Online and Drive-In Churches

Creatively Reaching Members and Visitors in Oklahoma
May 7, 2020

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA. – As the coronavirus COVID-19 began to alter life this March, most of our pastors throughout the Oklahoma Conference began providing weekly, and sometimes daily, devotionals and services for their members, using online platforms such as Facebook Live, YouTube and Zoom. 

Many pastors, like John Moyer and Gilbert Green, connected with the older members to help with technology and drop off Sabbath school quarterlies. They sent weekly letters and called regularly. The conference youth and children’s ministries departments provided online, interactive Bible games using Zoom and Kahoot and sponsored art contests. 

As communities practice social distancing, two churches in Oklahoma, Sallisaw Seventh-day Adventist Church and Wilburton Seventh-day Adventist Church, under the leadership of their pastor Robert Quintana decided to try a new approach: drive-in church. Similar to a drive-in movie, attendees park in the church parking lot, tune in to the designated radio station, and listen to the church service happening live on a stage in the parking lot—all while remaining safely in their cars.

Quintana considered live-streaming a traditional church service, but inspired by a “drive-in church” in Tampa, Fla., he felt the church could offer the members something more. “I think it’s important for people to come together physically,” said Quintana. “You can stay at home behind a screen and get a good message, but something special happens when people come together.” 

Attendees agreed that the drive-in church met both a spiritual need and a social need. “It was a fantastic solution to a modern-day dilemma,” said Christy Davidson, who drove from Van Buren, Ark., with her two children, to attend. “We miss seeing our church family when we’re not together,” said Danan Smith, a lifelong member of the Sallisaw church. “Just being able to see them from a distance gave us a sense of fellowship, like we’re all in this together.” 

“Life is meant to be experienced together,” said Quintana. “This is one way we can help people feel connected during this disconnected time.”

By Heather Quintana and 

Daniel Ortega, Communication Director