Welcome to Crossroads: The Church with its Own Startup Accelerator

Christians building friendships and business relationships.

There are so many reasons why Christians go to church. For some people, it is for spiritual gain, for others, it is for social interaction and others well, it is just an obligation. In Cincinnati, Ohio there is a group of Christians who go to church not only for spiritual nourishment, but also to cultivate business relationships.[/tweetit] Their church community is known as the Crossroads Church.

Welcome to Crossroads: The Church with its Own Startup Accelerator[/tweetthis]

Crossroads is a one-of-a-kind church, a church with a business plan. It helps people build their faith, while building their businesses.

Crossroads Church is situated in different regions of Cincinnati and consists of over 30,000 congregants and 274 staff members. The church boasts a headquarters in Oakley, Ohio with eight franchise-like satellite locations including a recent acquisition of a church and its four locations in Kentucky.

The Crossroads Church was formed when a Clearasil brand manager and Procter & Gamble executives got together in a study group and decided to build a church surrounding their shared interest in business. The three, Brian Wells, Jim Bechtold, and his wife Vivien Lee Bechtold gathered data on what they thought like-minded executives would want in a church and after months of research held their first service in a rented junior high school auditorium.

After their first service, the trio’s message of ‘continuing God’s culture of work and creation by building businesses’ drew so many congregants that there was a need to expand, like any other start-up. Crossroads used its leaders’ home equity as collateral and five years after inception converted a vacant big-box store into a vast auditorium where the main services could be held.

The Crossroads team was very energetic and innovative. Soon, the church grew and began diversifying in locale. Just last year, the church participated in the mergers-and-acquisitions space, ‘adopting' another church in Lexington, KY which coincidentally bore a similar name. The affiliate churches are managed by Crossroads staffers who ensure that the message given at the main church is broadcasted to all other Crossroad churches, making it so that all church members all hear the same message.

Like all other churches, Crossroads’ main purpose was to bring people closer to God. But Crossroads did not just tell people to come back to God; it made them co-creators with God.

Lyden Foust, an ethnographer and member of the church was one of the lucky start-up owners to go through the church's Ocean Accelerator Inc. program, whose goal is to “increase God’s presence in the marketplace.” While in the program, Foust told Bloomberg, he was given an opportunity to pitch his idea to venture capitalists and investors from the Crossroads Church and angel investors. His idea took off with the funds he got from the church, as well as from the mentorship he received from it. Foust’s start-up was an app that helped visitors in navigation by profiling neighborhoods.

Foust described the biggest gain he got from Crossroads as the spiritual and business guidance he got from it, as well as the relationships he was able to build. Foust also attributes his relationship with his best friend Will Kiessling to a meeting where he ran into Kiessling at the church.


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