In late March, Bridge Church—a CRC church plant in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta—submitted an application to Resonate Global Mission requesting $3,000 to host a drive-in Easter worship service in their community.
“This is a HUGE opportunity to reach people in the COVID-19 crisis,” wrote Pastor Ryan Pedde.
It was. On Easter morning, more than 240 vehicles pulled into the parking lot of a local recreation center, where Bridge Church was hosting the service. Through surveys, Ryan and his church discovered that more than half of the 800 people in attendance don’t have a church they call home. Not to mention the 3,000 people tuning into the worship service from somewhere else.
Throughout the service, 25 people texted in during the service to say they wanted to give their lives to Christ. Now, Ryan and his team at Bridge Church are following-up with people and discipling them.
“Even before COVID-19, we were dealing with all sorts of different challenges in our congregation and community,” said Ryan.
Alberta was hit hard by a drop in oil prices, and a lot of people in the Fort Saskatchewan community lost their jobs—and then the coronavirus hit, adding more unemployment, health concerns, and uncertainty.
“It’s hard on marriages, hard on families,” noted Ryan. “A lot of mental health struggles. People are hungry for God right now and looking for hope and belonging and purpose for their lives.”
Pulling off a drive-in worship service in the middle of COVID-19 wasn’t easy. Ryan knew the local recreation center was the only parking lot big enough to hold enough cars, but the first time he approached staff of the center, they said no—not without approval of an insurance company. Ryan spent a week on the phone with the church’s insurance company and government health services before Bridge Church was given permission to host the event.
With funds from Resonate, Classis Alberta, and other churches, Ryan said this Easter drive-in worship service was a denominational effort.
“We did it with really strict guidelines,” said Ryan. “Six feet between cars. Windows up. People weren’t allowed to leave their cars. We were only allowed 15 people to run the whole event … that’s the worship team, that’s preaching, that’s parking crew, that’s media and cameras.”
But God has surprised Ryan and his church. Bridge Church has gotten a lot of press for safely pulling off a big worship service during the pandemic. The worship service was featured on the front page of the Edmonton Journal, they made national news, and the CBC invited Ryan to speak on a faith panel about returning to worship.
Through it all, Ryan and his team have been able to share the hope of the gospel with people.
Only one year ago, Bridge Church was meeting in a living room for worship. Since then, the church plant has grown: 300 people call Bridge Church home, with about 150 attending worship each week. But since the coronavirus forced restrictions on in-person gatherings, thousands of people are tuning into worship online.
“I think COVID-19 has taken away a lot in all of us,” said Ryan. “It’s kind of laid our souls bare … on Easter I preached about how in this life, there are all these different places we go for satisfaction or comfort, but when we look for hope, we come up empty. In Christ, we can find hope for today and for tomorrow. That resonated.”
Ryan has been leading discipleship classes over video call for people who have committed, or re-committed, their lives to Christ.
“We should see some baptisms here once we can meet physically again,” said Ryan.
Thank you for supporting church plants through Resonate! You help make it possible for people to hear the hope of the gospel and connect with a faith community they can call home. Ryan asks you to pray:
- For people who have committed or re-committed their lives to Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to minister to these new believers and heal any past hurts, remove any burdens of shame or guilt, and give hope, peace, and joy in exchange.
- For Ryan, the leaders, and volunteers of Bridge Church. Pray for God to give strength, encouragement, wisdom, and resources for discipling people.
- For Bridge Church as they transition from online worship to gathering in-person again. Ask God for wisdom to safely transition and welcome new people into their community.
- For those who have been tuning into Bridge Church’s worship online. Ask the Holy Spirit to continue working in their hearts and that they will find a church community when worship gatherings resume in person.