ROSCOMMON, MI – “I’ve been just sitting by myself in the parking lot crying and praying for the last two Sundays. Asking God to help me get past this deep depression I’m going through” said Martha as I spoke to her (six feet away through my COVID-19 mask). The tears of gratitude were on her face as she and her husband sat in the church parking lot with their radio tuned to 106.7 FM waiting for the Pastor to share a word from God. This was Roscommon Baptist Church’s first ever Drive-In-Church service, and for Martha, it couldn’t have been better timing.
Certainly Drive-In-Church is not a new thing, but maybe for you and you church it could be. The idea comes from the Drive-In theatre days, when believe it or not, there was no such thing as streaming videos or even video cassette players!
Changing times, creative methods
As you are aware since the COVID-19 virus has arrived, churches have joined the rest of America by “Staying Home and Staying Safe”. The constitution says we have the right to assembly, but that is not the loving thing to do? A few churches around the country have found out that meeting anyway has resulted in the COVID death of their Pastor and other members. Churches have adapted to this “stay at home” order by doing various things to stay connected. Some churches have gone to online streaming on the internet. Others have been doing “Zoom” Bible studies or Facebook live. Calling and letter writing are still a good option.
What exactly is a “Drive-In-Church?”
Drive-In-Church is having the congregation come to the Church and together listen to a live message of their Pastor while in the comfort of their own vehicles. This is accomplished by an inexpensive FM transmitter attached to your church sound system, and the Pastor using a wireless mic to broadcast over an open FM channel. The signal is short range (300 yards), needs no FCC license, and comes in amazingly clear. The congregation is asked to stay in their vehicles, and then they are parked with their windows closed with space between each one. So that everyone can see tall vehicles in the back. With a donated transmitter and a little technical help, my wife Laurie was able to make all this work. If we at Roscommon Baptist Church can do it, so can your church.
The responsibility to share the Gospel
Though the conditions are not optimal, we still have the responsibility to "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine." (2 Timothy 4:2) “You can’t believe how excited I am to get behind the pulpit,” my Pastor, Erikson Aldridge said.
It wasn’t easy for any of the disciples in their day to share the gospel. The wind chill factor was driving the 40-degree Michigan day below freezing, but our spirits soared as we were able to assemble ourselves together as the body of Christ. Pastor Aldridge challenged the gathering out of the book of Romans 13:11-14 with the message, “The Year Of The Great Awakening” (The message can be seen here on YouTube - PART 1, PART 2) Posting sermons on YouTube is another thing that is new for our church.
The impact of doing a “Drive-In-Church”
Pastor Aldridge, Laurie and I tested the system Saturday, and it worked better than expected. The sound clarity was phenomenal. We called all our church members and hoped they would be willing to safely come join us in the morning. I was surprised at the level of excitement that each person had. “We will be there.”
We had about 50 people join us for church Sunday morning in our first ever Drive-In-Church Service. The Word of God was preached. God’s people were encouraged. I received a text from one of my friends saying,” That was an awesome service, tell the Pastor that is the best he has ever preached!”
As Martha and her husband left the parking lot, they stopped and rolled down the window and with tears in their eyes they said, “Thank you so much for holding the service today. We can’t tell you how much it means to us.”
Only God knows what eternal difference it will make that a small church in Northern Michigan stepped out of their comfort zone and held a drive-in church service? We plan to continue the outdoor services until we get the all clear from our Governor. It turns out that the Church is essential after all. Just ask Martha.
F-S Electronics 1W FM transmitter was hooked into our soundboard and the Pastor's lavalier microphone transmitted the signal to the sound board and out of the transmitter to the FM station of our choosing.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Michael Ritchie grew up in Harrison Township, MI. He is married to Laurie Allan Ritchie and they live in Higgins Lake, MI, where they have practiced Chiropractic for 37 years. They have 2 grown children, Sarah and Jacob (Kaleigh) and are grandparents to Lucas. The Ritchie's were saved right out of college and were baptized in Bambi Lake. They have been serving God at Roscommon Baptist Church ever since. His motto is "As a church we need to think out of the box, while we are still above ground". Michael has led the church in many innovative ministries over the years all in the effort that they might win some. "Jesus Christ is my life, without Him am nothing".