Drive Through Worship - Part Two

Paul Dean

The Metropolitan Church of the Quad Cities sponsored a "Drive Through Church" this past Sunday morning. The concept was to enable people to worship in five minutes. They did not even have to get out of their cars. Congregation members were dressed like anglers in keeping with a fish theme. Clowns were positioned to attract cars into the parking lot. Each car was greeted by three anglers, presented with a take home homily (sermon), and a daily Scripture quote. Prayer requests were also taken. The Lord’s Supper was also dispensed in a fishing tackle and bait cup. In part one of this article, we pointed out some of the problems with this move. We continue here in part two.


Note that part of the five minute worship designed for those with little time for God, involved a take home homily. Such a measure is no substitute for the people of God gathered for worship. When the word is proclaimed, it is an event in which the Holy Spirit shows up in power and moves among the people. We are told not to drive through, but to come together and worship the Lord. "And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching (Heb. 10:24-25)." These commands are given in the context of warning. Some were in danger of apostatizing (walking away) from the faith. Apostasy proves one was never saved to begin with and Christians are exhorted to make sure they truly know the Lord. This text also indicates, among other things, that it is more important to gather for worship than it ever has been before as we see the Day of the Lord approaching.


Further, communion was given to each person driving through and the good news is that it was "specially delivered in a tackle box in a clean bait cup." One is at a loss to explain how communion could be distributed in this way to anyone and everyone. The fellowship meal at the Lord's Table represents the fellowship that the saints now have with God and one another by virtue of the sacrificial death of Christ. Paul warned the Corinthians that some of them were sick and some of them had died as a result of their improper treatment of one another and the Lord's Table (1 Cor. 11:20-34). This dynamic still holds true today. Further, unbelievers have no seat at the Table and thus may not participate in the ordinance (Matt. 22:1-14).


Moreover, the demeaning of observance of the ordinance of our Lord, which again, represents His death on the cross for guilty sinners, by dispensing the elements in a tackle box and bait cup is truly beyond belief. I could only have imagined such from an anti-Christian group belittling Christianity. For so-called believers to participate in such speaks to the bankruptcy of biblical knowledge rampant in our churches today. Years ago, and I never thought I would have occasion to pen these words, a friend of mine spoofed his wife by telling her the local Catholic Church had instituted a drive through confessional for the busy communicant. She was appalled. Only when he told her it was going to be called, "Toot and Tell or Go to H_____" did she realize he was joking. Sadly, what the Metropolitan Church is doing is no joke.


In the drive through worship service at Metropolitan Church, people were also able to exit their vehicles and participate in an informal choir in a specially designated area of the parking lot. Brightly colored fish key chains and other items were also given to the drive through worshippers to take home. An offering was taken, of course, and the proceeds will be given to the AIDS Project Quad Cities. We lament the tragedy of AIDS and seek to minister to those with the disease. We counsel homosexuals in our ministry as well and have seen some saved. But, one has to wonder whether or not the AIDS Project Quad Cities is an appropriate use of God's money. We give for gospel advance, not mere social good. We do indeed have benevolence funds, but, for gospel advance. A Christian individual may certainly give to such a project. The question is whether or not the church as a whole should.


Some may yet be asking what's the problem? Shouldn't we do anything we can to reach people for Christ? Aside from the fact that a mixed message is being sent here, the stated purpose of this event was "Drive Through Worship." The fact that a take home homily was distributed, prayer requests were received, communion was served, a choir was provided, and an offering was taken, speak to the fact that indeed the purpose was worship. An outreach element may have been involved, but the primary focus was worship. The problem lies in a total misunderstanding of worship.


On the one hand, all of life is worship as we are to do all that we do for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). If we can't give praise to God for that in which we engage, then we should not involve ourselves in that activity.


On the other hand, corporate worship is when the body of Christ gathers together for the express purpose of worshipping God. As we do, we must worship God in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:23-24); we must worship God with prescribed Scriptural elements (Acts 2:42; Col. 3:16; 1 Tim. 4:13; etc.); and everything must be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40). The "Drive Through Worship" adheres to none of these criteria.


First, one cannot worship God in spirit and in truth if his mind is not engaged with the truth which then flows into heart-felt and white-hot passion for the Lord Jesus Christ. That dynamic cannot be achieved in a five minute drive through experience. Not only is truth not brought to bear upon the mind, but the focus is not Christ, but getting out of the parking lot in a hurry. Drive through worship is nothing more than a tip of the hat to God. It is nothing more than an attempt to placate the Deity with dead works.


Second, while an attempt was made to bring in some Scriptural elements in the drive through event, there was no public reading of the word. There was no doctrine taught. No fellowship was had. Prayer and giving were just a tack on. Communion was viewed as something to be trifled with in terms of presentation as it was distributed in a tackle box and bait cup. The fellowship that believers have with Christ was not highlighted or honored by gathering around the table. Further, the table was not fenced as it should have been according to 1 Corinthians 11. To offer communion to just anyone, especially the unsaved, is to destroy its meaning.


Third, how can a circus atmosphere in a parking lot be said to be doing things decently and in order? Does anyone really believe God is honored by people who can only spare five minutes of their busy time to pacify His apparently unreasonable demands? Remember Gamble's statement: "People will be busy doing any number of activities but we want to allow folks to have a moment or two, if that's what they can spare, to think about worship.'


Moreover, in terms of reaching people for Christ, in terms of evangelism and worship, we have already stated that worship is an end in itself and not an evangelistic tool. The church gathers to worship and scatters to evangelize. At the same time, unbelievers may come into the worship service. If they do, only when they see true worship, orderly conduct, honor given to God, and hear the word will they be convicted of sin and converted (1 Corinthians 14). Consider the principle Paul lays out in 1 Cor. 14:23-25. I have made some application in parentheses. Paul warned: "Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues (or demean God by wearing clown outfits or angler outfits and distributing communion in a tackle box and bait cup), and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy (speak the truth of the word clearly), and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you." That powerful dynamic can hardly happen in a drive through worship setting.


In 2003, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Main Place Christian Fellowship, a Southern Baptist congregation, established a drive through facility in a photo kiosk across the street from the main building. "It was especially valued by unattached Christians." One may presume an evangelistic intent on the part of this congregation. At the same time, worship is the emphasis. More alarming is the statement that the drive through is valued by unattached Christians. As the reality of the church and its nature is lost in this setting, as people are encouraged to give God only what they can spare, as so-called Christians remain "unattached," not only is God dishonored, but many are sealed into a false sense of security regarding their salvation. Salvation is not religion.


In fact, salvation is a vital and living relationship with Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Himself said, "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say (Lk. 6:46)?" Paul warned in 2 Tim. 3:1-5: "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves...unthankful...unholy...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!" Again, our Lord Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Matt. 7:21-23)!'"


Gamble went on to say, "In our church, we believe that God created each and every one of us as good, and we celebrate that." Now it becomes clear. Theology drives practice and the notion that "God created each and every one of us as good" militates against evangelism and worship. If people are good, they don't need to be saved. If people don't need to be saved, then why worship a God who saves? Let's just be religious because we enjoy religion. Remember, "...Jesus Christ has [come]...that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy (Rom. 15:8-9)." If we don't need or know mercy from God, we don't have any reason to glorify God. Then of course, we don't belong to God's church, but to "our church," as the lady said.


[Scroll Down for Part One]