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Lessons of bus ministry

By Jeffery J. Fugate

There are countless stories of Christian workers and soul winners that bus ministries have produced.

As I write this article I look at our bus ministry attendance report from last week. It read: Total number of riders – 1,421. Total number saved – 55. Total number of workers – 205.

Now, what have I learned in these 30 years I have been in bus ministry?

Bus ministry is the most productive tool in fulfilling the Great Commission. Each week, as we go into the highways and hedges to bring in those who will come to hear the word of God, we are doing the work that God has called us to do – to  win people to Christ, lead them to follow the Lord in believers baptism and disciple them with the word of God. Time or space would not permit me to tell the stories of the pastors, missionaries, full-time Christian workers and soul winners that the bus ministry has produced through all these years.

Bus ministry requires planning, organization and leadership. As we read of the work of Jesus and his disciples, we quickly notice that their work was planned and organized, and Jesus provided leadership. One important thing to note is the number of times Jesus taught his disciples away from the multitudes – a “staff meeting” of sorts.

Jesus gave his disciples simple instructions, such as how to feed a multitude of hungry people, as well as instructions on doctrine and the focus of their work. Jesus constantly reminded his disciples to keep their eyes open to the harvest and the need for workers in the harvest.

Look at the bus ministry not as an expense but an income provider. You may say, “We cannot afford to have a bus ministry.” The truth is, you cannot be an obedient church unless you are in some way going into the harvest field and bringing the lost to Christ and to church. Perhaps you cannot afford a fleet of buses, but the mandate to win souls is plain and evident in the Scriptures. Further, you cannot ignore that we are instructed to reach out to the poor, the unfortunate and the “least” among us and bring them to Christ.

Some years ago a pastor told me that I would go financially broke trying to run buses and bringing in boys and girls to church. The truth is, God has so blessed our bus ministry it would take me a long time to tell you of the financial and personal blessings we continue to receive. I could tell you of those who serve in our church – wonderful families rearing their own children for the Lord who were reached through the bus ministry.

I could tell you of the businessman who visited our church on a Sunday and, seeing the faithful work of our bus workers, gave our church a check for $1 million! I am not saying that every church will receive a million dollars for working in the bus ministry – I am saying that I have learned that God provides as we care for the poor and those in need.

Bus ministry requires wisdom. One big reason many do not participate in or operate a bus ministry is because the work is hard. The bus ministry can be a source of contention if it is not operated with care and wisdom.  One example is the wisdom of organization. Just as we have nurseries and children churches for the little ones in our church, we must reach the young people of our cities in an effective and wise manner.

Currently we run special church services just for the young people who ride our buses. These services are designed with these young people in mind – from the songs that are used to the messages that are preached. They need to be reminded of simple doctrinal truths and simple behavioral principles.

I trust these words will inspire more churches to get involved in the most effective and productive soul-winning ministry in America.

Jeffery J. Fugate is the senior pastor of Clays Mill Road Baptist Church in Lexington, KY. The church’s bus ministry runs 24 bus routes, bringing more than 600 people to church each Sunday. Dr. Fugate can be reached at pastorfugate@msn.com.

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