On a Sunday in Lucas, Texas, churchgoers didn’t file into pews. They pulled into parking spots.
Vans and trucks drove into the parking lot of Lovejoy High School to be part of “Sanctuary Under the Sky,” Rev. David Ray’s new drive-in church.
“The sound is transmitted over the car radio so they just tune into the frequency that it’s set to. They can hear, they’re encouraged to participate. Everything that the congregation is asked to do is printed in the bulletin,” said Ray.
Ray, pastor of Presbyterian Church of the Master, stands in the parking lot conducting the service as churchgoers watch through their dashboard windows.
Ray started what he’s calling “Sanctuary Under the Sky” this past Sunday. This is the third drive-in church that he’s launched. He’s previously led one in Pasadena, Calif., and another in Jackson, Miss.
“It has been an effective way to reach people who are very skeptical about religion. I recognize that there’s a uniqueness factor to it that grabs their attention. I’m not particular as to the reason why a person attends…my desire for them to be present overrides everything else,” he said.
On Sunday’s inaugural service, church attendees told ABC Affiliate WFAA about choosing the drive-in church service because they wanted to wear shorts or preferred to be alone than sitting in a group.
Ray, who is in his seventies, said that a drive-in church allows people to worship who might feel uncomfortable in a more formal church setting.
“It makes attendance possible for some folks that would find it difficult or impossible to attend a church service…a special needs person or couples with special needs children, persons who are grieving and not ready to get back in a crowd yet, people going through temporary emotional problems…people not accustomed to church or they’ve had bad experiences at church,” Ray said.