Are You on the Bus?

For many years, I was a pastor whose primary responsibility was faith formation and family ministries. What this entailed was a focus on ministries impacting families with children. During my tenure as a family pastor, I had many opportunities to drive a church van filled with kids or high schoolers. Anyone who has ever been a bus driver or soccer mom knows what this entails. Chaos. Absolute chaos.

I've often wondered if God created children in order to remind us adults that God created the universe out of chaos.  God has spent millennia attempting to bring order out of chaos and perhaps God wants us adults, parents especially to understand what is feels like to be a God who is trying to take us somewhere. Children and the chaos that ensues when they pile into a minivan is a reminder to us of the majesty and patience of God in dealing with our chaos no matter what our age.

Anytime I took a van full of kids on an excursion, I implemented a practice designed to assure the safety of everyone. We called it Count Off.  As everyone settled in, before I started the van, I turned and shouted: "Count Off!"  Starting with the kid nearest me and rolling through to the last kid, I heard the count: "1,2, 3, 4, 5,6,7..." until the last kid was counted. If we started with 25 kids, we needed to arrive home with 25 kids.  "All present and account for!" I announced after the last kid reported.

By the grace of God, in many years of family ministry, we never lost a single kid. Not a single one! Knowing how chaotic kids can be on an outing, I one day concluded it was statistically unlikely that we never lost track of a child.  Statistics would predict that it would happen at least once in a while. But it never happened. Certainly, God was present assisting us in bringing order out of the chaos. The practice of count off simply told us God was present helping us be accountable to one another.

Unfortunately, once we become adults, we generally stop practicing count off and looking after each other. We assume everyone is responsible for themselves in deciding to stay on the bus or not. As far as church engagement goes that means we lose track of people from time to time. People get off our bus and we don't even know it.  Some get lost while others get on the bus of another church. Our bus rolls on never looking back.

That which we would never do with children - leave them behind - we often do with adults in church. When someone doesn't show up three Sundays in a row, do we ask: "Where is Henry? Did he get off the bus? Suppose he's ok?"  Do we call Henry to check on him? Do we practice count off or do we expect the bus driver or our pastor to do that?

Life is chaotic and things are happening all the time in the lives of God's people. People get disconnected and cut off. Circumstances change and people suddenly feel lost and struggle to find their way back home to God. It is therefore important that we as a church become mindful of the people in our community and pay attention to their presence or absence.  As a community of faith we are responsible to one another for mutual care and support. We are the Body of Christ created to account for our neighbor.  

Are you on the Christian bus today?  If not, it's time to board. God's bus of adventure is about to depart. Don't be left behind. We will miss you.


Pastor Frank

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