A New Look At The Bus Ministry

Fred Foster

Luke 19:10 – “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost!” The Lord has made it unmistakably clear that His purpose in the affairs of man is to seek and save!! We have acknowledged that His purpose is to save, but we must agree that “to see” is the prerequisite of “saving” the lost. Jesus has reiterated His purpose to us all through His ministry. He has made it clear that sinners will not seek out the church, but that the church must seek out the sinner. Luke 14:21, 22,23 — “…Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in hither the poor and the maimed and the halt and the blind…and the servant said, ‘Lord it is done as thou hast commanded and yet there is room’ and the lord said unto the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled.'” It is God’s will that His house be filled and He informs you and me that it is our job to fill it. The Bus Ministry is not an instrument to get children to Sunday School for attendance sake. Nor to reach for a good number to report in our periodicals, but to reach these souls for their souls’ sake. We can never save them until first we seek and find them.

Jesus tells us to go to the streets and the highways. Does this not depict the Bus Ministry? He tells us where those that will come are. And then he tells the church not to despise them when they are
brought to Him. God forgive us if we are not willing to open our door to all those from the streets and highways and make them feel welcome in our church. Let us be a friend to men and children who “walk the road of life.”

Jesus gives us an example in Matthew 19:13, 14 — “Then were there brought unto him little children, that
he should put his hands on them and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

The wise man said in Proverbs 22:6 — “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” The church’s job is to train children, not just those of our own families, but also those from the streets and highways.

One pastor related the story of a young woman who came one Sunday morning and received her baptism in the Holy Ghost. He then learned after talking with her that she had been brought to the church
five years before from the streets through the Bus Ministry and taught God’s Word. Her testimony was, “I could not get away from the Word I was taught.” It is yet to be determined how many young people
can be harvested for the Lord through a dedicated Bus Ministry. Jesus said, “Bring them to me.” We do this by taking them to His church.

Jesus was moved with compassion when he looked on the multitude and saw them as sheep having no shepherd. And He said to His disciples, “…the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.”

Souls are lost today not only because of sin, evil, worldliness, Satan, etc., but because the laborers are few. So many have not until now caught the vision of the work that can be done by becoming a laborer with Him in the Bus Ministry.

The cry of our Lord today is for laborers to go into the harvest field. The world is the field and the
field is where the grain is harvested. Oh, for dedicated pastors and laymen that will refuse to be satisfied with the “every-now-and-then” revival of souls but will say to God, “We are ready to go into the field and bring in the grain.” Those that you will bring to church on your bus have mothers and fathers that we have failed to reach, but we can reach them through their children.

The Bus Ministry’s purpose is to fulfill the “great commission”– to preach and teach the gospel to every creature — young and old!


The most important leader in the local church Bus Ministry is the pastor. This is not to minimize the responsibility of the Bus Director, Bus Captains and workers, but the pastor, in his position as leader of the local church, stands in the unique position of making the Bus Ministry a strong evangelistic arm in the outreach program.

The Pastor – The Leader

The church can go no further than the pastor leads. The Bus Ministry, to be the aggressive, forceful thrust into the community that it can be, must have the complete dedication
of the foremost leader of the church.

No one in the church is looked to for guidance and direction more than the pastor. His influence reaches into the life of everyone in his congregation. If a program is to be successful in the minds of his people then he must give it his total involvement. So, also the Bus Ministry!

The Pastor – The Motivator

The pastor is the key man to make the Bus Ministry go. He must motivate his people deeply in this work. He must give the people he leads the vision of the great potential such an endeavor can bring to pass in their church and community. Proverbs 29:18 says, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish,” and
the exciting vision that the Bus Ministry brings into a congregation can be the best thing that has ever happened for the winning of more people than ever before.

