44 thoughts on “Reader Submitted Photo: Bus Ministry Attendence”

  1. LoL@ “Salvation Date.” I was going over an application to teach at a Christian school, and among the personal information fields (next to things like “Name” and “Address”) was a blank for “Date of Salvation.”

    Le sigh.

  2. How I managed to make it through 22 years in fundy churches without ever being involved in bus ministry is beyond me.

  3. I love the statement about keeping the kid home if he’s (she’s) infectious. I wish there was a box to check about the kid not behaving like an absolute savage. It seems our church’s bus ministry attracted the most rowdy and undisciplined bunch. Our assistant pastor would have some kids literally sit on their hands during the services just to try and control the “mob”. Our pastor would brag about how many of these kids were “coming to Christ” and meanwhile in the junior church, the same kids would be kicking Bibles around on the floor and hitting each other with hymn books. We would have one guy preaching and a least two other adults (minimum) standing guard to keep some kind of order for 20-30 kids. Nice way to spend your Sunday – headache and blood pressure through the roof. You know where you can stick the bus ministry…

  4. Used to be a song leader on a bus route. Also served as “crowd control” fairly often, since Richard Sullivan brought it up. Bus ministry can also dominate your entire Saturday, going around town on bus visitation, checking up on those who’ve been absent, and scanning yards for kid’s toys so we can go invite them to ride our bus to church.

    In response to Amanda, may I submit that not all IFB churches are into bus ministry? It seems bus ministry is primarily a phenomenon of churches that are friendly with the Jack Hyles wing of fundamentalism. Not all fundies are.

  5. @John D. Chitty, oh, I’ve been a very involved member of fundy churches with big bus ministries. I just somehow escaped ever being personally involved in them myself.

  6. o_O Wow.

    The strong class warfare that resulted in our big-bus-ministry churches startled me. Growing up in the working class Detroit area, the “bus kids” were the spiritual proletariat that every decent Christian would fight for. To that church’s credit, many of those “bus kids” grew up to be productive and active members of the same church. That says a LOT to me personally. But I didn’t think we needed to exploit conflict between the proletariat and this more bourgeois “church kid.” But whatever.

    Down South here, however, it’s even weirder. The big-bus-ministries are for [hushed tones] the black folk [/hushed tones]. They have entirely different buildings, services, etc. and are never seen by other “folk.” o_O When you mention that to the powers that be, it’s like you have lobsters crawling out of your ears.

    Weird, weird stuff. I’m prepared for the Northern class warfare stuff. I’m not prepared for the Lost Cause stuff.

  7. The big-bus-ministries are for [hushed tones] the black folk [/hushed tones]. They have entirely different buildings, services, etc. and are never seen by other “folk.”

    I’ve actually seen this in the North too — mostly in more urban areas where they are busing in ‘city kids’

  8. Thank you, Darrell. The South isn’t the only enclave of racial problems in the US, especially since the migrations to inner cities beginning in the 1930s and 40s. As a Southerner, I got picked on enough at Bob Jones. Lay off.

    Re. John D. Chitty: My church growing up had a “bus ministry” but was entirely independent of Hyles and his weirdness. We only had one 15-passenger van and I think at the bus route’s height it was making two trips before Sunday School. And it manifested all the “crowd control” and “mob” aspects everyone else has described. Some of those kids were okay, but most of them were wild.

  9. Lay off.

    Do we need to have a little talk-to-Jesus time, Jordan? What’s with the antagonism toward me?

    I asserted an observation of mine. I wasn’t slamming *you* personally. At all. I can talk at length about the racism in Warren, MI. On and on. Right here and now, if you wish. It was a sundown town, after all.

    SFL: taking uncomfortable observations personally.

  10. Ok, we’re slapping the broad brush all around.

    Take a deep breath, everybody. We’re all (and by all I mean some of us) on (more or less) the same (sorta) side here 🙂

  11. Rereading my post, it sounds far angrier than I intended. Sorry. I just woke up and I’ve been sick all week, so my brain isn’t running at peak performance. And epic lulz at the endless series of qualifiers.

  12. Why would any one care if the name of the parent was not the same as the child’s?
    If your last name is the same, I do not need to know your name, but if it is different, I do need to have your name on the back of the form.
    This is the first form I have every seen that asks about the last name of the parent in this manner.

    1. And is it just me or does this look like a triplicate form?

      It does indeed look like that.

  13. My Assemblies of God church in Savannah, Georgia had a bus ministry. However, they didn’t bus minorities to the church, they bussed kids from the local trailer parks, just about all of whom were white. The regular congregation was fairly well integrated, particularly for a southern church.

    I worked crowd control a number of times on the bus ministry. I still get the shakes if I think about it too long.

