“Gathering in person reminded us of who we are and why we do what we do.” This week we chatted to Daniel Barnes, Senior Pastor of Stevenage Vineyard to find out about their first Drive-In service!
“So many people in our church community are keen to meet together again, but with restrictions making that difficult at our venue, we had been thinking about what we could do to act as a ‘stepping stone’ in our journey back to services in person. We partner with other local churches and agencies to provide food and essentials for people in need, and this work has dramatically increased over the last 6 months. One of the churches we work alongside have their headquarters in Stevenage and offered their premises for us to use if ever we needed it. We had been dreaming about the idea of ‘Drive-In’ church for some time and this offer came up at the perfect time as the guidelines allowed us!
Their headquarters is a great location: spacious but enclosed, in a central part of town but with enough room to make noise! Members of our team guided cars in from the dual carriageway with their foam fingers, lined everyone up then when the gates were open and parked them carefully. We had set up a stage at the front – thankfully covered because it rained! We passed out song words in case people didn’t know the familiar, home-grown worship songs. We kept the service fun and interactive so the kids wouldn’t get bored being stuck in the car with their parents! We had a brief talk sharing from the Psalms about not forgetting the benefits of God’s goodness and the different ways God’s goodness comes to us. We threw out heads of broccoli, parachute men and bricks strapped with pocket money for the kids to show people that God’s goodness comes in all kinds of ways. This interaction kept everyone engaged!
The Archbishop from the church premises we were using joined us to say hello and be part of what was going on. They were so grateful they were able to serve us and remarked on the resilience of the church in the last few months. It was great to have connection as a broader church family! After a slightly shorter-than-normal service, and everyone waving hello at each other through car windows, the church drove off, leaving us to pack down. It was shorter, but sweeter given the length of time since we had all been together and seen each other in person.
Feedback from the drive in service was overwhelmingly positive – people were so grateful that they could see each other and worship as a tribe again. It reminded us of who we are and why we do what we do, and provided an opportunity for those who have gathered with us for the first time through our livestream, or while doing Online Alpha, to come along and be a part of our family in person!”