Drive-In Church Services

Beth Rose, MBA
April 28, 2020

While churches are transferring their services to an online video format during the COVID-19 crisis, a number of churches are wondering how to continue to serve their members who aren’t technologically savvy. Cue the Drive-In Church service.

Church pews are empty all over Metrolina and across the nation on Sunday mornings. Doors are locked shut, parking lots are vacant, and the organs and pianos are silent. Sunday morning looks and sounds very different right now.

Church members and their families are watching weekly services from inside their homes on Facebook Live, YouTube, Vimeo, and even via Zoom and Skype calls. Pastors are speaking to their entire congregation through the lens of a video camera. Yes, Sunday morning may look different, but the church is still gathering in Metrolina. Some of our pastors are reporting that the church is growing in the digital realm.

While our pastors have had to scramble to find new and innovative ways to worship, the vast majority have risen to the challenge with excitement and a newfound zeal for sharing the Word. We want to say THANK YOU to all the pastors, church staff and members who have worked so diligently to serve the body at this time. You’re doing a Holy Spirit filled, God-honoring job and WE SEE YOU and WE APPRECIATE YOU!

But what about our less technologically savvy church members–the ones who aren’t online? They don’t have internet modems or WiFi routers. Facebook and YouTube aren’t even a part of their vocabulary, much less their daily lives. Much of this population doesn’t even have a cell phone. How is the body of Christ reaching out to them?

Drive-In Church Service during COVID-19

What does it look like?

A few of our pastors are reaching out to the offline population, offering a physical Sunday service at the Drive-In. If your mind immediately goes to the popular drive-in movie theaters of the past, with parked cars and hang-on window speakers, you’re pretty close to what drive-in church looks like.

Except for the hang-on speakers, that is. With social distancing orders in place, all vehicle windows, doors, sunroofs, trunks, and any other vehicle openings must remain closed during these services. Churches are opting to use low-frequency FM radio transmitters for their sermons. Attendees park their vehicles in the parking lot, tune their radios to the broadcast frequency and wave to their friends and fellow church members through their windows.

There was a Facebook Post going around that shared how drive-in church attendees could “Flash Lights for an Amen” or “Honk a Hallelujah”. It’s just another fun and creative way to ensure a sense of community in this time of social distancing.

Church offerings are taken up a little differently during such a service, as well. Instead of sending offering plates around, churches are putting out bins for attendees to drop-in offerings. This helps to prevent the spread in multiple ways:

1.) There is no person-to-person contact
2.) Bins can be covered and left for a few days to allow time for any viruses left on the offering to die off
3.) It’s a fast and easy collection process that can be placed as people enter or leave the premises

So, what is required in order for Drive-In Service to take place?

Metrolina Baptist Association has purchased a low power FM Transmitter, giving churches in our association the ability to borrow this transmitter for a Sunday or weekday service. However, if you are interested in purchasing a transmitter for your church, you can find a number of options on Amazon. (Though you may need to pay attention to the shipping dates. Amazon is prioritizing certain items and asking retailers to halt or slow their shipping in order to get necessities out faster.)

If you are purchasing your own transmitter, we also advise you to view the FCC rules on low power radio transmission, especially for unlicensed transmission. The transmitter MBA has purchased for use falls under FCC guidelines for use in a drive-in church setting. See our transmitter here: FM Transmitter

In an effort to follow Jesus’ command to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt 22:39 and Mark 12:31), all social distancing rules must be strictly adhered to in order to avoid spreading COVID-19. A recent Charlotte WBTV Article stated Mecklenburg County’s drive-in church restrictions were lifted–except for communion services, which could potentially spread COVID-19. You can read more about what Mecklenburg County Health Department requires residents to do in order to slow the spread of coronavirus here. In addition to this information, please stay up-to-date on Mecklenburg County’s Stay At Home Order.

As mentioned above, attendees at drive-in church must remain in their enclosed vehicles. All vehicles must be parked no less than 6 feet apart. Each vehicle should represent a family group, or a group of people who live together under the same roof. The church may not bring in groups in buses or large vans, as social distancing protocol would prohibit such activity.

If your church is planning on having a drive-in service, let us know! Send an email to missions@metrolina.org with your information.

If you have further questions about using an FM Transmitter for your church to have a drive-in service, view the video below or contact Todd Jones via email or text/phone: (704) 473-0539