by Ryan Thompson
In January, I wrote an article and shared a poem entitled, “Through the Eyes of a Bus Worker.” I received many encouraging notes and e-mails regarding the article. One of the e-mails was from a teenage bus worker in Iowa, inquiring about suggestions to help her bus route continue to grow and expand in its influence. This e-mail came into my inbox about an hour before one of the bus captains in our church stopped by to ask some questions about his route relating to the organization and growth of his route.
These two conversations caused me to ponder some of the difficulties and challenges that many bus workers, or church workers in any ministry, often face. In God’s work, I believe that one of our biggest goals, and often one of our biggest challenges, is to reach more people and have a greater impact than we are currently having.
This month, I would like to share a few thoughts and principles for bus ministry growth. None of these ideas are earth shattering or revolutionary. They are just tried and true principles that we neglect too often.
So, for the bus worker whose plea is, “Help! My bus route won’t grow!”, I offer these thoughts:
May we never forget that we are soldiers on a spiritual battlefield. Our enemy is unseen and our victory will never be found in man-made methods or the energy of the flesh alone. We must have God’s power! He wants to work for us, but so often we fail to engage Him in our battles because we neglect to pray.
When was the last time you fervently prayed for your bus riders? Are you broken-hearted over their unsaved loved ones, their home situations, their scarred lives? Has it been weeks or even months since a tear escaped your eye as you thought about the lives those who live on your route will live on this earth and in eternity if your bus does not reach them?
I fear that all of us, far too often, seek to do God’s work with man’s power. We must pray and ask God to make us fruitful, effective, and impactful. As Christ taught us in John 15, “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
How can you experience growth in your ministry? Pray!
Talk to others who are getting the job done for God. Ask questions, seek counsel, get ideas, pick their brains, learn from their examples. Iron sharpeneth iron, and there is much to be gained from talking to others who have done what we are trying to do or who are currently doing what we are trying to do. Talk to your pastor, other bus directors, faithful bus workers in your church or in other churches. Send e-mails. Set up a lunch appointment. You get the idea. Continue learning and growing personally, and you will be surprised at how your ministry will continue to grow publicly.
How can you experience growth in your ministry? Learn from others!
Love the riders that God has entrusted to your care. While we should always have a burden to reach new people, we should not do this at the expense of loving and helping those that God has already given us. If your focus is strictly growth for the sake of growth, then it is probably a pride-driven focus. Our focus should be growth for the sake of eternal influence and impact. When this is the case, we will realize that we must not neglect anyone. We must love and invest in everyone we can while we have the opportunity.
How can you experience growth in your ministry? Love people!
How do you find new people? This answer is going to surprise you. After much study, consideration, debate, and research, I have figured it out – you go to new doors! We can organize programs, plan award-winning campaigns, debate growth strategies, and attend conferences on growth. However, none of that will do any good if we don’t go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in that His house may be filled!
There is no secret formula; no magic potion for growth. Just plain, old elbow grease and shoe leather. The more doors you knock on, the more people you will meet. The more people you meet, the more people you will find who need Christ. The more people you share Christ with, the more people will trust Him and have their lives forever changed by His presence in their lives.
Bus worker, may I challenge you to go out and find someone this week who is looking for Christ. Don’t stop until you find someone whose heart God has prepared to receive the truth of the Gospel. The more we go to their houses, the more they will come to His house.
How can you experience growth in your ministry? Invite new people to come!
“We have all eternity to celebrate the victories but only a few hours before sunset to win them.” – Amy Carmichael, Missionary to India
Our time is short and the task is great. The only way that we will fulfill all that God has called us to accomplish is to stay faithful to Him. It is amazing how much can be accomplished through a lifetime of faithful service. I would rather have a faithful “tortoise” of a bus captain than a “hare” that fizzles out after a short period of time. Let me illustrate: If a quiet, unassuming, faithful bus worker sees an average attendance of 48 people per week, 2 first-time visitors each week, and an average of one person trusting Christ per week from their bus route or their personal soul winning efforts over the course of 40 years in the bus ministry (this is not impossible – we have many faithful servants that have been at it for more than 20 or 30 years in our church), that bus worker will have been responsible for a cumulative total of 100,000 people coming to church with more than 4,000 visitors and over 2,000 people trusting Christ as Savior. This would not count any additional converts that those who were saved on his bus went on to lead to Christ.
I would say that is a fruitful life and ministry. How does someone accomplish mind-boggling numbers like bringing 100,000 people to church and seeing thousands of people saved in their personal soul-winning efforts? Through consistent, faithful, weekly service. Too often, we become discouraged, disillusioned, and disinterested because we do not have “bigger” and “better” results week after week. We fail to see the incredible impact that a life of faithfulness can make. Our churches, our children, and our communities need to see some Christians that will find God’s purpose for their lives and then stay faithful to that purpose until He calls them home!
How can you experience growth in your ministry? Stay faithful for a lifetime!
The last thought is to multiply yourself. Recruit another worker to join you in the good work you are doing. Find someone else who will involve himself in reaching the lost for Christ. It has been said that “many hands make light work.” The more people we get involved in the task of reaching the world with the Gospel, the more feasible the task becomes and the quicker it becomes a reality. II Timothy 2:2 gives us this formula of multiplying ourselves and seeing our Christianity passed from generation to generation. We cannot reach our communities without God, and we cannot reach them without the help of every available Christian. Invest a portion of your life every week in recruiting, training and helping others become more effective servants of our Lord.
How can you experience growth in your ministry? Multiply yourself!
I realize that these are all very elementary ideas in the world of “church growth.” However, I hope that one or more of these points will be a help and challenge to you as you seek to do all you can for Christ before His soon return. It is God’s will that our lives and ministries flourish spiritually and numerically. The deciding factor is whether or not we will do the things necessary to put us in a position to be blessed and used in great ways for God.
by Ryan Thompson