The Bus Ministry should be mentioned from the pulpit often. Appeals for new workers should be made frequently. The captains, drivers, secretaries, workers and if a church has a bus director – should be kept before the congregation. They should be complimented for jobs well done. When awards are given they should be given before the largest attended service of the church. This constantly reminds the
people of the fine work the Bus Ministry is doing and the great contribution it is making to the total church program,

The Pastor – Out Into the Streets

In most cases, to begin the Bus Ministry in the local church, the pastor must take a leading part of the actual work out on the streets. He must not feel it is below his dignity to knock on doors or to find children in the streets and playgrounds attracting them to want to ride the buses on Sunday morning. When the people see his example they will usually follow, thus the pastor is the inspiring
shepherd that leads his people out into the field that is ripe to harvest.

The pastor will most likely not have to continue to have a route or teach others the “how to” on the streets after he has built up his bus attendance. However, he should continually be the guiding
strength in giving sound direction to this highly important area in filling the Lord’s house on Sunday.

The Pastor – His Responsibilities

1. He must oversee this phase of the church program as he does all the other phases.

2. He must constantly feel the pulse of the Bus Ministry, keeping informed of all the problems and seeing that they are taken care of.

3. He should keep the Bus Ministry need of workers constantly before the people. He should make the Bus Ministry such an important phase of the church that the people will be constantly challenged by its
tremendous potential.


The workers are far more important than the buses. Many churches have had buses in the past and because they did not choose adequate personnel and train them in the proper methods to keep the buses filled with riders, many of these efforts failed. There are many great methods to use, and workers utilizing these methods will have very successful bus routes. This is what we are interested in.

Recruit Personnel

When recruiting workers keep this in mind:

1. They must make a solid commitment to work in the bus ministry several hours a week. (At least 3 hours should be a minimum)

2. They are helping to win souls.

3. They must be available and dependable.

4. They must be trained.

5. They must surrender themselves to this ministry.

6. They will be doing a most rewarding work.

7. They must perform the job.

Bus Ministry Director. Someone must oversee the bus program. This person could be the pastor, the pastoral assistant or an energetic layman. Whoever it is they must be zealous for the Lord’s work and able to inspire others. In smaller churches the pastor may have to take charge of the direction of this ministry, or if there is a capable, enthusiastic Sunday School Superintendent or other layman, he
may want to give this responsibility to them.

If the director is a person other than the pastor, they must of necessity run the work with the advice of the pastor, and recognize the pastor is the final voice in decisions. This is the greatest importance.
The bus director should:

1. Recognize the great responsibility of his work.

2. Be able to establish and maintain a successful bus route.

3. Be able to inspire others.

4. Be able to take pressure.

5. Foresee problems.

6. Anticipate blessings.

7. Be available on Sundays for emergencies. He should start on Sunday morning when the workers start and stay until they have finished their routes.
8. Make sure all buses have the proper repairs between Sundays.
9. Anticipate the need of new routes and with the pastor’s advice put new personnel to work.

The Bus Director should further:

1. Plan and promote special days.

2. Compliment and show appreciation often to all the bus workers.

3. Give bus captains “credit” for a job well done.

4. Visit with the captains that need help or set a regular policy of visiting with each route every so often.
5. Emphasize the need of punctuality. (Buses being on time and running the routes in regular visitation and picking up the riders, rain or snow as well as when the sun is shining.)

Bus Captains. On the route itself the Bus Captain is the key to the success or failure of the bus route. Being the responsible person in the assigned area of his or her bus route, the bus captain must see to it that everything possible is done to make the route as successful as possible.

The Bus Captain should:

1. Recognize he or she is completely responsible to the assigned area.

2. Look after those who ride the bus as a pastor looks after his people.

3. See that those who work on the route are on time.

4. Visit all riders weekly. (Saturday is the best visitation)

5. Contact new people weekly to keep the route growing and take the place of move outs. (Saturday is the best time.)

6. Follow all leads for possible prospects.

7. Visit route and new prospects at least three hours per week. (The more hours spent in visitation, the more riders on the bus.)

8. Exert every effort, backed by much prayer, to be loving and kind on visitation and on the bus. See to it that all workers do the same.

9. See to it that the riders get to their respective Sunday School classes and back to the bus after class.

10 . Keep good records according to Bus Ministry procedures.