  14. My home church had a bus ministry for about 6 years – it just wasn’t worth it. To their credit, they realized it was faux-ministry, designed to give the appearance of a lot of kids in church. I think for bus ministry to really work, someone has to make home visits to the families who send their children to church and create relationships, otherwise the church has developed an elaborate free child-care system.

  15. Had a thought – as much as we could poke fun at such ministries and the absurdities surrounding them, my wife was a bus rider as a wee lass. Because of that inroad, some men from the church were able to evangelize my unbeliever (at the time) fil; he is now the pastor of the church. So, it’s not all bad.

  16. I can still hear Wally Beebe (bless his heart) singing “There’s Room on the Bus For You”. (Though millions have come, there’s still room for one; yes, there’s room on the bus for you.)

    Anyone ever hear the story of one church bus hijacking the kids off another church’s bus?

    Or the kids whose mother thought had been kidnapped, who showed up 2 hours later with wet hair and clothes, announcing that they had gone a bus ride, got free candy and got baptized.

  17. My home church had a bus ministry too, and it was of the Hyles formula. That was because our pastor at the time was a Hyles graduate, and most of the teachers and staff were also HAC grads. We were in a pretty urban Southern California area too, and our buses were filled mostly with minorities. That doesn’t really mean much though, since our church was very much a melting pot. The thing about our bus ministry was that it was basically a free daycare service. There wasn’t as much visiting with the families and building relationships, just trying to get as many kids from the projects as possible. That was the target too…all of the housing developments, I guess because they felt it was “easier”, I don’t know. I also don’t know what the real success rate was. I worked in our churches puppet ministry, so I got to interact with all of the kids, and they were often unruly, but generally not complete terrors. They just had a lot of energy. The thing I noticed though, was that the focus for them was mostly on being entertained and getting candy and toys. I don’t know if the messages they heard each Sunday really sank in…

    My sister and her husband were bus captains at HAC though, and have told me stories of things they dealt with on their routes; goldfish eating and all.

  18. In all fairness to the subject at hand, fundies aren’t the only ones with bus/van ministries. I’ve heard of/seen Methodists, Wesleyan, Lutheran, Presbyterians, and others having a bus/van ministry. I have no problem with a church having some type of transportation available (van or bus), if they can afford it and have the dedication from their congregation to run the thing. The difference I believe is in the intent – bringing in those that actually want to come versus bringing those that could care less just so the church can just count heads and brag about how many riders they have. Many times I would bring people to the church I attended the old-fashioned way – used my car.

  19. I grew up in a pretty racially segregated area of the south and I worked bus ministry at 3 of the mega churches, ( between 1-3,000 people in attendance at each) in that area and at 2 of these churches all, and I mean all, the kids who were picked up were white and they were segregated as well. In my experience it has nothing to do with race, but because they had the potential to drag down the church kids with their wicked unchurched ways. At the 3rd church there was a more diverse mix of kids and the white kids were segregated right along with the blacks. The hispanics were separate there, but only because they had special services in Spanish

    Bus kids were rowdy, sure, we were glorified free child care, sure, but I loved those kids and I loved the bus ministry. Despite the wrong surrounding some of the philosophies and purposes, it was my favorite thing about fundy churches. I loved the opportunity to spend time with so many of those kids who didn’t have anyone at home who loved them and cared about them. My dad was a bus kid and grew up to have a bus ministry and saw himself in every face that got on board and he genuinely loved them, more than he did me usually but that’s okay. Despite his faults and all the wrong with how I was raised I learned genuine love and compassion just like Christ had on those buses and I’ll always be grateful for those lessons.

    Those forms, however, are stupid! 🙂

  20. Why would any one care if the name of the parent was not the same as the child’s?
    If your last name is the same, I do not need to know your name, but if it is different, I do need to have your name on the back of the form.
    This is the first form I have every seen that asks about the last name of the parent in this manner.


    Is it possible to need this for insurance purposes or some legal reason?

  21. Sometimes we can learn from the cults, namely the Mormans. I don’t think they have to bus anyone! Just bring all of their 30 children….just kidding. Seriously, our church has had the great intent–several times over the last 14 years– of a “bus ministry” but it never gets off the ground. The premis is always wrong, not so much as to share the gospel but to “grow the Sunday School”. To get very off track, I have been reading “Through Jewish Eyes” (yes I know, a BJU publ) and the Jewish culture has it so right, train the children under their own roof! Those kids today, as adult, may not darken the door of the local temple, but sure as rain they will light the candles and celebrate Passover! You men in this group, what are you teaching your children? Do you lead? Sorry Darrell, the prophetess has spoken!

