When I first began to walk with God as a sixteen-year old, I quickly learned where I could get the best breakfast in town. Every Saturday, I would go to the church kitchen and enjoy a huge breakfast. A team of smiling grandmas laid out pancakes, sausages and gravy, scrambled eggs, donuts, juice, and milk for us. And it was absolutely free. All you had to do was promise to go on bus ministry the rest of the morning.
In the 1960’s and 70’s, the bus ministry phenomenon swept through evangelistic churches. Churches bought used buses, gave them a fresh coat of paint, and filled them up with unchurched children on Sunday mornings. The success or failure of the bus ministry revolved around the principle of contact: that is, if you continue to contact them, they will continue to come.
Churches usually served bus workers a big breakfast on Saturday mornings and then sent them out to spend much of the day contacting the riders of the bus routes. Churches quickly found that if members visited the kids on Saturday, those children would be ready to ride on Sunday morning. They also found that if the children weren’t contacted on Saturday, they wouldn’t be ready to ride on Sunday.
The principle was universal. If you contacted them, they would continue to come, and if you did not contact them, they would not continue to come. It didn’t matter if you had a rural route or one in the inner city. If you contacted them, they would continue to come. It took a lot of time and effort to contact every rider, every week. But many children came to know the Lord because of persistent weekly contacting by bus workers.
The principle of contacting not only works for the bus ministry, but it also works for small group leaders. If you continue to contact group members, they will continue to come.
The fourth habit of the highly effective small group leader: Contact group members regularly.
Dave Earley, 8 Habits of Effective Small Group Leaders (Touch Outreach Ministries, 2001).