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Bus Ministry 101
By: Matthew P. Gage

The Bus Ministry is a fairly simple ministry to run. Basically, it consists of getting kids to and from church. Everything else is just a corollary to that simple definition. We visit to see who is riding, we try to find more kids to ride, we get them to church, they hear the Word of God, and we take them home.

Bus Ministries come in all sizes. Smaller churches may have a single van or bus, while large churches may have a fleet of buses. Some may run five or ten riders, others will run hundreds or even thousands. Really it just depends on the size of your church, the amount of work you can put into it, and the area you have to work. It would be difficult to run hundreds in a town of 5,000 people, but it would be very easy to do so in a town of 500,000 people.

If you are starting this ministry from scratch, you need to keep the three "F"'s in mind:

1. Finances
Can you afford to run buses? It costs money to run buses. This ministry will not pay for itself. You need to buy, insure, maintain, and repair vehicles. Gas isn't getting any cheaper, either!

2. Faculty
Do you have people to work the routes and teach the kids when you get them to church? Every bus route should have at least two workers including the driver. You can probably put the bus kids in your regular Sunday School and Children's Church programs. You may need to run a separate program for them. You need teachers and workers for all this.

3. Facilities
Do you have a place for the kids to go? If you church is already packed out, you may need to wait to start this ministry or schedule them for a time other than your regular service.

Here are a few other considerations

Most Riders Will Be From Lower Class Neighborhoods
In every community, there is a need to reach young people. However, some areas will produce larger bus routes. Urban areas with a lot of apartment complexes will create very large bus routes. A rural area consisting of many small towns probably won't. Your bus routes will be a reflection of your community.

Don't expect to build a bus route with middle or upper class kids. The areas you will do the most good in are on the "other side of the track."

Yes, somebody needs to reach middle class kids. You can reach them, but I prefer to get the most return for my efforts. This is especially true for when just getting started. Once you get a route off the ground and then devote some time to these areas.

Slow Growth Is Most Common and Probably Best
Don't be discouraged if you don't fill up a bus in a week or two. It takes a lot of time and effort to build a bus route. I will tell you from experience that the best growth is slow growth.

When a route takes off like wildfire, it is just about as wild and crazy as a wildfire. Slowly building a route lets kids get plugged into your program. It is very hard to even run a program if there is a large percent of new riders.

Your Attendance Will Fluctuate
Keep in mind that bus routes will fluctuate. You may have 30 riders one week and then only 20 the week after that. You can also have a week where no one rides. I have been there. Don't let the lows get you down, but let the high days motivate and challenge you.

Do Set Goals
Be sure to set goals for your route. It gives you something to shoot for. Be realistic with them, however, because you will probably never get 50 new riders in one week.

Someone once said to set goals on the effort you put in and not on the results. That does go very well in the Bus Ministry. You have no control over who get on your bus on Sunday morning, but you do have control over who many new houses you stop on Saturday morning.

Nevertheless, I do like having a goal set for how many riders I'll have ride. A general rule of thumb is that each hour of visiting supports 10 riders.

This information is courtesy of Baptist Basics University, an online source for free Bible and ministry courses, www.baptistbasics.org.

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