  22. Ron Bean mentioned a mom who thought her kid had been kidnapped only to find out he’d been picked up by the church bus, taken to church, and baptized. Around 12 years ago, there was a church in Central FL that was facing a law suit over that very thing: picking up kids and baptizing them without their parents’ consent. That church appeared to have the motivation of “look how many salvation decisions and baptisms we have each year at our church!” Sad.

  23. I credit the bus ministy with helping me to see what was wrong with a great deal of Hyles-Type fundamentalism. I was trained in pray a prayer evangelism and as a bus captain I “led” a mother to the Lord. We were all so excited because we loved her young son so much. Next week I showed up at the house on Saturday very excited to talk to her again only to find the kids sitting in filth and eating out of dirty dishes while their hung over mother was asleep on the couch. It was then and there that I stopped evangelising that way and began examining what I had been taught.

  24. In all seriousness, that permission slip in the form isn’t very good. It needs to be more detailed. Seriously, the church could open themselves up to all kinds of junk with that permission form.

  25. Did anyone else ever attend a church where they not only shipped in kids but also old people? It’s really not that hard of a crossover, both groups love hard candy and are easily impressionable.

  26. Praise The Lord for every soul saved through the Bus Ministry ! Buses are a great tool for evangelism .

  27. Oh I got all of you beat…my church would bring in the “urban” kids, kids from trailer parks, old folks, AND the homeless (but only on big days when the most successful compeler received a two day trip to tour the town the pastor grew up).

  28. If only they’d had buses in the old days! Then the pharisees could have travelled greater distances, picked up more people, and made them twice the children of hell with greater ease.

  29. The bus ministry does strike me as a glorified day care for lazy parents. I also don’t condone the “1-2-3 repeat after me” easy believism that many fundy churches promote. However, if they plant seeds of faith in the hearts of the children that may bear fruit later, then they can be called worthwhile.

    The key to having a real outreach would be reaching the parents, getting involved in their lives, and meeting their needs in love and charity as Jesus calls us to do. But how many churches have the resources, time, and motivation to do that? I suppose it’s easier just to pile kids on the bus and call it a day.

  30. The only bus ministry i ever saw was the one that picked me up a BJ to take me to a large Baptist church in Greenville. Where I grew up, no such thing existed (thankfully).

  31. I’m fairly ambivalent on bus ministries. I’m sure can be good, especially if you actually do follow through & have some good mentoring going on. Just had a kid in my small group opening up about his mom breaking up w/ yet another live-in boyfriend. So sad & hard. I don’t know if we’ll be able to keep him from giving up on life. We’re trying. I wish/hope all bus ministry programs were focused on more than just getting them to pray the sinners prayer, I’m hopeful that at least some are. Good post.

  32. I worked in the bus ministry at my church back home, and was often “crowd control,” and I loved it! When I have the opportunity, I help out with the bus ministry at my church near where I go to college. Their bus ministry is a lot more organized than the one back home. I love the kids, and try to find at least one or two things about each one that makes him or her special and unique. I love the quiet ones as well as the energetic ones and am sad whenever a child moves away or stops coming to church. Many times it was a challenge and there were times when I thought about giving up, but I love it.

  33. On our bus routes, we’d have promotions which were a variation on the theme of “bring a friend, bring your Bible, bring your offering, earn points toward a prize.” One of my bus captains literally gave each kid a dollar for accomplishing these goals. That’s what I call cutting to the chase. No beating around the bush…out and out bribery! Yet bus ministry proponents still argue that it’s not about bribing kids. A rose by any other name smells as sweet.

  34. Yes, total bribery! I used to feel bad about the petty bribery we committed until I saw a documentary on Yogi Bear Sunday School. I don’t know much about what that guy believes but it costs 3 million dollars to run that Sunday School program every year. Our candy bars didn’t seem quite so bad after seeing that!

  35. Worked in three churches in SE GA with the bus minstry. I got to do everything, mechanic, fueler, driver, captain and bus director, so I enjoyed the bus ministry, I had nothing to do with the Hyles thing, never pushed the kids to make a decision, and tried to reach the parents. (One pastor told me that I was a Calvinist 🙄 , but my route had the highest attendance~the providence of God 😀 ) My only gripe was the fact that I was expected to run 20-30 year old buses on the budget for a 5 year old bus. I had the opportunity to see the Lord work in several lives, and seen God save some very precious people. It’s a lot of hard work to do it right, and with the right purpose, and motive it can be a wonderful tool for evangelism. I have seen it used the other way, and was not thrilled at all about it. I do take exception (tongue-in-cheek) about the comments about the bribery, a bribe is to entice to do evil, an incentive is to do something good. I gave out candy to say thank-you for coming. :mrgreen:

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