Welcome to Bus Ministry!
The job you just volunteered for is both exciting and rewarding. It's not always easy and it tends to be a lot of work. We ask that if this is your first time in this ministry you give us three weeks before you make a final decision to be or not to be involved - that way you know what you are truly in for in both challenges and victories. Your commitment is for a full year, so pray diligently - those that stay and leave in a lesser timeframe only hurt the children by developing a relationship and disappearing like so many others in their lives tend to do. If you do decide to commit, we assure you your efforts will prove very worthwhile. We do understand that people need time off for family activities, illness, and simply for rest, so each bus worker is allowed eight weekends a year to be absent. All we ask is that each worker be dependable and considerate, and call to let us know you will be absent with as much notice as you can.
This packet is meant to cover just about every issue you could face as you work with us. It is not meant to overwhelm you but to train and prepare you for the job ahead. If you take the time to study and learn, you'll know just what to do, most of the time, and your hands and heart will be free to love and minister to the children rather than worry about details.
(By the way, questions, comments and suggestions to improve are always welcome!)
Standing on a moving bus seems simple enough until the bus stops quickly or turns in a hurry. The idea to safely standing is to lock your feet behind the seat legs and always hold on with at least one hand. If you keep your knees slightly bent, they will absorb any bumps in the road and it will be easier to keep your balance. Also, if you can always have part of your body in the space between the seats instead of standing fully in the isle, you can use the seat backs to help support you.
Walking uses the same principles, but since you cannot always have both feet on the floor braced for support, you will need to hold on with both hands. Be aware of the road - try to walk when you know there aren't traffic lights, large bumps or curves up ahead, always having a plan for if you need to sit in a hurry to avoid a fall. That way you won't accidentally end up in someone else's lap. If an emergency stop occurs, try to lean between seats, so the seat backs will stop your forward movement. Landing on a child's feet is better than going through the windshield!!!
If you are called upon to "spot" for the driver, quickly make your way to the back of the bus. Your job will be to watch as the bus backs up, and communicate with the driver if the bus needs to turn, straighten out or slow down. Be aware of all objects around the bus so you can warn the driver if you see you are getting too close to something. Watch on all sides and don't forget that tree limbs can be a hazard, too!
Usually there is some kind of treat or drink each week on the bus ride home. Drinks are handed out as the kids get on the bus to go home, and drink bottles collected as the kids get off the bus at their stops. This way we can be sure that everyone receives a drink and that all the bottles are accounted for at the end of the day. Please have everyone hold on to their cups until their appointed stop - it's much easier to keep track of each of the bottles that way. (Also note, please be sure lids are tightly closed when put in the bin so that any remaining liquid does not spill and create a sticky mess.)
Treats are handed out after everyone is on the bus, accounted for, and we've had a chance to pray over the food - usually as we pull out of the parking lot. It's best to assembly line the treats to the back of the bus and work your way, row by row, to the front - that way everyone gets a treat and no one gets overlooked or double treats. Once all the kids have a treat, the workers may also have one. When the workers have finished their treats, it will be time to begin cleanup. One worker should be walking the aisle with a garbage bag to collect trash, while another offers paper towels or napkins if necessary. If the kids will be getting seconds on the treats, the navigator shall be responsible to give them to the children as they exit the bus. When all the kids are home, if there are enough treats, the workers may have more if they so choose.
Injured children have trouble listening and obeying. If there is an injury on the bus, workers may use items in the first aid kit to alleviate the problem. (Be sure to have the navigator take note of what you used so the kit can be restocked.) If the injury occurred before we picked the child up and does not seem to pose an immediate need, we request you keep the supplies for a more appropriate situation. (I.e. - "I got a bug bite yesterday, can I have a Band-Aid?" - If the bite is not bleeding, no Band-Aid is needed.) Also, sanitary napkins are available for unprepared young ladies in Pastor Darin's office - see Mrs. Angie for that situation. Special note: We do not give medicine to any person for any reason - no Tylenol, aspirin, cold medicine - nothing. This applies to workers and children. Because of sensitivities to medicines these days, we cannot make any exceptions. If a person is in immediate need of medicine, their parent should be contacted to supply it. If you bring medication, you are the only one who can take it. Workers sharing medication with each other is also not permissible.
