We live in a world in which people are striving to get rich quick, seek to loose weight by taking a pill, or have their dinners handed to them in bags while sitting in their cars. In this current state of affairs, it is not surprising the church is unwilling to go through the hard work of explaining the gospel, that people are totally depraved, that God is wrathful, and Jesus is not an effeminate man sent here to make you feel good. The church has adopted the idea that salvation is easy and that people only need to recite a few words.
The idea of drive through or easy salvation starts with churches accepting the premise that people are too busy and the church needs to shape itself to match the world. Many families today are so busy they no longer sit down at a kitchen table to eat a home cooked meal together. Instead, they choose the convenience of having someone hand them a prepared meal in a bag through a window and then quickly eat in the car on the way home from the restaurant. This creates no time for fellowship with the family which is time to learn what happened during the day when the family was separated and create a time of bonding between family members. Many churches have taken this same approach to God’s family. Church is a time set aside for the people of God to come together and worship Him corporately, to fellowship together, and encourage one another. However, there is a movement in America to belittle these actions by simply providing drive through service.
A few examples of current drive through churches, a church in Texas, Presbyterian Church of the Master, has just started “Drive-Through Church” (www.cbn.com/tv/1396313287001). A church in New Jersey, Hope United Methodist Church, has just opened a drive through for people to just swing by with problems (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jun/4/drive-through-church-in-new-jersey-gets-a-blessing/?page=all).
Why does this matter? The first century church set an example of how God’s people should come together to worship (Acts 2:42-47), and there is no mention of a man walking up or riding up on a camel or donkey to satisfy some ritual. Instead the description is of God’s people coming together daily to learn and be involved in each other’s lives. The catechism teaches us the purpose of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. Can a person truly glorify God by staying inside their vehicle and privately “attending a church”? How can a person truly enjoy God by never venturing outside their car and rushing through to get their religious ritual out of the way. Is the food eaten on the way home between the restaurant and the house really enjoyable? The Bread of Life which God has given us is much more important and much more satisfying than a burger in a bag and should be given more importance.
While churches have put little emphasis on worship they have put less emphasis on the importance of salvation. Where the church has not set up a drive through window for salvation (yet), they have done basically the same thing with this idea of the “sinner’s prayer”. Today many churches visit people door to door and the visit goes something like this:
Church member: “Hello we are from church X.”
Church member: “Do you know what happens when you die?”
Person: “Not really”
Church member: “Then say this prayer by repeating after me … “
What is the difference between this experience and a drive through church? Sharing the gospel and ensuring people’s understanding of salvation is one of the most important duties we as Christians have, because of the eternal consequences. How many people have been brought to a false sense of security because they repeated a prayer and did not fully understand their sin condition or what they were doing? Jesus said, “the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those that enter it are many.” (Matthew 7:13). Giving people a false sense of their salvation could surely place them on the broad road, which would be a travesty. The bible teaches that, though it is a gift from God, salvation is not something that comes easily. It cannot be worked for, but it must be worked out with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) and therefore is not something that can be handed out at a drive through window. Simplifying salvation down to a single hear and repeat event is no different than simplifying worship down to a drive though service.