If your picture of Christian bus ministry is full of positive attitudes and well-behaved children–you must be new! Don’t feel bad; bus ministry, while vital and exciting, is challenging for many, even the experienced volunteer. Prepare for explosive growth in your ministry by establishing discipline guidelines. When parents, teachers and children know what to expect, there’s less chance for confusion and frustration. Create a safe environment for kids with simple, structural rules.
Also, do expect to troubleshoot problems but temper everything you do with kindness. Pray regularly for the bus ministry and your personal involvement. Ask God to help you be patient, but firm in a manner that pleases Him. The key is to spend more time discipling and less time disciplining, right? Remember to avoid making complicated rules that won’t easily be remembered.
- Head, shoulders, knees and toes: Remember that old song? Use it! Introduce it to your bus families and explain that heads should face forward and shoulders rest back on the seat. We should keep our knees and toes on the ground and not kicking others. Explain that heads and hands that hang out the window can get injured.
- No standing or squatting on the seats or in the aisles. Everyone must be seated throughout the trip.
- Swearing and shouting are not tolerated on the bus.
- Everyone must participate in the bus service. No bad attitudes are allowed.
- No drinks, food or backpacks are to be brought on to the bus—Bibles only.
How to Enforce the Rules
- Don’t scold or reprimand children in front of their peers unless the situation calls for immediate action.
- Speak in low tones when you want to bring the volume down. Speak loudly to get attention but use this “power” sparingly.
- Stoop down to eye level to speak to children. Never stand over them in a manner that could be interpreted as intimidating.
- Involve supportive parents when their child misbehaves.
- Don’t argue with bus riders. Move the rider your seat on one by you and discuss the matter once you’ve arrived at your destination.
- Provide children with the opportunity to do the right thing. Don’t back kids into a corner.
- Don’t make threats about discipline unless you are prepared to follow through.
Don’t Forget These Details
- Give every bus rider a copy of the bus rules when they first attend. Review it with them and don’t assume that they’ve read it independently.
- Go over the rules regularly.
- Have a bus ministry program prepared. As bus ministry pioneer Bill Wilson says, “If you don’t put on a program for kids, they’ll put one on for you.”
Stick to your guidelines and you’ll have a friendly, exciting ministry that everyone will want to be a part of.
Read more from Mimi by visiting her blog, “Encouragement for Christians.“