Calvary Chapel of San Bernardino has been conducting online streaming church services for several years, reaching out to those who are not able to attend regular services during the week. But it’s not only the normal church services that are streaming now, the men’s bible studies have been conducted using Zoom ever since the social distancing orders were initiated. Youth Pastor Daniel Barrios has been reaching out to the church’s youth by streaming on YouTube, while Children’s Pastor John Deming has been reaching out to youth via YouTube and Facebook, by using storytelling with a biblical message.
But now, Senior Pastor Lee Coe has taken the church to the next level. Since April 26th, Pastor Lee has been conducting drive-in services while simultaneously streaming online and broadcasting live on an FM radio channel. In order for everyone in their cars to see the Pastor at his pulpit, Pastor Lee perches himself on the roof of the church building facing the parking lot. Shrouded by a canopy, a podium, and banner baring the church’s name and logo, lighting equipment, electronic microphones, and cameras; Pastor Lee doesn’t miss a beat as he teaches from the bible and encourages his flock during this coronavirus crisis.
Several cars in the parking lot were all facing north towards the church. Many of the cars had multiple passengers.
Signs are posted for people to stay in their cars at all times and to tune to the selected FM radio station for the live broadcast. A large screen was placed under the patio with chairs scattered six feet apart to maintain social distancing. This was set up for those walking in from the street or for those that had trouble staying in their vehicles.
Several security volunteers roamed the church facility and parking lot to keep order and help with traffic, parking, and answer questions from this new mobile congregation. There are normally two Sunday morning services and so there were also two drive-in services as well.
Erika and Edward Ruiz have been attending the church for over two years. While Edward worked security in the parking lot, Erika tended to her 8 kids all packed into her minivan. Erika was asked why she came to church during the lockdown; she said that she missed her church family, and everyone would be safe in the car.
Services started with the Worship Team who sang and played their instruments from inside the sanctuary while live streaming. Many of the worshippers in their cars had smartphones, which enabled them to view the Worship Team live from the church’s website. Pastor Lee was able to deliver a Mother’s Day sermon (A Mother of Great Faith) live to hundreds of people at home and in the church’s parking lot.
Sylvia and Kalvin Melvin have attended the church for over 30 years, both retired Law Enforcement. Sylvia and Kalvin were using their smart phones to see and listen to the Worship Team live. They then transitioned to listen to Pastor Lee, while watching him on the roof of the church building.
The one thing you will never see inside the church’s sanctuary: As Pastor Lee closed in prayer with “Amen,” everyone in the parking lot honked their horns as an expression of agreement.
After the service, Ester Coe (the Pastor’s wife) handed out flowers to all the mothers as they were exiting the parking lot. The COVID-19 social distancing rules are changing day-by-day and every governmental agency seems to have their own take on the rules and regulations and how they will be imposed upon the public. However, finding innovative ways to continue the feeding of the church body by its pastors, and encouraging the church through these hard times is not going to be easy, but it’s essential.