Church Bus Promotions

By David J. Stewart

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       One of the key elements in drawing more visitors to church is promotions.  There will always be heathen people who will criticize churches that use promotions, though hypocritically they have no quarrel with the Devil's crowd using promotions.  I once heard a minister say, "I don't believe in putting cows up on the roof to get people into church."  What a sad statement. 

Of course, that's the kind of talk I'd expect from a neo-evangelical, deadbeat, minister who never goes soulwinning.  The Pharisees criticized Jesus for healing the sick.  They criticized Him for the Words He spoke.  Jesus said in Luke 14:23... "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled."  An effective way to COMPEL people is through promotions.

Promotions for Your Bus Route

by Kevin D. Spears, Managing Editor, The Church Bus News

1. Hay Sunday

Collect all the loose hay and straw from your local feed stores and make one big, gigantic haystack. In this haystack hide all sorts of candy, toys, and prizes! Make sure that you have a smaller haystack for the “little” riders!

2. Candy from Heaven Sunday

This idea comes from Dr. Kenneth Anderson of Northwest Bible Baptist Church of Elgin, Illinois. They had two helicopters fly over their property and they dropped over 700 pounds of candy!

3. Paint the Bus Sunday

This Sunday will be one they will remember and want to do every week! At your local convenience store pick up some washable red, blue, and green paint along with three buckets. (Have this promotion on a warm, spring day.) Fill each bucket with one color of paint. After church, have the children “paint” the bus with their handprints. Have a water hose ready to wash off the riders! When you take the riders home, have each parent see the artwork their kids have made!

4. St. Patrick’s Sunday

Need a good promotion for your bus route on St. Patrick’s Day? Read the following to get some ideas! When Patrick was a teenager living in Britain , raiders attacked his village, kidnapped him, and sold him into slavery in Ireland . After six years in bondage, he escaped to France where he studied for the ministry. In 432 A.D., Patrick went back to the land of his slavery, Ireland . To those who had enslaved him, he preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Patrick worked to win all of Ireland to Christ. Patrick is said to have founded more than 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000 people! So why do people wear shamrocks on St. Patrick’s Day? Patrick used the three-leafed clover to explain the Trinity. He used it in his sermons to represent how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit could all exist as separate persons, yet be one. St. Patrick’s Day is a perfect opportunity to let your riders and students know that we should be telling others about Jesus. It is also a great opportunity to explain to them about the Trinity.

Give each rider a sticker to remind them of their responsibility to tell others about Jesus and the truth of the Trinity.

5. Cones and Whipped Cream Sunday

It is time to treat your riders to a nice dessert! Go to your local grocery store and pick up several ice cream cones (preferably the smaller size). Now you need to get some whipped cream in a can, or if you aren’t daring enough, you can buy it in the tub. It is a little easier with the whipped cream in a can. Anytime you can save yourself from a mess is worth a couple extra dollars - Amen?! On the ride home, hand each rider a cone. Then go around and fill each cone with some whipped cream! This is your opportunity as a bus captain to get creative and make a piece of artwork out of the whipped cream! See how tall you can get some of the cones! See how wide you can make it without falling to the ground! This is a great snack and the riders have a lot of fun with it! Keep reading, and I will give you an idea for a game that will go hand in hand with this promotion!

6. Hat Sunday

Tell each rider to remember to pick out the craziest hat they can find and wear it on the bus Sunday! Anyone that wears a hat on the bus gets a prize. Award the rider with the craziest hat a special prize! Encourage everyone to participate in this promotion. You can even get them to grab a hat just before they go out the door to get on the bus. I have had riders even make hats that are really crazy! The crazier the better! Of course, I would make sure that all the hats are left on the bus before entering their class. This will save you on some problems in classes. Also, it will help each rider to make sure their crazy hats do not get lost.

7. Silly Shoe Sunday

This is a great promotion that everyone can participate in! All they have to do is have two different types of shoes on their feet! If a rider forgets to wear two different types of shoes, match them up with another rider who forgot. Make sure you match them up with someone who has a similar shoe size! The riders have to wear the shoes all day long. If they switch back, they don’t get any candy. Make sure the windows are open if they switch shoes! Sweaty feet smell like rotten fish on a warm summer day!

