Why We Reach Out

Dan Lenington on August 4, 2015

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The outreach ministry restarted here at GTBC about three years ago through the conviction that God wanted us to reach our neighborhoods in a meaningful way. It was pretty rocky that first year as few knew what to expect from a sudden influx of rowdy kids who had no training in church. We have worked through many difficulties, and we will continue to face new ones. However, God has confirmed to us from Isaiah 58 that this ministry is part of His will for our church. Since our kids club will once again include children from our community, I would like to share a few thoughts so that we can all be on the same page as to the purpose and process of this ministry.

Why are we doing bus ministry? First, Christ commands us to reach the lost. We must remember that we were lost once and simply needed the truth (Eph. 2:1-5). Christ came to same sinners not the self righteous (Mark 2:16-17). Also, Christ tells us not to be isolated from the world. (John 17:14-16). Perhaps you've thought that a church full of "spiritual" people is best, but that is not a biblical church. A church is only healthy when it evangelizes worldly people and disciples them.

How are we doing bus ministry? We have a Semi Divided class structure. We have tried combined classes but have found the groups' needs to be too unique. We have tried completely separate classes on different nights, but we don't have the manpower, and we lost the opportunity for our kids to learn how to pray for and reach the lost. The semi divided structure can give each class the teaching it needs on its own level. It can also provide limited exposure to worldly people in a structured environment so churched kids can learn to impact the world and worldly kids can see good examples. We also have a moderated advancement structure. We are no trying to get all children into the advanced Master Clubs/Disciples classes as fast as possible. Newer kids need the basic truths and salvation emphasis found in the Bible Club and Foundations class. A commitment to grow and learn is the only real incentive and criteria for advancement.

How should we approach bus ministry? First, our expectations and attitudes must be right. We must remember that these kids didn't get the training churched kids should have gotten. Don't expect them to act like churched kids. This is a work in progress. Think of them as babes (toddlers) in Christ (2 Tim. 2:24-26). you need to exercise patience and selflessness. Secondly, it is required that you walk in the power of the Spirit of God. If you are in the flesh you will quickly become frustrated. As you walk in the Spirit by confessing any sin or selfishness immediately, you will be able to respond with the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25) such as love, joy, peace, gentleness, longsuffering, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. You must pray without ceasing for their salvation and growth, and for your own ministry to them.

How can bus ministry help your family? It can show your family the pain of worldliness. It can help your family develop a heart to see their peers saved. It gives you the opportunity to deal with the world in a controlled environment. But, how can you protect your family? I understand the fear of allowing your child to hear or see something worldly. We must be proactive parents using every situation as a teaching opportunity. Pray for the children in your kids class by name as a family, and pray for your kids too. Remind them that if they don't apply the truth they've leaned, their lives will be sad and painful like the lives of the kids the see. Remind them not to be prideful since receiving the truth is the only difference between them and the world.

How can we address some of the challenges of bus ministry? One challenge is to help each child learn at his own pace. This is not a bus ministry issue. Every church class has faster and slower members. We want the slower/newer kids to be at church too! We can develop a structure that will help each child to reach his full potential and learn at his own pace. Another challenge is keeping bus ministry from causing conservative families to be uncomfortable. One way to help this is to clearly communicate the benefits and challenges to new families up front to help them understand our philosophy and process. Second, we need to listen to and address their concerns and suggestions quickly and efficiently. Finally, we should respect their choices since parents are ultimately responsible for their children's upbringing.

We understand that bus ministry is a complicated and often difficult ministry. However, we must remember that all these kids need is the truth to become what God wants for them. We must not fear the world for greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Instead, let's storm the gates of hell and rescue the perishing since Christ has promised us all power in heaven and in earth as we walk in the Spirit and not in the flesh!