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Discipline In Bus Ministry

The following page contains input submitted by various children’s ministers subscribed to the Children’s Ministry Today Update (Newsletter).

We encountered the same problems and hated to do it but the man who is heading up the bus ministry for our church and is a very godly man who has a great burden for these children had to resort to telling the children who were very disruptive that they could not ride the bus the next Sunday. These children were disruptive for quite some time and just got worse. We teachers tried to handle the situation ourselves but ultimately the bus ministry leader dealt with the children when they got to the point where they absolutely refused to cooperate. The children were told that we loved them and wanted them at church but they could not be allowed to behave that way. So it worked for some of the children but unfortunately a few decided that they just didn’t want to come back and behave appropriately. I hope this is a help. Pray for our ministry and we will pray for yours.

Karen Whitaker

We worked for a time at an inner city church that included a small van ministry. It was difficult to truly achieve integration of the kids. Sometimes the van kids were simply hungry and couldn’t concentrate because they hadn’t eaten.

Other times, we worked with the elders and sent the behavior challenges into the sanctuary with an elder. One, they weren’t disrupting the rest of the kids. Two, the rest of the kids kind of had a I wonder what’s happened to them perspective which helped settle things down. Three, the kids had evidence that it wasn’t just the SS teachers; it was the whole church that was ministering.

Also, we found that some our kids (e.g., 4th grade) couldn’t read. We had to change the curriculum to be more hands on and physically active (e.g., Superbook Olympics) to be more inclusive of all capabilities. One boy really wanted to carry one of the flags we had, but hadn’t done his homework. So we tutored him before class, which is when we discovered his reading problem. We worked some with him and he became a real leader over that year.

Best wishes and prayers for the fellow worker in this situation!

While in Bismarck, ND we found that non-churched bus kids lived in a totally different culture than our churched kids. During worship, the bus kids would spit on the church kids who were entering into worship, etc.

We finally realized that we were trying to shove square pegs into round holes. We needed to create a square space for those bus kids. We stopped busing on Sundays and began a bus kids service on Saturday. Immediately, we saw our numbers increase and the tension level lower. Our bus ministry Saturday grew to be a higher attendance than our Sunday morning church service for kids. Hundreds of children generally accepted Christ as their savior on Saturdays, and Sunday became an effective equipping and edifying time for our regularly attending families. It was simply the difference between evangelism outreach and intensive discipleship. Different people are at different levels, and we need to make the adjustments to meet them where they are at.

I have heard of another church that simply ran a bus kids service during the same time as a church kids service (but in different locations in the facility.)

I think either way is effective. As a veteran, I’d say that you cannot force two cultures to synthesize in the short amount of time that you have with those children on a weekly basis. It’s time to find a way to divide and conquer.

Randy Christensen
Children’s Pastor

I am the children’s minister at my church where we have considered a bus ministry for the past 2 years. God’s will for us came to be revealed in this way: we were to go to where the children are. We knew of the potential problems in the classroom, etc. and were also short on space. We have a group who goes out once a month to a nearby apartment complex to have Saturday Bible Club instead of a bus ministry. It’s wonderful. This may be an option for you. If you would like more info, write back. God bless you in your efforts!

Robin Kennedy
Oaklawn Baptist Church
Winston-Salem, NC

This can be a ministry that needs a lot of love and devotion set aside to it in order for it to be successful. Here are some tips to help make sure that ministering to the unchurched children doesn’t turn to be too stressful.

1. Check the purpose of the outreach. Is this something that is in God’s master plan for your ministry? Though it seems very good and right, the problems may come due to not having a clear vision for your ministry. Some churches are called to minister to those neighborhoods with a higher socio-background where other are called to a lesser one.
2. If it is the Father’s will for you to minister to those children who are unchurched, link yourself with those of like vision and ask them to participate in teaching and instructing as much as possible.
3. It is right to dismiss unruly children from coming back to SS for a while and/or even coming back for good. Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the other churches. It is Godly to not excuse disruptive behavior though the enemy loves to use this to bring condemnation upon the one executing the judgment. This will bring a great respect among the leaders of the bus ministry than it would if one would let them go loose.
4. Set a rule that children are not allowed on the Sunday morning bus route unless the parents come. Offer incentive as gifts or lunches to those families that come. Do not turn away those who have already started coming but begin with the next one.
5. Be careful of premature growth. This is very damaging and stressful to the bus minister, church, and those assisting in that ministry.
6. In the classroom, remember rewards, rewards, rewards! Promote the good, and do not excuse the bad.
7. In the classroom, encourage the SS teacher to go out of their way to build relationships with the unchurched children. Go visit them at their home. Take them out on a hamburger.
8. As the bus minister, guard yourself against discriminatory, unjustified accusations. I know. If something is ever torn, abused, etc. it is always easier to blame those children who do not normally come to the church. Stand firm and be unmovable.

Jason Rowland
Innercity Pastor
Evangel Assembly of God
Valdosta, Georgia

One thing that I learned from, a Children’s Pastor who trained me up, Pastor Joe Bruce, was to number clothes pins (1-10 in purple, 1-10 in green, etc…). Give every child one clothespin. Make up a spinning wheel of the same colors and numbers. Now have 4 Secret Prize bags on hand, you could put in baseball cards but I use Bible cards available at Wal-Mart, candy, pencils, and such. If the child misbehaves they loose their clothes pin, loosing out on any chance they have to win that prize at the end of the day. The first time you use the pins give the children 2 chances to correct themselves, and on the second chance pull the clothes pin. When they see their friends winning great prizes, they’ll start to behave. It usually only takes a few weeks for them to improve.

Nita Watson

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