Vomit, Blood, Urine, and Body Fluids
Along with the first aid kit on each bus is a spill kit. This kit is for the cleanup of bodily fluids (i.e. - urine, vomit, etc.). If you should need this kit, first be sure the person causing the spill is okay, and then remove those around that person from the situation. Second: INFORM THE ADULT IN CHARGE! The rubber gloves are for your protection (to keep your hands clean since you can't wash them on a moving bus, and also to keep any germs or disease out of your system). Put them on! Begin by containing the spill with kitty litter, and let the adult in charge transfer the mess into a plastic bag using the broom and dustpan Use the spray bottle and clean paper towels to clean the area that was contaminated and then put those paper towels into the plastic bag. Be aware of any body fluids on the child. If the child is covered in vomit, try to give them some paper towels to wipe themselves off. Be sure any towels used go into the plastic bag. Remove your gloves, turning them inside out as you remove them, place them into the plastic bag, and tie the bag off. Then throw away the plastic bag, put the spill kit up and use the antibacterial gel to treat your hands. Be sure the navigator takes note to restock the spill kit, and that the parents are notified of the problem. Do your best to be sure the person is also cleaned up as best as possible and that the seat they were sitting in is also cleaned once all children have exited the bus.
If a child has a bowel movement, inform the “adult in charge” immediately. The A.I.C. will then make a decision on whether to return the child home immediately, or make other arrangements. After child is removed from bus, the A.I.C. will need to clean the seat with cleaning solution. BE SURE TO WEAR GLOVES while cleaning seat.
Bus Break Downs
If the bus breaks down, the main thing is to keep the children occupied while a solution is in progress. The navigator and driver will determine if it's a simple fix or if they need to contact Pastor Darin and will do what is appropriate. Other workers should calmly explain what happened to the kids and then lead in songs, games or something the kids will enjoy to pass the time until either the bus is back on the road or until other transportation arrives. The kids should stay on the bus during the entire process to minimize confusion and risk. There is always someone who chooses that time to express a need to use the restroom. Explain that you will not be sitting there long and have them just hold it until you reach your destination. If it is truly a potty emergency then do your best to find a safe place nearby for the child to be relieved and follow the same procedure you would use if the child needed to go during Children's Church. Be sure it is truly an emergency before you let them go because all the children will get the same idea if you let one go. The main thing is to keep the kids minds off the problem - keep them occupied with fun things to do.
Evacuating the Bus
If there is a need to evacuate the bus, all workers should be aware of all emergency exits. The main worker in charge will announce the evacuation plan to the children (ie - "Listen up! Everyone in front of Suzy go out the front door, everyone behind Billy go out the back door right now. Move!") At that point all workers should help the children exit the bus in a CALM but quick fashion. Then the kids should be brought away from the bus and out of the flow of traffic to a safe place until the navigator and driver announce the plan from there. REMAIN CALM - Any panic displayed by workers will only be magnified in the children. As soon as the children are in safety and a headcount has been done to be sure everyone is accounted for, create something fun to do that will remind them that the situation is under control and assure them that everything is okay. REMAIN CALM AT ALL TIMES.
The rules of the bus are very simple. Basically the kids are allowed to enjoy the ride as long as they are not being destructive or disrespectful. Disrespect should not be shown to other children, workers or the Lord. The children need to be seated for their own safety during the entire ride. Seat changes, within reason, are acceptable but only during a stop that involves people getting on or off the bus. Gum is no longer allowed because of the amount of gum that we've had to scrape off the seats and floors. The only other strictly enforced rule is that, unless it is announced to the navigator as the children enter the bus, everyone gets off at the same place they got on the bus. Anyone not riding the bus home needs to be checked out by the navigator as they leave with their appointed guardian at the end of church.
All rules apply to workers and children alike except the rule to remain seated. Workers are required to stand and move around in order to fulfill their job descriptions.
If there is a problem with someone who cannot seem to follow the bus rules, the workers need to remind that person of the rules. If they do not comply immediately, the consequence is to move the offender to the front of the bus. If they still do not comply, that person gets to sit in a seatbelt (or with a worker if there are no seatbelts available). If the problem continues, the child will be warned that the next step is to contact their parents. If they still refuse to obey, then parents will be contacted. If the problem is very serious, the child should be taken home immediately (if you are on the ride to the church) or be suspended from riding the bus for no more than three weeks (if you are already on the way home). The other workers, the worker in charge and Suspenderman are always available for help in a situation that is beyond a single worker's ability to solve.
Discipline will not be effective if it is not done consistently, without favoritism, and if you do not speak with authority. When correcting a problem, do so with a calm authoritative tone, fully expecting the person to comply. Do not get frustrated or overwhelmed. Do not argue with the child. Simply correct the problem with the discipline procedures above. It is your job to correct problems, but not to take them personally. When you need to speak with a parent, simply state the situation, what was done to correct it, the results, and then ask for their help. You want to use the same approach as when you talk to a parent about a problem with their child during Children's Church. You’re just doing it in the home after the fact, so there is no need to feel intimidated.
When there are special outings, all of the normal procedures and rules apply. Bus workers should help non-bus workers to become familiar with bus procedures, but the only changes in effect will be those announced by Suspenderman before you leave on the outing. Also, make sure all attendance and headcounts are triple checked every time. It is much easier for a child to be distracted and left behind in an unfamiliar situation than in the usual church setting.
