Picture children running from all directions to climb aboard the church bus. No dragging kids to come to church, no begging or bribing. Real excitement that affects families, even neighborhoods. It can happen—it does happen in the bus ministry! If this doesn’t sound like your bus ministry, you can change that. Start here.
1. Reset the Standard
The standard for an effective ministry shouldn’t be finding a CDL driver and a few happy volunteers. It’s building layers of outreach to create a better ministry, always expecting the best. Outreach ministries like this type can wear you down and cause you to lower you expectations. Raise the standard again. Expect God to do the miraculous and prepare for growth. Get out of any holding pattern you may have gotten in.
2. Do Weekday Work
Better bus ministry doesn’t just occur, it takes weekday work. Living, vibrant ministries that I’ve worked in visited families and kids during the week. Saturdays were designated for neighborhood outreaches. Small block parties, hot dog barbecues and games in the park are just some of the Saturday ideas we’ve used. By the time Sunday rolls around, kids are ready for ministry!
3. Have a Bus Service
Bus ministry isn’t just a transportation service. Children’s church may be the “big show” but what happens on the bus is important too. If your bus trip sounds like this “Alright kids, stop that,” you’ve got kids that need you. Coordinate lessons with the children’s church. Work together to bring a single message home to kids. Use an object lesson, Bible stories and games to teach kids.
4. Prepare Teachers
In the body of Christ, there are a great many teachers. Some are called to children’s ministry but not all are prepared for the bus outreach. To build a better ministry, you’ll have to train and prepare teachers. Give teachers a chance to express their frustrations and ask questions. If possible, take your group to a bus ministry conference or buy the group DVDs from the pros. This can help when your group needs a mindset change. (And who doesn’t occasionally?)
5. Coordinate Themes and Contests
Small tools and incentives are much more powerful when ministries combine. Coordinate your children church and bus ministry lesson ideas occasionally. For example, have a Super Power Sunday. On the bus, talk about God’s super powers in children’s church the teachers can add to the message. I’ve touched on this already but it’s so important.
6. Keep the Church’s Heart Soft
When you live in the “church world” it’s easy to get comfortable. Bus kids aren’t always well-behaved and it may be tempting to keep them in line by keeping them separated from the church. In my experience, this isn’t a good step. I teach my kids to participate in a “hello march.” After we’ve made it to church, we deposit our things in kids church. We make an orderly march to the big church and using our best manners, shake hands and say hello. It keeps the church’s heart soft to kids and teaches kids that they really belong.
Building a long-lasting, effective bus ministry takes time but it also requires purposeful building. Use the steps I’ve suggested and listen to the promptings of the Spirit. Each ministry is different with its own special needs. Allow God to reveal the needs in your community and you’ll grow before you realize it.