- January 6, 2021
- Christian Living
Does the idea of attending church from your car sound a little crazy? We bet thirty years ago most Christians would have scoffed at the idea of watching church on your phone too, but here we are. You might be surprised to know the concept of drive-in church has roots in the mid-20th century, but just as there are nearly countless Christian denominations, there are also quite a few ways to pull together a weekly service. Here is some of the history regarding drive-in church, how coronavirus renewed interest, and where it differs with online church services.
The Matching Rise of Car Culture and Drive-In Church
The idea of drive-in church was popularized by two driving factors: the rise of car culture in the 1950s and 60s as well as the unshakeable draw of convenience. For centuries, Western Christianity had looked the same. Each weekend a small group of local congregants would gather at the neighborhood church house to sing hymns and hear a message from the pastor. Not only would this be an opportunity for worship, but local fellowship and engagement. The church calendar was full of charity auctions, community meals, and social activity.
Over the last 100 years, American society has grown more individualistic with our spare time. We also find convenience a greater draw than tradition. These two markers make the enticement of drive-in church that much more interesting. In the 1950s, these churches began to pop up in coastal communities in California, Florida, and beyond. For both locals and tourists, drive-in church became a good way to keep the faith without missing out on a day at the beach. The production of cars in a post-war economy led to a number of new businesses such as drive-in movie theaters, restaurants, and fast food franchises. We suppose it’s only natural that the church would feel this impact as well.
While McDonald’s sure didn’t die off after the car craze of the 50s and 60s, there were many vehicle-targeted businesses that fell by the wayside. One can’t help but notice how the concept of a drive-in church never ventured beyond a novelty for beach towns in the national focus. As 2020 has taught us, there may be uses for these places of worship beyond what was imagined in the early days of drive-in churches.
Coronavirus and the Need for Drive-In Church
When a pandemic effectively shut down the world in 2020, the occasion called for unique solutions for social gatherings and ways of conducting business. A new term that has come into popular vernacular during this period is “social distancing.” On an average Sunday at church, people are singing, hugging, and engaging in a number of activities which occur in close proximity to others. How can we accomplish church in a time when everyone is forced to be ten feet apart or may not even be able to gather in a church building?
This is where a drive-in church is able to help. Worship services held at a drive-in venue are in the open air and encourage parishioners to remain in their vehicles. Right off the bat one can see how this would help curb the chances of spreading a virus during the weekly event. While most churches opted for an online approach to solve the social distancing issue, others chose to hold outdoor services, drive-in church events, and similar methods depending on what local government was allowing. So how does a drive-in church service work?
How Does a Drive-In Church Work?
Ever been to a drive-in movie? You’ll find plenty of similarities to a church that employs the same kind of venue. Generally speaking, you will drive your car through the gates, at which you may be able to procure elements for communion. Upon entering you will also be able to find the local radio station being utilized for audio. Set your radio dial to the right station, find a parking spot, and you’ll be good to go. If you belong to a church who is simply making this happen in their parking lot, the sound may instead be delivered through a basic system using speakers and microphone.
Attendees may not get to gather in pews or fully enjoy the corporate singing of traditional services, but most of the church service experience can be molded into the drive-in setting. Music itself is often played live on the property, though some churches may stick to a capella hymns. At some drive-in churches, honking your horn is employed rather than applause, flashing your lights is substituted for saying “amen,” and so on. Each church is a little different, but you can check out the FAQ page for Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church to get some more clarification for how one popular location handles matters.
Comparing Drive-In Church with Streaming Church Online
Since many of us have accepted the concept of streaming church online in 2020, how does such an experience compare to attending a drive-in church? The biggest complaint people often have about checking into church online is the lack of fellowship. The preaching may not be affected and the music comes across just fine, but you don’t get to see your friends or serve in the church in any capacity. A drive-in church offers the ability to fellowship from a distance while still remaining somewhat removed from the rest of the congregation. Even if you can’t participate in lengthy chats in close quarters, one still receives pleasure just from looking at familiar faces and being able to wave hello.
Whether it’s seen as a pro or con, drive-in churches give people a place to physically gather. This removes them from the extremely casual nature of checking into a digital service on the living room couch while wearing pajamas and having not bathed. In a modern world where we already live such divided lives, you may wish for the chance to take part in physical fellowship. On the other hand, in times of illness or travel, how much of a blessing is it to be able to see what’s happening at your church just by turning on your phone?
No matter how you attend services, it’s important to take part in a Christian community where you can be challenged and serve alongside others. Whether you have mobility issues, fears over viruses, or another concern which keeps you from a traditional congregation, we hope you will find a way to be a part of a local church on a regular basis. Who knows what the future of church looks like? How may technology affect the gathering of the saints? As we navigate an uncertain future, let’s move in grace and seek to glorify the name of Christ wherever we can.
One place where you can see believers come together and worship in new and interesting ways is at the K-LOVE Fan Awards. As we celebrate the biggest names in Christian music and more, fans will also find opportunities for fellowship, social engagement, charity, and worship of our Lord. Find out how you can join us for the ultimate fan experience by clicking on the link below.