As churches experiment with ways to gather their people in a safe and controlled environment during the pandemic, one popular idea is holding church in cars with either a drive-in or a drive-through service!
What’s the difference? A drive-in service typically involves participants driving to the church parking lot, parking their cars, and viewing the service from their vehicle. A drive-through service means the families drive through a designated route on the church campus, stopping by different stations to interact with the pastors or complete aspects of worship (like giving offering, taking Communion, picking up family devotionals from the kids department, etc.). Both offer ways for your church community to connect with you, see each other, and be on the church campus, all while staying safe.
We did a drive-in at our local high school because we are a downtown church without a parking lot. We parked cars every other space. Everyone was told they had to remain in their cars. We bought an FM transmitter and everyone tuned into a station to listen. The service was about an hour. We had a couple of songs, children’s message, scripture reading, prayer, offering, sermon, and then closed with song and prayer. Myself, our youth director, and our college ministry director handled parking and welcoming cars. We had 2 praise band members lead our songs and and we had a sound tech person. We are also wanting to get matching t-shirts for the staff. We were told by our sheriff to not pass out anything, but for the offering we purchased butterfly nets that extend out so we didn’t have to get close to people in their cars. We did 2 services, with 60-80 cars at the first and around 50 cars at the second. It’s a lot of fun and I’m so glad we do it!”
We did our regular live-streaming on Sunday morning from 10-11 AM, then hosted the drive-through from 2-4 PM. This time frame worked fine, but it did exclude families with younger kids. (For example, my 3-year-old still naps at that time. So I will be asking our staff to bump it up at least by 1 hour for the next drive-through.) We do the drive through services once a month. When people pull into church’s drive-way, we have yard signs every 10 ft. saying, WELCOME // WE MISS YOU // STAY IN YOUR CAR // WE’RE PRAYING FOR YOU // and a lot of Scripture verses that focus on faith and hope. All the pastors are scattered along the way. As the cars are moving towards the pick-up spot, families have a chance to see and chat with every single pastor. At the pick-up spot, a couple of pastors bring care packages that include a family worship guide for that week, a monthly prayer calendar for all our missionaries, something for the entire family. (Option for the pick-up spot: rather than handing items to families directly, have them or a pastor open their trunk, the pastor places the item in the trunk, and close it – no one has to be within 6ft of each other!) One lesson we learned: It’s important to bring sunscreen! Half of our worship pastor’s face (that wasn’t covered by the mask) got badly burned. It’s also good to have cold bottled water for someone to take to the pastors one hour into the drive-through to keep everyone hydrated. Our people stay in the car at all times and the pastors handing out bags are wearing masks and gloves. Some families arrange to meet with other families, so after they’re done with a drive through, they just go deeper into the parking lot and chat at 6 ft. apart. Overall it’s a wonderful and much needed experience. Just being there, talking to people, fnding out how they have been and answering any questions they might have. I also pull out my wireless, Bluetooth speaker and create a fun music background. At our pick up spot, where people are handed their care packages, we also have a small lock-box for tithes and offerings. Older folks who are not comfortable with online giving often have an offering envelope that they want to give to the church. So it’s good to have a box or something where you can immediately place it.
What about you? Has your church tried hosting church in cars, whether as a drive-in, drive-through, or some other creative method? Let me know!