SABBATH SCHOOL busing ministry, I believe, is one effective way to put the "go" in the great commission Jesus gave, "Co . . . into all the world." Busing ministry is not simply a convenience to bring our own member ship to church, but an evangelistic outreach in the hand of Cod to harvest entire neighborhoods for Jesus Christ.
Pastors in our field who desire to participate in this program are supplied a copy of Winning Souls Through Buses, by Jim Vineyard. So far we have also been able to take each of the pastors committed to the program to a Baptist busing ministry clinic, which has proved very worth while. Following this, we introduce busing ministry to the congregation in business session by means of a slide program.
This plan involves members in visiting house to house the bus is just the instrument of transportation. In each team there is a captain, assistant captain, hostess, safety boy, and driver. The captain is committed to visit a minimum of three hours a week, as are as many of his team members as possible. Everyone who is riding his bus thus receives a visit every week. Along with this, new families are visited and also invited.
The hostess is usually a teenager, with a ready smile; one who can call the children by name and make them feel at home as they get on the bus. She talks to them about their dogs, cats, and goldfish, and sits with those who need it, ready to participate with the assistant captain in the program on the bus. The safety boy is also a teenager, who will carry a bright-red flag on a short pole, so that when the bus stops he can step out, keeping one hand on the bus, and extend his red flag to stop cars and allow the captain to cross the street with the child who is being picked up. The driver's responsibility includes maintenance. It is highly recommended that the driver have a chauffeur's license. In case of accident this helps legally.
Individuals working on the busing ministry team need to be basically sound Christians and have a sufficient knowledge of the Bible to lead a person to Jesus Christ. If they cannot do this, they should not be on the team, for winning people to Christ is the purpose of busing ministry. Persistence is as essential in evangelism as in selling. Note these statistics from page 47 of Winning Souls Through Buses: Forty-eight percent of all sales men make one call on their prospect and then quit. Twenty-five make a second call to this same prospect and then they quit, too. Fifteen per cent return the third time to that prospect before stopping. This totals 88 percent of all salesmen who go out to sell. The remainder of salesmen, 12 percent, make 80 per cent of all sales that are made.
Visiting may be done through out the week, then each home on the resulting pick-up list must be contacted by telephone early Sabbath morning. The caller simply states, "This is Mr. Jones, your bus captain. The bus will be by to get you in about an hour."
Normally, visiting should begin in the church neighborhood and work outward, inviting parents and children to attend. This reduces potential conflicts in the beginning of the program by bringing children together who already are acquainted.
On the Bus
Spiritual education begins on the bus route. A poor experience here can negate all teaching at the church. Use songs the children will be learning in Vacation Bible School or Sabbath school; use Bible games, such as "Who Am I?"; show a large Bible story picture and quiz the children on it; have a good story to tell Bible or character-building stories, such as those in 50 Character Stories, by Charles and Ruby Treadway.
In the Church
The Sabbath school leaders in the divisions need to be planning on at least doubling their attendance in an average church. In a small church the percentage will be higher if the program is worked successfully. When it comes to the worship service, there are two methods that can be used. One is to establish a separate worship service, graded by age for the young people. The other is to simply integrate your bus children into your congregation, involving young people in the worship service. Occasionally have one read the Scripture; have junior deacons and let two of them help each Sabbath; have a story especially for the children where they are called forward and this is a special time devoted to them; have an adaptable adult in the church sit with those children whose parents do not come with them.
The individual church should decide what equipment is best suited for its needs. Some like the expandable van, some go all the way to a 60-passenger used school bus. The average piece of equipment in busing ministry is a school bus that is eight to ten years old. Choose equipment with a good body, seats, glass, running gear and tires. If tires need to be replaced, use recaps, for they are not going to be on the highway at high speed and recaps come at a fraction of the cost. Avoid Diesels and rearmounted engines.
The best place to purchase a bus is from a school board that is getting ready to dispose of its present stock. These have been kept in good shape; the running gear and brakes have been kept up well to maintain safety. You may have to replace an engine, but that is inexpensive compared to the unit itself. These units sell from $1,400 to $2,500 at sealed bid or auction.
The booklet "School Bus Driving Tips #ST341-71" is most helpful. It can be secured from Safety Activities Department, Chevrolet Division, General Mo tors Building, Detroit, Michigan 48202.
The public school board of education offers special training for bus drivers. They are usually happy for a church bus driver to attend. Arrange this through your local county board of education.
The driver never leaves his seat and all children must stay in theirs as well.
We have used two methods for recruiting personnel. One way is through presenting the program in a sermon and requesting people to register their willingness by signing a commitment sheet. The second, and probably best, method is to study your congregation carefully, determining who could work best in each specific activity of the team. After a Spirit-filled sermon on the subject of child evangelism and busing ministry, speak to these people individually. Tell them that you are praying that they will see their way clear and feel the Lord's leading for them to be part of this team.
From our experience to date we have learned that this program is successful and will grow if you keep at it. It usually begins rather slowly, but if you do not become discouraged, you will eventually be surprised by its growth and effectiveness.