I just walked out to plug in our old diesel church bus for its weekly mission trip around our town. Big Blue is beautiful but starting to show her age. This church has been running a bus ministry longer than I’ve been alive. We all know that longevity is not the test of a ministry’s value, so it’s good to re-think the pros and cons every so often.
Positives of Church Bus Ministry
- Kids come to our programs that otherwise would not. Bottom line, more children are coming to hear the gospel. About 30% of our Wednesday night kids come from the bus ministry.
- Our church is visible in neighborhoods where we have no members. Like many churches, most of our people come from the stable long-term neighborhoods of our city. The apartments and trailer parks, with their more transient populations, house almost none of our church members.
- It keeps our people outreach minded. Our volunteers get to know un-churched kids up close through this outreach ministry. We are constantly seeing new faces that remind us of the many children who are not active in church.
- It doesn’t cost much since we already own the bus and use volunteer maintenance.
- It opens new ways for people to serve. The bus ministry volunteers are pure gold.
Negatives of Church Bus Ministry
- Reaching parents is a problem. Very few churches, ours included, have really figured out how to get the families of our bus kids involved in our church.
- Bus discipline is a constant struggle. There are some frantic moments for the bus monitors; it takes special people to keep 25 excited kids safely in their seats. You might enjoy our sample discipline plan for the church bus. Having a good list of bus games is essential.
- We reinforce poor parenting habits. We preach parental responsibility, but contradict it by picking up these kids while their parents stay home.
- The kids from the bus route are often our most disruptive.
- We see very few conversions. Bus kids are often very open to the Gospel, but we don’t see much long-term fruit. This may be because they move away or because the home environment counteracts what we teach.
- There are safety risks. Any child waiting for the bus after dark makes me nervous.
So what about you? Does your church run a bus ministry? Are the pros and cons I listed here a fair assessment?