Jumpstart Your Bus Ministry with a Campaign
By: Ryan Thompson
The purpose of the bus ministry is to “go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in” that God’s house may be filled. Campaigns are an effective and enjoyable tool that can be used to reenergize our bus routes as we labor for this worthy cause.
If you are in a position of leadership in the bus or Sunday school ministry, I would like to encourage you to plan some campaigns for 2010. Let me offer a few tips and ideas that have been implemented in my experience over the years:
1. Have annual campaigns.
We have an annual spring and fall campaign. Generally, these last at least four weeks, and may last as long as eight weeks. Every campaign should have at least one Sunday that is targeted as the “big day” for that campaign. This is the day when we try to pull out all the stops. It will generally be our best promotion. On this day, we encourage our soul winners to plan on spending extra time knocking doors. We set goals for large numbers of visitors and attendees. The big day for our spring campaign is usually Easter Sunday. For the fall campaign, it is usually Pumpkin Sunday.
2. Create a campaign theme.
Choose a theme around which to center your campaign. From this theme, you will choose your team names, your point system, your promotions, and your prizes. In the past, we have had themes that centered on baseball, football, the Olympics, the old west, foreign countries, and other ideas. Really, the possibilities are endless. Anything that creates excitement and competition can be used.
What I thought was one of my worst ideas was a theme that centered on candy. Every promotion had to do with different candy, and the routes were divided into three teams — hard candy, soft candy, and sugar-free candy. How much less creative can you get? This ended up being one of our best campaigns. What I learned was that if the leader and the workers get excited about something, it will work, no matter how “dumb” it may seem.
3. Plan a promotion every week.
The promotions do not have to be expensive. If you get creative, there are countless things you can use as a promotion to help encourage people to come to church. Almost any type of food or toy that can be bought in bulk has been used as a promotion at some point in one of our campaigns. If you are creative and excited, any promotion will work! For every promotion, have flyers designed and copied for the bus workers to use as they canvas neighborhoods, inviting people to church that week.
4. Reward what you want emphasized.
What is the main goal of this particular campaign? Are you trying to build your weekly attendance? Are you trying to reach more adults on the bus? Are you seeking to enlist new workers in the bus ministry? Is the primary focus to have more first-time visitors? Is it a combination of several of the goals listed above?
I offer these emphasis ideas with the understanding that souls being saved and added to the church is always the most important goal of a campaign. Your campaign focus should be reflected in the number of points or reward system you use for the campaign. If you are working to get adults on the bus, then those who bring adult visitors should receive the highest reward for the campaign. Of course, salvations and baptisms are always among the highest rewarded categories in any campaign.
However, before the campaign begins, I assess our bus ministry, pray about what God would have for that specific campaign, and create a point structure that reflects those goals. Then, during our weekly meeting, I tell our bus workers which team and/or individual route is doing the best job reaching these goals and winning the campaign.
5. Make it fun!
Campaigns should be something that your workers look forward to. Do something different in your weekly bus meeting and in your soul-winning time that brings excitement and creates memories. Give away spirit points to the routes and teams that get the most excited about the campaign. All of this creates an environment of excitement toward the main goal in reaching more people.
6. Have a prize. Reward the winning team or route.
In most campaigns, I reward the winning team with prizes to be used for their routes, and I also reward the top three individual routes. Depending on the campaign, I may also reward an individual bus worker or bus rider for bringing the most visitors or knocking on the most doors. Our campaign prizes have been as varied as our promotions. The prizes don’t have to be cost-prohibitive. Give them items that will be a help to them and their bus route.
7. Have occasional “surprise” campaigns.
One-time campaigns have been very successful in our ministry. Don’t just plan on the annual spring, summer, or fall campaigns. Mix it up and run a one-time campaign on your bus route. The bus ministry still works! However, it works in direct proportion to the amount of work that is put into it. I believe that the bus ministry is still the greatest evangelistic tool in history of the world, and a campaign is a great way to jumpstart a bus route, a bus ministry, and a church.
Plan a campaign on your route and in your bus ministry for 2010!
Ryan Thompson is the administrative pastor of North Valley Baptist Church in Santa Clara, California. He is also the church bus director and teaches an adult Bible class.