8. April Showers Sunday

Water is a great tool for the bus ministry! Have this promotion on a warm April Sunday. Let the riders and their parents know that they will be getting wet on this Sunday. Line up a water hose that will easily reach from the water spout to a place you can drive the bus. Make sure that the riders have the windows open because the April showers are going to come down!

9. Peanut Shells Sunday

This is a messy promotion, and that is one of the reasons the riders like it so much! Go to your local grocery store and up pick several bags of peanuts in shells. On the bus this weekend, the riders are allowed to eat peanuts and throw the shells on the ground! Make sure to have the peanuts on the ride home, otherwise you will have peanut shells in your classrooms!

10. King and Queen Sundays

This is a contest that could span from one week to several weeks.  I think this contest would work best if it were run for one month (four Sundays). This promotion rewards one boy and one girl each week. There are several ways to set up a point system. Let me give you one example:

            • Participation - 10 points

            • Brought Bible - 20 points

            • Memorizes Bible Verse - 30 points each verse

            • Brought Visitor - 40 points each visitor

The one boy and one girl who have the most points each week are the king and queen for that week. Make sure to have the points totaled before the ride home. You may be wondering, “What do the king and queen receive?” The king and queen receive the “royal treatment”. Each will receive a bag of candy, a crown (which can be purchased at most costume shops or you can make your own), a special seat in the front (the king on the left and the queen on the right), and endless ice cold pop, and a gold dollar! 

11. Skittle Sunday

Find a deep, clean, non-see through container and pour several bags of Skittles into it. Make a point chart on paper or poster board for each of the different colored skittles. Let me give you an example here also:

Divide your bus into two different teams - left side and right of the bus will work perfect for this promotion. Have one person from each team draw out a skittle. The team is awarded for the color that they picked out. No double-dipping in this game - let the rider have the skittle to eat! The first team to reach 500 points wins!

Before the game begins, be sure to place a spiritual emphasis and explanation on the colors of the skittles. Here is what each color represents. Red is for the blood that Jesus shed on Calvary . Purple is for the royalty of Jesus. Yellow is for the streets of gold in Heaven. Green is for the obedience of God’s children. Orange is for the flames of Hell and the urgency to tell others about Jesus. A simple illustration such as this will allow the riders to remember great Scriptural truths!

12. Sizzlin’ Sunday

This is a great way to separate the men from the boys! Besides sour candy, the next favorite candy of any bus rider is candy that is hot! On this Sunday, every candy that you have is hot! Some great, hot candies are Atomic Fireballs, Red Hots, Fire Jolly Ranchers, Hot Tamales, Cinnamon Bears, Cinnamon Discs, and so on. Make sure on this Sunday to have some water to cool down their mouths!

13. Bubble Gum Sunday

Give away tons of bubble gum! You could include a bubble gum blowing contest on the bus. Let the kids stick the bubble gum to their face – see who can get it to stick the longest! It is wise to give out the bubble gum on the way home. But, if you want sticky floors, bubble gummed pews and chairs give it out on the ride to church!

14. Bus Pull Sunday

This is a competition between two buses. You can do it in your parking lot or meet somewhere that has plenty of space. Tie a heavy duty rope on the front of each bus. Make sure there is someone in the driver’s seat of each bus to stop the bus in case of emergency. (Do not have the buses running.) Have the riders pull the bus! First group to a designated spot wins!

15. Treasure Chest Sunday

Get a chest or box with a lock on it. Each rider who brings a visitor gets a key. Make sure that there is only one key that will unlock the box. Be sure that someone gets the key that unlocks the chest or box. The key that unlocks the chest or box wins the treasure!

