The Epidemic Seems About Over Here!
Yes, the plague of the bus ministry, with the accompanying reward motivation, children's Bible hour and puppet ministry, seems to be dying out here in Northwest Alabama. Here in one of the places where the bus ministry was first promoted among churches of Christ, the church bus population is dwindling. It appears that in the not too distant future we may have about as many active Joy Bus Programs as we have hula hoops. It took about five or six years for the fad to run its course.
The bus ministry cycle is quite interesting. Most bus ministries around the country that are still flourishing were promoted two, three or four years after they began here. The life span of most bus ministries will be determined by the tenacity of the local preacher. However, most bus ministries will finally have almost identical histories.
The bus ministry almost always starts with a preacher. Yes, with few exceptions it was an aggressive, promoting preacher who pushed, pressured and demanded that elders accept the bus ministry! Elders and others who resisted were shamed as being lazy, without vision and insensitive to the needs of the lost. So, in order to initiate a bus program it was essential to line up the elders and gain access to the church treasury.
From that point forward the story is almost always the same. Buy the buses, train the workers, work the routes and haul in the kids. At first there is always the excitement and enthusiasm that the activity and the bigger crowds will spawn. Next comes the building program! With dozens more attending it is supposed that the church needs a new building with a larger auditorium and more classrooms. Then comes the reality! The mortgage payment is staggering. The confusion at services is unbearable. The continual week after week work load on the bus workers and drivers is exhausting. The buses get old and the maintenance cost soars. The damage to the building and the discipline problems are unbelievable. Tempers flare and patience wears thin. Bus riders quit in droves. And finally when everyone has about reached the breaking point, the buses are sold -- and there is a sigh of relief.
Truth Magazine XXII: 21, p. 346