Be at the church, seated at the table and ready to leave on ministry promptly at 8 am. Breakfast will be ready to eat beginning at 7:30 am if you need that extra time to be prepared. During breakfast, Pastor Darin will lead in devotions. This is a special time meant to edify and prepare you for ministry – it does not replace your personal time with God – come prayed up!
Following breakfast and devotion time, you will break up in teams to minister, grab your clipboards and leave. Please try to get out to the field as quickly as possible – families leave their homes on Saturdays around 10:30 so it is important we get there early.
While you are out on visitation, you should be familiarizing yourselves with the route. Every worker will be expected to know his or her route forwards and backwards, so it is important to take this time to learn. When you get to the doors, there should be two workers present at all times. Never get more than one arm’s length away from your partner. Always leave the vehicle to talk with the children – even if it means you simply stand and close the door behind you. An adult or teen talking to a child from inside a vehicle looks bad – you could be a drug dealer, kidnapper or who knows. It is much more effective in reaching the parents and community who are secretly watching you to simply get out of the car before interacting with the kids.
During your visit, you should ask the child or parent how things are going this week. Make sure there is not a need that we can address or pray about. If there is, be sure to do whatever is necessary right away (ie- Johnny’s little sister is sick? Don’t just write it down, pray right there!) Next, cover any special needs marked on your clipboard that need to be addressed with that family. Then share what events are on the flier and what times the bus will come. Also, take time to ask if the child knows any friends that they would like to invite to go to church. We want to leave the window open to reach new families and word of mouth is our best chance! When you are finished, go on to the next stop. It is very important not to spend too much time at any one house – it actually works AGAINST the kids coming the next day. Go in, do what needs to be done, get out. The time to really talk and visit with the kids is on the bus on Sunday.
When all visits have been made, make your way back to the church to help with setup and other miscellaneous helps. Please plan to be at the church until about 1 PM every Saturday. (Note: 8 – 1 includes lunch time. Be sure to bring money or a bag lunch if you will want to eat. Thanks!)
Be at the church at 7:45 am, dressed and ready to go or to do whatever needs to be done. Before the busses leave, they need to be stocked with buckets, garbage bags, paper towels and the first aid and spill kits need to be ready to go (inventories of each enclosed in each container). Clipboards should be assembled appropriately, wakeup calls done, Children's Church ready to go, and Suspenderman consulted to see if there is anything else to do before the busses go. If everything is done and there is still time, take that opportunity to get some praying done!
When you arrive at the church, you are responsible to check the clipboards for your route and to be on the bus at the appropriate load up time. We should not have to seek you out to say it is time to go. Instead, we should find you ready and on the bus. All bus workers are required to be in uniform (if you want to dress up for church, bring separate clothes to change into after you get off the bus) including worker shirt (tucked in!), appropriate pants/slacks or jeans or skirt and comfortable but nice looking footwear. All workers are required to wear a watch – if you do not have one, you may borrow a Mr. Potato Head watch for the day, but be sure to return it after you get off the bus in the afternoon so it will be available again next week.
When everyone is loaded up on the bus, we will pray over the route as a group and then pull out. Each worker will have an assigned job to do (covered below) but there are a few things that every worker on the bus should be doing:
First and foremost – love the kids. Take time to talk with them. This is not social time for the workers. This is the only time we get to spend one on one with the kids without structured activity. Take advantage of it! Find out their hobbies, fears, quirks, etc. – really get to know them. This is the time where you make an impact the most. Use it! The children’s Pastor has too many children to disciple, to take much time one on one, or to share his personal walk with Christ. You can. This is why you are a Bus Pastor, not just a worker. You have two hours before and after each service n which to do as Jesus did, and talk one on one to a child about the Kingdom of God, to help them see how God would have them do something or handle a problem. Spread out and minister to the children. (Note: “minister to” does not mean “act like” – do not get involved in petty arguments and childish behavior. We are called to love them and be role models for them.)
Other responsibilities include being alert to what is going on around you. Watch the other kids for potential problems, keep an eye on where we are in the route, know what is going on, and be available for help if needed. All workers should know how to do all jobs – this includes navigating the route if needed. Know where you are and where you are going in case you are called upon to help. Another biggie - be responsible for discipline – if you see a problem, correct it immediately. Discipline carried out consistently, swiftly and without favoritism will keep problems to a minimum and keep your hands free for ministry!
When you get to the church, help the kids get off the bus and into the Children's Church as smoothly as possible. Make sure each child has the opportunity to go to the bathroom and get a drink before service begins and that each child makes their way into service and not into mischief. At this point, your normal Children's Church worker responsibilities take over.
