A Protestant church in Georgia has added a drive-thru service, says the Post Bulletin.
By the time the Rev. Norman Markle started his sermon, everyone was still in their vehicles — just as planned. The 150-year-old New Hope United Methodist Church is offering a drive-in service, hoping to attract new visitors with an unusual worship experience.
“Maybe they don’t have a church or don’t care to get dressed up to go to church; let’s find a way to eliminate all that,” Markle said. “People go where they’re comfortable.”
The service has all the markings of traditional worship — hymns, a Scripture reading and a sermon — but everything is broadcast over an AM radio station. Attendees can stay in their cars, spread a blanket on the ground or go inside the tiny chapel, depending on where they are most at ease.
Markle is hoping to draw attention to his 88-member church, which is off the beaten path in a suburban Atlanta area now crowded with automotive repair shops, car dealerships and fast food restaurants. He plans to run the services through the fall, or until the weather gets too cold to sit outdoors.
The church hopes to add a monthly communion to the drive-in service, where attendees would be served the bread and grape juice in their cars. Some Sundays, coffee and doughnuts will be offered after worship.
Doesn’t this strike anyone in their cars as somewhat irreverent?
What scares me most about things like this is how you can pretzel yourself into the logic of thinking that any way to get people to come to Mass is good. I believe the only thing saving the Catholic Church from such tom-foolery is the Eucharist.
A recent Sunday drew about 20 worshippers for the drive-thru service. Most of the group sat in their cars and trucks. The crowd included three dogs and several people munching on breakfast as they sang along to “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.”
One family piled on a blanket in the back of their pickup truck with their rat terrier, Kapone, and listened to the sermon. “I think it’s incredible,” said Kapone’s owner, Renee Ford, who’s been a member at New Hope for three years. “I’ve never had an opportunity to worship in the open air like this.”
Yeah, there’s nothing like the smell of exhaust fumes in the morning to inspire awe and thanks in the Creator.
This is not a completely novel concept. Markle said there are 11 churches across the country that have drive-in services today.
One congregation in Pennsylvania started its drive-in service in the 1970s and gets about 70 attendees each Sunday, said the Rev. Tim Stradling.
Here’s my favorite part. You ready? No, really. Get ready.
Since the church is surrounded by homes, worshippers are encouraged to quietly respond to the sermon, he said. “If you’re saying ‘amen’ by beeping horns, you might be waking up a neighbor,” Stradling said. “If I say something and I’m looking for response, they flash their lights or stick their arms out of the windows.”
And the angels continue to weep.