How to Start a Bus or Van Ministry
The best definition of a Bus Ministry is that it is a temporary by-pass of a disinterested parent. We want to reach and minister to the child but our goal is reach the entire family.
10 Basic Steps to Starting a Bus/Van Ministry
Step 1 – Decide What Type Ministry God is Leading Your Church to Have and Establish a Purpose Statement – Will you establish a ministry that targets the unchurched or will you simply provide transportation for existing members? (If you are just providing a way to and from church for those who already attend your church, then much of what follows will not apply to your situation.) Are you going to run your routes any time other than Sunday morning? Some churches have their bus ministry program on Saturday; is this an option your church might consider? If you don’t have a children’s worship, will you start one or have the bus riders sit in the main service? Do your homework by reading bus ministry books and talking to churches already involved in the bus ministry.
Step 2 – Prepare the Church – Help your church membership understand what you are trying to accomplish with this new ministry. Make sure they know what problems may arise. People are always down on what they are not up on, if they know the reasons behind something and the potential difficulties, they are much more likely to be supportive and accommodating.
Step 3 – Obtain the Vehicles’ Do you have a bus or van you can use or will you need to purchase vehicles? If you have to buy buses, is it in the budget or will funds have to raised? If you need to purchase vehicles, start your process of locating buses by contacting several churches with a bus ministry and ask them where they bought their vehicles and who they recommend. If you plan to use smaller vehicles, consider 15-passenger buses instead of vans.
Step 4 – Enlist and Train Workers’Sunday School, Children’s Church and Bus Ministry – You will need a bus team and your existing leadership will need to know what to expect when the bus or van start to run. You will also need to enlist more personnel for your Sunday School and children’s church if you think they will be needed.
Step 5 – Arrange for Extra Space – If you’re planning on having 15 or 20 new boys and girls, will your classes accommodate them? If not, do you have space to expand?
Step 6 – Develop the Saturday Schedule – If you are going to run your buses or vans on Sunday morning you will probably want to have a short bus meeting on Saturday morning and visit your riders then. As your ministry progresses, you may find a better time to meet and visit your routes.
Step 7 – Develop the Sunday Schedule – When the bus or van arrives, what will the children do and where will they go? Will they stay for both Sunday School and worship? Do you need to have someone meet the bus and escort them to and from class? Make sure your leaders know where the bus riders are supposed to be and the times and procedures for unloading and loading the bus or van.
Step 8 – Establish the Routes – Decide where you want to run your routes and then design them by time rather than by distance. Most churches find that it’s best if you have less then one hour from the time the first rider is picked up until you reach the church. This will be “trial and error” at first but you will soon discover the time to leave in order to get back on time.
Step 9 – Hold a “Kick-Off” Meeting with Everyone Involved – Nothing breeds excitement like excitement and starting your new ministry with everyone involved in a big meeting is always exciting. Use this time to remind everyone of what this new ministry is seeking to accomplish and that they are all a team working together to make this goal a reality.
Step 10 – Launch the Ministry!
Sample Purpose Statement
The purpose of our Bus Ministry is to fulfill God’s command to “. . . go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that my house may be filled,” (Luke 14:23) offering a place to serve God by being an extension of God’s love to minister to children and their families while providing safe transportation to and from our church.
10 Questions To Ask Before You Begin
1. Why do we want a bus ministry?
2. Who do we want to reach?
3. Who will be responsible? Will it be a staff member or a lay person who answers to a staff member?
4. How much money are we willing to invest?
5. How will this money be provided?
6. How many vehicles will we start with? Buses or vans or both?
7. Does our church membership understand the purpose of this new ministry?
8. Do we understand potential problems as well as the blessings this ministry could bring?
9. How will we provide training for our leadership in this new ministry?
10. Are we committed to making this new ministry successful?
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”