“By getting to know them. We discover what they like to talk about. Mark, everyone has a passion, something they are interested in. For Mr. Smith it might be NASCAR, Colts football, deer hunting, or his job. For Mrs. Smith it might be her tomato garden, her kids, soap operas, or Pacers basketball. We find their areas of greatest interest and then talk about it with them. We build relationships. We get to know them.”
By Tim Massengale
Mark North slowly steered the long 50-passenger school bus into the parking lot at First Apostolic Church. Driving around back, he carefully backed it into the designated spot next to the others. Climbing out, he locked the door and paused to look at the five buses, all painted sky blue with a bright red stripe down the side. The church name was boldly printed in white cursive down the stripe. They looked good.
The sound of a closing door made him turn, and he saw Pastor Vernon Baker walking toward him.
“Thanks so much, Elder, for letting me borrow your bus,” Mark said as the elderly pastor drew closer.
“Think nothing of it. Glad to help. Did she drive alright?
“Excellent. I also refilled your tank and I made sure the kids cleaned it out after we got back last night.”
“You didn’t have to do that – fill the tank, I mean,” Brother Baker said with a grin.
“Hey! Least we could do. I’d be glad to pay you for the use if you would let me.”
“No, the Lord blessed us with these buses. They bring in almost two hundred kids and adults on Sunday morning. We dedicated them to the Lord’s work and your youth group is certainly a part of that.”
Both men studied the buses a moment. Mark broke the silence.
“Question, Elder. We have been thinking about purchasing a bus ourselves. But when I mentioned it to my board of trustees, they were not too keen on the idea. They felt the cost of maintenance and insurance was too great for the benefit. So I’m thinking of getting a church van. However insurance on a sixteen passenger van is even higher than for church buses. But we need to do something. Our youth group has grown considerably and trying to get enough cars for youth trips is becoming a problem. Your thoughts?”
Brother Baker arched a gray craggy eyebrow. “So your trustees balked? How did you pitch it to them – just as a transportation tool for your youth group?”
“Yes, pretty much. Why?”
“Because the value of a bus is not measured in youth trips but in souls being saved. Have you thought of starting a bus ministry of your own?”
“Well, the idea did come up at my Annual Planning Retreat. We have been trying to get our Sunday morning attendance up like you recommend and that’s certainly one way of doing it…,” the younger pastor trailed off.
The old pastor nodded. “Bus ministry is more than simply a way to get your attendance up. It’s mostly about souls. We win several dozen children to the Lord each year from our bus ministry. We also win two or three families. When you measure this ministry against lives being changed, it becomes one of our most productive programs of outreach. In fact, I am looking into purchasing another bus when one comes available.”
Mark frowned slightly. “I guess I always looked at bus ministry as mostly a numbers game, a way to boost your attendance. I’ve heard more than one pastor describe it as a ‘glorified baby sitting service.’”
“Ha!” The old preacher’s disgust was evident. “That’s because they don’t evangelize their bus ministry. It’s their own fault if it’s not bringing in souls. We’ve used a concept called ‘Parentreach’ for years and because of that approach, we win a steady stream of youth and adults. I’m telling you, son, bus ministry is one of our most productive outreach ministries.”