is a rare opportunity to do international missions while staying in the United States.
Compared to the lives and limbs sacrificed by Christians across the world, the high rent and cultural pressures offered by Silicon Valley look inexpensive.
Life here can make the American dream of owning a home seem distant and faithful Christianity feel uncomfortable. But compared to the lives and limbs sacrificed by Christians across the world, the high rent and cultural pressures offered by Silicon Valley look inexpensive.
Comfort is the greatest impediment to gospel faithfulness in Silicon Valley. If we can willingly face discomfort in order that we may “know nothing . . . except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2), then the glory of God will yet be revealed in the streets of Mountain View and Palo Alto.
I pray to see the day when many here will discover the gospel as the “treasure hidden in the field” (Matt. 13:44). But such joyful self-abandonment must begin in the church. When the cost of gospel faithfulness in Silicon Valley is counted, I pray many faithful Christians will consider moving in, instead of moving out.