11. Work in complete harmony with the Bus Director and pastor.

12. Keep in mind that each rider is a soul bound for eternity and your work may be the means whereby they will be saved.

The Bus Captain should further:

1. Remember he represents his church and the Kingdom of God and act accordingly.

2. Report any major problems to the Bus Director.

3. Make sure the bus is kept clean.

4. Pray that God’s blessings will be upon his work.

Secretaries and Workers. The Bus Captain cannot do the job alone. A secretary to keep records and other workers to assist in visitation and discipline and order on the bus, are needed in the Bus Ministry. The
Bus Captain is training these workers to their best potential. From these workers can come Bus Captains in the future.

These workers should work in assisting the Bus Captain in any way needed to be the blessing the Lord wants them to be to the job of filling the buses.

Driver. The driver should be trained in safety, promptness and appearance. He should be properly licensed, faithful and cooperative in working with the Bus Captain. He should see that the
bus is ready to leave on time and in some Bus Ministries it is his job to service the bus.


Bus Captain, this is your route — make it a giant success!

Beginning the Route. The visitation should be started by 9:30 A.M. on Saturday. Meet at the church for prayer and last minute instructions from the Pastor and Bus Director, and then it is out on the route.
Local church brochures telling about the church should be carried by each worker so the people will know you are from a church.

Many successful Bus Ministries have their workers take ‘Bubble gum” to give to all prospects. This is inexpensive but a real treat to any child.

Look for children! In the streets, on the playgrounds and vacant lots — they will be there. Enthusiastically approach them, giving them bubble gum and a highly motivating invitation to ride your bus to the best Sunday School in the city. Talk on their level and be excited about what you are doing. Most children will want to go when approached in this way.

Now it is time to talk to the parents. Give the child a brochure and go with him to his home. Normally the child will arrive before you do and already be talking his parents into letting him ride the bus.

When approaching parents make sure you offer an attitude of confidence in your Bus Ministry and church. Tell them your bus is driven by a safety conscious driver and will be down their street Sunday at a certain time. Assure them you would be happy to take their child with you to a fine Sunday School. Remind them of these things:

1. You and your church love children.

2. You will take them safely to church and safely return them to their home. This offers security to this family that their children will be in safe hands.

Look for children’s signs if you do not see children. Look for tricycles, bicycles, toys, slides, etc. in the yards of homes. When you see these things you know children live there. Approach this home to
offer free Bus service to their door and leaving bubble gum for each child even if the child is not at home at the time.

Enthusiasm and faith are the two main ingredients that go into the attitude of the worker that attracts people to the bus route. Enthusiasm causes excitement and people like to go where exciting things are happening. Faith that God will help you fill your bus is vital. It will cause you to believe that every where you go people will want to go with you to Sunday School.

In beginning a new route remember:

1. Be enthusiastic and have faith.

2. Spend as little time as possible at each home. When the parent says the child can go do not branch off on another subject. Close as quickly as you can because there are others that must be visited.

3. Be kind, courteous and concerned. This will make an impression at each home.

4. Find something to sincerely compliment if possible. (The child, the child’s manners, the home, yard, etc.) It must be sincere though as sham shows through. Sincere appreciation opens many doors.

5. If you talk to the children before you see the parents, the children will help sell the parents on the idea of riding the bus to Sunday School.

6. Never argue regardless of the person’s attitude.

7. Let nothing discourage you. If you don’t get them at this house you’ll get them at the next.

8. Explain that the children will have constant adult supervision on the bus and at the church.

9. Make sure each family where there are prospective riders receive a church brochure. A special bus brochure is excellent telling of the bus ministry with pictures of the buses and the classrooms in action.

