Why does your church need a bus or van ministry? This outreach program provides opportunities to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19-20). Through a van ministry, unchurched children can hear and respond to the Gospel. Plus, kids are able to participate in Sunday school, children’s worship and other activities. And they might even encourage their entire families to join them!
Through a bus or van ministry, the local church moves outside its walls to the streets of surrounding neighborhoods. Community members begin to know the church as not just as a building but as a group of caring people. In turn, the church gets to know the people and their needs—and can develop relevant ministries.
Finally, a van ministry provides a church with the potential for sustained growth. Effective transportation programs help a congregation grow in numbers and in these areas:
- More people will become involved in ministry and use their gifts to serve.
- More people will take on leadership roles and develop as leaders.
- Children who ride the bus or van will grow up to serve in that church or elsewhere.
4 Key Components of a Successful Van Ministry
Because you’ll need to consider many things when developing a bus or van ministry, first begin with prayer. Seek God’s direction about all these issues: What routes will we travel? How will we get buses? Who will volunteer to serve? How will we minister to the children? How will we connect with their families?
2. Pastoral Support
Don’t move ahead until you have the green light from your pastor and the support of the church leadership team. Keep their support by involving them as intercessors and by communicating regularly.
3. Committed team
A bus or van ministry will succeed only if everyone is onboard. This includes bus personnel as well as Sunday school teachers, children’s worship leaders, and anyone who serves in kidmin. Communicate with the team regularly. Build community by spending time together and affirming each member.
People mistakenly believe that if they buy buses, determine routes, and pass out flyers, they’ll have a successful van or bus ministry. But this program is successful only when the bus ministry team is willing to spend time building relationships with children, parents and others along their routes. We can build relationships by being in the neighborhoods regularly, getting to know the children and their families by name, and, when possible, meeting their needs.
10 Steps to Starting a Bus or Van Ministry
1. Establish a purpose statement.
Will you run routes any time other than Sunday mornings? Some churches have a van ministry program on Saturday; is this an option your church might consider? If you don’t have a children’s worship service, will you start one or have the bus riders sit in the adult service?
2. Prepare the church.
Help church members understand what you’re trying to accomplish. Share the benefits of being involved in this outreach ministry. Also keep people aware of what problems may arise.
3. Obtain vehicles.
Do you have a bus or van you can use, or will you need to purchase vehicles? If you have to buy buses, is money in the budget, or will funds have to be raised? Who might be able to recommend a good place to buy a bus or van, if necessary? If you plan to use smaller vehicles, consider 15-passenger buses instead of vans.