At the end of service, when you notice Suspenderman getting ready to dismiss, please quietly slip out the back to be sure the busses are ready to go before the children get to them. Make sure the days treats or drinks or whatever are ready to go, all bus windows are open if it’s hot (closed if it’s raining or cold) and that nothing else needs to be done.
When the children are dismissed, half of the workers should be on the bus for discipline and seating help, while the other half are helping the kids load up (check in, hand out drinks, point the way to the appropriate bus, etc.)
When everyone is loaded up, you will continue in the responsibilities you had earlier in the morning for the ride home. Once again, take time to minister. Some children may approach you with questions about the sermon. Be prepared to explain, teach, and pray with a child who God is dealing with. As stated before, the children’s Pastor can not do individual follow up on each child who responds to an alter call, but you may. Be ready.
Once everyone has been dropped off, workers should be sure the bus is swept, windows are closed, seats are empty, garbage is out, bus is restocked and parked and ready to go out for the next group. All workers are to remain on the bus until every job is taken care of. At that point you are free to relax and do whatever you need to do for the afternoon. Lunch is usually provided once both bus teams are in and finished. If you choose to remain at the church until evening service, please do so respectfully (this is the Lord’s house!).
Specific Job Descriptions:
The Driver’s responsibility is to drive the bus safely. You will be responsible to communicate with the navigator so you know where to go and to wait at each stop in the afternoon to see that each child gets into their home okay. Other than that, your responsibility is to the road and the bus. You will be contacted to know what time your bus will leave in the morning and will be requested to return to the bus at 12:40 pm to drive the children home after church.
The Runner’s responsibility is to see that every door is knocked on and every child has an opportunity to ride the bus. When we arrive at a stop, you will be ready to run from the bus to the door, invite the kids and escort them safely onto the bus. If no one answers the door right away, knock again and count to ten. If there is still no answer, go on to the next stop. If the children are not ready, ask if they can hurry to be ready in less than 5 minutes. If they can, signal the driver about how much time they need. The bus will either leave and return after doing more area stops, or wait there. Either way, if there is a way to get the children to ride, we will accommodate them.
If there is a stop where you need to run beyond the bus driver’s view, be sure to take a running partner and keep within arm’s length of your partner at all times. During these stops, it is especially important to move quickly. Kids on a non-moving bus are harder to keep under control, so the bus cannot sit still long! These stops will also need afternoon running pairs to escort the kids home. Be prepared to do so.
If you are dropping children off and you come to a place where the parents are not at home, you are responsible to go to the door and knock again loudly in case they are sleeping or didn’t hear the first time. If there is still no answer, escort the children back onto the bus and have the navigator mark down to return to the house at the end of the route. If you return and there is still no one home, the bus will return to the church and you will be responsible for bringing those children to Suspenderman for further help.
Visitor Signin Person
(Note: Must be able to write legibly!)
Most of the time your responsibility will be as a general bus worker, but you will need to keep an eye on the kids as they enter the bus. Anyone you don’t know should be checked out as a potential visitor. You will have a clipboard with visitor forms and red tickets to be filled out and handed out as appropriate. Be sure to get as much information as possible and to prod for answers if needed (ie- “I don’t know my address.” You say, “Do you know the street? The city?”). If you can’t understand what they are saying, please ask them to spell the last name, street name or what ever for you. Get as much information as you can – without it we can’t follow up! If all else fails, ask the person who brought them for help.
You are also responsible for prayer requests. If the children have one they will be referred to you to write it down. Once it is on the prayer request slip, bring it to the navigator so that it can be turned in to Suspenderman before Children's Church begins. When you arrive at the church, bring your clipboard to the signup table and leave it there.
Also, since you know who the visitors are, you will be responsible for helping them find their way today. Help them to know what is going on, make them aware of any rules that you see they aren’t aware of BEFORE they get in trouble for doing something they don’t know is not allowed. Introduce them to a couple of other children so they can make friends and feel comfortable. If you see a need, fill it. You are the visitor’s best friend.
The navigator has the most intensive job of all. You are responsible for communicating directions and special situations to the driver, keeping track of who is on the bus and who is not, making sure each hand gets stamped, counting the children to make sure your notes match the actual numbers there. You are responsible for making sure all of your kids are accounted for before take home, for signing out anyone who leaves early or with someone else, for making “to do” notes as given to you by the other workers (ie- we need more paper towels next week, or the battery is running low, or Suspenderman needs to have a talk with Jimmy about hitting…). You are responsible to see that each child gets into their home okay in the afternoon before you go on to the next stop and for coordinating the other workers' efforts as necessary. You are the administrator on the bus. Because you have so much responsibility, you have the option of delegating jobs out to other workers, as they are available, but please note that you are still responsible to see that those jobs get done.