10. The name of the Bus Captain and his home telephone number are to be placed on the back of the brochure.

11. Place also the approximate time the bus will be coming by. Have a definite understanding of the time.

12. Emphasize the bus color and tell them not to get on any other bus.

13. In case they are not sure about riding with you, tell them you will come by for them anyway.

14. Take the name, address, telephone number, birth date and age of each rider for your records. (Read chapter on “Records”)

15. Leave the home with a smile, God bless you and we will see you in the morning.

16. Talk directly to the children as you bid them good-bye. Make them feel your love and concern for them.

17. Spend as many hours as possible. No less than 3 hours, at least the first Sunday.

Getting them to Sunday School on Sunday. You have worked hard on Saturday and you have a lot of promises to ride your bus on Sunday morning. Now you must get them there, make them happy they are there and make them want to come back next Sunday.
1. The bus route must be started at a particular time. The bus team must be on time Sunday morning.

2. Maintain good discipline without being harsh.

3. Make the first pick up the rider that lives the farthest from the church. This way each rider is on the bus the least amount of time.

4. It is best to go to the door to pick up the smallest children and return them to the door when taking them back home.

5. Some of the older riders can help you on the bus. (Lead singing, tell a Bible story and give out gifts.)

6. Do all you can to help the riders enjoy their ride on your bus. You want them to come back next Sunday.

7. Fill out the triplicate form for each new rider. (Read chapter on “Records”) One goes with the rider to the class secretary, one goes to Bus Ministry office and one is for the Bus Captain’s records.

8. On small children you can pin the class form to their shirt or dress.

9. See that the children go to their proper classroom.

Getting the Riders Back Home. Sunday School and morning worship is over and now it’s back to the buses. An enjoyable morning has been spent and now we must get them back home.

1. Make sure each rider knows the number of your bus and where to go immediately after service is over.

2. Cheerily and enthusiastically welcome them back on the bus. Check them off your records as they get back on the bus.

3. Do not leave until each rider is back on the bus.

4. Make sure that no rider from another bus gets on your bus by mistake.

5. On the way home see if each rider will help you get more riders to promise to ride the bus. You can take names and addresses of those prospects.

6. As each rider leaves the bus give them something pleasant to remember their morning by. This can be candy, toy, gum, souvenir, something printed, etc. This helps the trip to conclude with pleasant thoughts.

7. Bid them a warm goodbye and you will see them next Saturday and Sunday.

Keeping the Bus Route Going. It is one thing to get the route started and quite another keeping it going Sunday after Sunday.

The Bus Ministry is one of the most challenging works a person can become involved in and that is exactly what it is — work. And the secret to a successful bus route is work, work and more work.

Much of what makes a bus route function well is carrying out the many principles outlined under “Beginning the Bus Route.” The same courteous, kind and loving concern must be a part of the bus workers life.

To maintain a successful route the Bus Captain must:

1. Dedicate at least 3 hours or more to the route.

2. Usually meet at the church at 9:30 A.M. Saturday as you did to start the route.

3. Have prayer and receive last minute instructions from the Pastor and Bus Director.

4. Spend the first part of your time visiting the homes of the ones that have ridden your bus.

5. Give a warm friendly greeting to children and parents alike, reminding them you will be by Sunday morning at the time designated.

6. Remind them of any special promotion.

7. See if they know anyone that will ride so you can visit them.

8. Spend only a minute or so at each house as you have a lot of valuable time.

9, Make the visit warm, friendly, kind and always give each child a piece of bubble gum. (What a sweet remembrance of you is on their lips!)

10. After a few Saturdays you become a welcome friend. This relationship keeps people riding the bus.

Revisiting these homes is not all that must be done to keep the route going strongly and growing. New prospects must be gone after each Saturday.

After the route has been visited, it is time to try to make the route grow. Doing the same things learned under “Starting a Bus Route,” spending several hours enlisting new prospects will cause a growing route. If this is not done the route will go down. People move off the route and there are some that will normally lose interest. These must be compensated for by getting new ones each week.

Bus Captain, it’s all yours now. Go to it! Make your route a great one. It is being done and you can do it too!


Records are vital to a successful Bus Ministry and especially to the route. Having the names and addresses of each rider on each route provides the church an expanded mailing list for the various special meetings and events planned by the church.

To the Bus Captain these records give in a moments review the rider’s consistency in attendance. It also provides the captain a mailing list for any special promotion they are having on their route.