16. John the Baptist Sunday

This promotion can be used along side the story of John the Baptist. As we note from the Bible, John the Baptist ate locusts and wild honey. This Sunday promote that everyone that rides the bus will get to eat what John the Baptist ate – locusts and wild honey! Go to your local fried chicken restaurant and get 60-100 packets of honey. I kindly told them what I was using them for and they gladly gave it to me for free! This also saves you from having to pour out honey to each rider (what a mess that would be). Now, real locusts are hard to find. So use pretzels instead. Don’t call them pretzels though, call them locusts. Tell the riders that it has the exact same crunch!

17. Snowman Sunday

You will need several rolls of toilet paper, carrots, and hats. The purpose of this promotion is to get the riders to make a human snowman. Have the riders divide up into groups of 3. One rider will be the snowman and the other two will be the snowman makers. These two “makers” will make the snowman by wrapping toilet paper around the rider. Give all the groups a certain time to make a snowman. Place a hat on their head and a carrot in their mouth. The judges can be the captains and workers.

18. Balls in a Bag Sunday

You will need 10 blue balls and 10 red balls (ping pong balls, plastic, or whatever you can find). Number each set of balls from 1 to 10 with a permanent maker. Make sure to clearly mark ball number 6 and ball number 9. Get a rider in each seat of the bus. Give the rider in the back seat on the left side a garbage bag containing 10 blue balls. Give the rider in the back seat on the right side a garbage bag containing 10 red balls. The left side is competing with the right side. The winning team will be the one who can get all the balls up to the front of the bus. But don’t forget, they have to be in numerical order. The first ball to the front must be the ball marked with the number 1 and so on up to the ball numbered 10.

19. Something’s Fishy in September

This is a 4-week promotion that will cause quite the stink!

Week 1 is "Sardine Sunday." All the buses will try to pack their buses like sardines. The boys and the girls are encouraged to bring 1 friend with them for Sardine Day. The buses can compete to see whose bus wins Sardine Day!

Week 2 is "Minnow Sunday." All boys and girls who are under 3 feet tall will receive a small prize for riding the bus. Small fish erasers or fish something are good prizes.

Week 3 is "Swallow-a-Goldfish Sunday." Each bus needs to set a goal and if the bus reaches its goal the bus captain on the bus swallows a gold fish. A good addition to this is if a set number of buses reach their goals, the pastor or bus director will also swallow a goldfish!

Week 4 is "Goldfish Sunday." All boys and girls who attend will receive a free goldfish! Be sure to be well prepared for this Sunday. I have purchased the fish on Saturday and had to have a mass goldfish burial (It was only a simple flush.) on Sunday morning. Keep them alive!

20. Weigh Them Sunday

Divide your bus route into two teams. Of course, there is not a better way to divide them than by the best rival of them all - boys vs. girls! Be sure to promote this one several weeks ahead of this special promotion. You could even use this one for a 2 or 3 week promotion. Each week you will weigh all the boys and all of the girls. After everyone weighs, total up the weight for each team and announce the winner! When promoting this one tell the kids if they want to win to get their parents to ride with them. I can guarantee you they will weigh a bunch! Also, tell the kids to be eating as much as they can so that their team will win! Sounds healthy, doesn’t it? At the end of the day or the promotion, announce the winners and the prize. END

More Promotion Ideas

Gold Fish Day - Every kid wants a goldfish.  Buy a couple hundred at your local pet store, put them into a 5 gallon bucket, and then scoop them out with a small net into Styrofoam cups filled with water.

Christmas in Summer - Sing Christmas songs, give everyone a small gift, toss some fake snow, etc.

Pizza and Soda Sunday - Who doesn't like pizza and pop?

Picnic Sunday - Hot dog, peanut butter sandwich, or lunchmeat sandwich with chips, cookies, and soda or punch.

Everybody's Birthday - Cookies or cupcakes, treat bags, and always include a small gift. You can also have birthday hats.
Do this annually where you celebrate every rider's birthday on a given Sunday.

McDonald's Day - Buy $1 McChickens and Double Cheeseburgers for the kids.  Provide cans of soda.

Ice Cream Sunday - Ice cream in a cup (with the extras), ice cream cones, or ice cream bars. 

Watermelon Sunday - Who doesn't love watermelon?