01 Apr Utilizing a coach to shuttle your congregation. Bus outreach, shuttle ministries.
Not all shuttles are about moving people to and from work, or to ease the congestion of busy holiday shopping. Church shuttles, or bus ministries as they are typically called, are a way for active churches to interact into their communities and bring those members who may be incapable to get there otherwise. When you are ready to look at how a bus ministry may help your church and your community we anticipate helping you establish an affordable, safe and reliable solution.
Think of a church bus dragging into a neighborhood where children jump up and down and go to the door even before the vehicle stops. All of these youngsters really want to come to church! But what’ll meet them when they get to the church building– kids who excitedly embrace them? Members that welcomes them? or people who groan when “these” kids don’t appear to abide by all the churchy rules? If your bus ministry is operating right, these kids will come across the love and grace of Jesus Christ.
Rod Baker, a former bus supervisor and outreach pastor at the Church on the Move in Tulsa, Oklahoma, weekly remained before countless inner city boys and girls transported on 48 buses from Tulsa and the surrounding metro area. Baker had served 12 years in bus ministry– an area of outreach that he completely advocates– mostly because it allowed children a chance and a refuge to get out of to a new environment where their minds and hearts open up and “the walls come down.”.
Three elements made up Church on the Move’s bus ministry successful: vision, organization, and structure. Not everyone in the church had the vision; however leadership from the head pastor fueled the ministry. Once served as a bus minister himself, the head pastor at Church on the Move.
Each week the church teaches up to 17,000 kids. Around 11,000 of these kids come to sidewalk Sunday school in their own neighborhoods.
According to children’s pastor Chris Blake, the central concept of the 15-year-old ministry is that “it’s better to build boys and girls than repair men and women.”
On a smaller but equally as meaningful scale, Dave Diehl, a children’s pastor at Central Assembly of God, in Cumberland, Maryland, operates a bus ministry that gathers children on Sunday mornings for Sunday school, the beginning of a worship service, and children’s church. The program includes prayer and stimulates children to pray for one another.
Beati n’The Bushes.
Every Thursday and Friday, drivers visited kids’ families and sought out new families. On Sundays, the buses picked up kids who wanted to be part of the church.
A normal Saturday began with a half hour of praise and prayer. The program was high-impact and fast-action. Scheduled from beginning to end, all the parts fits like a puzzle– even down to the chant “All Hail the Power of Jesus’Name.” Each month centered around a theme such as obedience.
It was essential that there was no “dead time”; the kids listened to preaching exactly on the bus. Theme prizes including whistles and candy donated by the organizations who worked as motivators. Volunteers fed the kids, instructed an object lesson, played a game, and taught a Bible lesson. The goal of Saturdays was clearly sharing God’s love with unchurched kids. According to Baker, the reason for tightly packed activity and teaching is that “you may see some kids for 16 hours all together and never see them again. You must teach it in a manner they can run and take with.”
Saturdays constantly ended with a chance for kids to respond to God’s love.
Like Oil and Vinegar.
What’s the best way to integrate bused kids into church life? Blake believes in setting up a separate program for bused kids. He’s seen the frustration of teachers who don’t know how to deal with behavior problems; kids’ confusion from mixing bused kids and churched kids; and, too many times, a final decision to shut down the program because of the trouble it causes.
Baker agrees with Blake. Church on the Move ran its bus ministry one at a time from its weekly Sunday school because mixing the two programs belongs to mixing two different cultures. There are too many barriers to overcome for reliable ministry to occur to the churched kids and the bused kids all at once. One culture has learned structure; one has little structure. A separate program for the bus-ministry children also creates an enjoyable environment. Baker doesn’t assume it’s kind to “mix Sally in a beautiful Easter bonnet with Johnny who hasn’t bathed.”
He says that bus ministry is a means to tear down barriers between different cultures. The key, Diehl says, is to treat all children the same, to model love and acceptance, and to react immediately to any negative comments or treatment with loving yet firm correction.
At Metro Ministries, a group of 1,000 children sits in two groups– boys on one side, girls on the some other. Most intently watch the front, where a dynamic speaker stands between two sets of four balloons.
Blake says that “if you don’t put on a program for kids, they’ll do it for you. The children regularly obtain the message that it’s a privilege to be involved.
“The process teaches kids to behave.” To create structure, Baker advocates clear boundaries for kids: “Whatever standard you hold for the children, they’ll rise to it. It’s easier to discipline kids if they know that Mom knows these people and these people know Mom.
Getting to know families helps Metro Ministries attain their ultimate goal: to change New York City– beginning with the children, reaching to the families, spreading to the neighborhoods, and finally transforming the entire city. Publicity in the last few years has revealed Metro Ministry’s success in reaching their goal. The New York City police department has suggested a significant crime decrease in the geographical areas where Metro Ministries runs their bus ministry routes.
To aid improve church support for outreach, children at Diehl’s church attend Sunday-morning services. The bused kids settle with volunteers and Diehl’s wife and daughter. At the time of an open welcome time, kids go through the church shaking hands and constructing relationships with adults. When adults stand to receive prayer, many times all the children surround them and pray.
The valuable cargo on each bus that rolls into churches weekly is the infinite souls of children whom God loves. Diehl says it poetically: “Every week God helps you to hold his kingdom in your hand. The way you hold them will make a difference in the way these rubies and diamonds shine.”