Jumpstart Your Bus Ministry with a Campaign!
The purpose of the bus ministry is to “go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in” that God’s house may be filled. Campaigns are an effective and enjoyable tool that can be used to re-energize our bus routes as we labor for this worthy cause.
I am a firm believer in the importance and usefulness of Sunday school and bus ministry campaigns. This is very likely because my mother and I were reached for Christ on the big day of a campaign at North Valley Baptist Church in 1988. I was saved on that wonderful morning, and our family has been serving in the church ever since. Now, nearly twenty-one years later, I am blessed to have four generations of my family actively involved in this ministry. I thank God for the spring campaign of 1988!
For the past eight years, I have had the privilege to serve as the church bus director here at North Valley. In that time, we have had about twenty different bus campaigns. We just finished up our “Five Week Fall Festivities” campaign. In the month of October and the first week of November, we saw our weekly bus attendance increase more than 25%, with more than 250 first-time visitors over the five weeks! More importantly, the Lord blessed our church with the two highest days of salvation decisions for the year of 2008 during this campaign. One of our routes, which was averaging a little under 60 in attendance each week this year, had more than 100 every week of the campaign, with a high day of 135! We saw many children, teens, and adults trusting Christ as Savior and following the Lord in believer’s baptism every week. Our workers are more excited and committed to the work than ever before because of the great victories of the past five weeks.
If you are in a position of leadership in the bus or Sunday school ministry, may I encourage you to plan some campaigns for 2009? Let me offer a few tips and ideas that we have used over the years:
- Have annual campaigns.
In our church, we have an annual spring and fall campaign. Generally, these last at least four weeks, and may last as long as eight weeks. Every campaign should have at least one Sunday that is targeted as the “big day” for that campaign. This is the day when we try to pull out all the stops. It will generally be our best promotion. On this day, we encourage our soul winners to plan on spending extra time knocking doors. We set goals for large numbers of visitors and attendees. The big day for our Spring Campaign is usually Easter Sunday. For the fall campaign, it is usually Pumpkin Sunday.
- Create a campaign theme.
Choose a theme around which to center your campaign. From this theme, you will choose your team names, your point system, your promotions, and your prizes. In the past, we have had themes that centered on baseball, football, the Olympics, the old west, foreign countries, and other ideas. Really, the possibilities are endless. Anything that creates excitement and competition can be used. What I thought was one of my worst ideas was a theme that centered on candy. Every promotion had to do with different candy, and the routes were divided into three teams — hard candy, soft candy, and sugar-free candy. How much less creative can you get?!? This ended up being one of our best campaigns. What I learned was that if the leader and the workers will get excited about something, it will work, no matter how “dumb” it may seem.
- Plan a promotion every week.
The promotions do not have to be expensive. If you will get creative, there are countless things you can use as a promotion to help encourage people to come to church. One of our campaigns was “Food Fight.” Of course, the promotions each week were different types of food — pizza, nachos, hot dogs, and so forth. The most recent campaign promotions centered on harvest items and caramel apples, candy corn, pumpkins, and other things that relate to the fall season of the year. Almost any type of food or toy that can be bought in bulk has been used as a promotion at some point in one of our campaigns. We have given away kites, balls, candy bars, sodas, family pictures, breakfast on the bus, mystery Sunday, cracker jacks, popsicles, goldfish (best if still alive), church calendars, scarves, candy canes, Christmas stockings, school supplies, stickers, and the list goes on. If you will be creative and excited, any promotion will work! For every promotion, have flyers designed and copied for the bus workers to use as they canvass neighborhoods, inviting people to church that week.
- Reward what you want emphasized.
What is the main goal of this particular campaign? Are you trying to build your weekly attendance? Are you trying to reach more adults on the bus? Are you seeking to enlist new workers in the bus ministry? Is the primary focus to have more first-time visitors? Is it a combination of several of the goals listed above? I offer these emphasis ideas with the understanding that souls being saved and added to the church is always the most important goal of a campaign. Your campaign focus should be reflected in the number of points or reward system you use for the campaign. If you are working to get adults on the bus, then those who bring adult visitors should receive the highest reward for the campaign. We have done all of the above and a mixture of multiple points of emphasis throughout the years. Of course, salvations and baptisms are always among the highest rewarded categories in any campaign. However, before the campaign begins, I assess our bus ministry, pray about what God would have for that specific campaign, and create a point structure that reflects those goals. Then, during our weekly meeting, I tell our bus workers which team and/or individual route is doing the best job reaching these goals and winning the campaign.
- Make it fun!
Campaigns should be something that your workers look forward to. Do something different in your weekly bus meeting and in your soul-winning time that brings excitement and creates memories. Give away spirit points to the routes and teams that get the most excited about the campaign. You wouldn’t believe the types of signs, decorations, poems, gifts, and other things that our bus workers do in order to receive 1,000 spirit points. All of this creates an environment of excitement toward the main goal in reaching more people.
- Have a prize. Reward the winning team or route.
In most campaigns, I reward the winning team with prizes to be used for their routes, and I also reward the top three individual routes. Depending on the campaign, I may also reward an individual bus worker or bus rider for bringing the most visitors or knocking on the most doors. Our campaign prizes have been as varied as our promotions. Again, the prizes don’t have to be cost-prohibitive. Give them items that will be a help to them and their bus route. You may want to give the winning route Bibles for their bus riders, candy, promotion items, a barbecue, an activity for the workers on the winning team, or anything else you can think of.
- Have occasional “surprise” campaigns.
One-time campaigns have been very successful in our ministry. Several years ago, Christmas fell on Sunday. Because of this, Pastor Trieber led us to run our buses on Friday morning, so that the riders and workers would not miss Christmas Eve or Christmas day with their families. For this day, we ran a one-week “Colossal Christmas Campaign” where our church members provided a giant Christmas event for everyone that rode our buses. Every bus rider that came to church received a gift. The more visitors a bus rider brought, the more and better gifts they received. The grand prize for the bus rider who brought the most first-time visitors was a brand new video game system. We had multiple bus riders bring more than twenty visitors each, and the winning rider brought around thirty first-time visitors. We had hundreds of visitors, with more than one hundred people trusting Christ as Savior. What a great day that was for our ministry!
Other times, we have run an attendance or visitor campaign that lasted for a few weeks. Some of our routes have run campaigns where every rider who attends for four consecutive weeks receives a brand new Bible. Don’t just plan on the annual spring, summer, or fall campaigns. Mix it up, and run a one-time campaign on your bus route. The bus ministry still works! However, it works in direct proportion to the amount of work that we put into it. I believe that the bus ministry is still the greatest evangelistic tool in history of the world, and a campaign is a great way to jumpstart a bus route, a bus ministry, and a church.
Plan a campaign on your route and in your bus ministry for 2009!