Tennessee church holding drive-in services to help preserve community
Gallatin First Church of the Nazarene is getting creative with its services during the COVID-19 pandemic by hosting a drive-in church service in its parking lot.
The drive-in service, similar to a classic drive-in movie, had a worship team on a stage set up at the front of the parking lot. Pastor Kevin Rector then gave a sermon that was broadcast over an FM radio frequency to those in the parking lot.
After one week of hosting Sunday services online via live stream, the staff began discussing other ways to hold services. Children’s Pastor Shaun Stevenson brought up the idea of a drive-in church service.
“As soon as he said it, we jumped all over it,” said Kevin Rector, lead pastor of Gallatin First Church of the Nazarene.
The church averages roughly 200 on a given Sunday. This week, they had 67 cars in their parking lot, loaded with individuals, couples, and families to participate in the service while doing their best to practice social distancing.
“One of our big goals here is to maintain a sense of community and connection in the church,” Rector said. “We are trying to help people stay connected as much as possible in a time where there is a lot of isolation.”
The drive-in service isn’t the only thing Gallatin First is trying to do to preserve the church’s community during these times. The church will begin hosting four different virtual small groups via Zoom, a videoconferencing platform that has grown in popularity during the pandemic. In those small groups, there will be prayer and fellowship followed by discussions based on the sermon that week.
In addition, the church developed a call list of almost every member. The pastoral staff and members who have volunteered will call to check in on people in the congregation and pray with them.
The youth group conducted its normal youth service over Zoom, doing games, worship, and even splitting into their gender- and age-based small groups, all to help preserve the sense of community the group usually experiences. The children’s group has a Facebook live message and response time.
Rector felt it was important to combat the feeling of isolation in any way possible in order to help the church and the surrounding community get through these difficult times.
“The way I described it to somebody is that for a lot of people, the worship service helps to sort of set the pattern of time in our life,” Rector said. “We have these rhythms of time that we go through in our regular lives, and the coronavirus has disrupted a lot of those rhythms. So it felt to me like having an opportunity for people to come to the place they normally come to and see people they normally see; even if it’s just waving at each other through the window, it would bring some sense of peace to people in the midst of that.”