Friday, July 27, 2012

FAMILY PLUS High School - July 27

Oh my gosh - where DID the summer go!!!  I know that it must have zipped past for you and your family just like it has for me and mine. It seems like it was just last week that we were attending graduation for so many of our students. And now, here we are, ready for a new group to come in and join us.

Our son, Carver, starts school this fall and brings with it a different feel to the school year for me. I want to make sure that I'm praying for him and talking to him to find out what is going on even in this beginning year of his academic journey. I want to encourage you to do the same with your student AND to hold me accountable to this. If you pass me in the hallways at church, please know that I want you to ask me things like, "Michael, are you praying for Carver every day?" Or, "Michael, who are some of Carver's friends at school?" I need to be able to have clear and affirmative answers to those kinds of questions - and so do you!

This coming Sunday is "Illuminate." In both Sunday morning worship services we will be telling the story of a New Generation. We're hoping that you will join us to hear about what God is doing in the lives of Preschoolers, Children, and Middle and High School Students.

In Bible study this Sunday your students will be wrapping up a four week session that we have been tackling called "Beginnings." We have been looking closely at our origin and God's creation in the book of Genesis. This week we will be closing the study by looking at God's covenants with His people and how those covenants demonstrate His love for us.

Don't forget that next Wednesday, August 1, is the "Taste and See Banquet" for adults from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. You can make your reservation online by following this link. You can drop your high school students off at Bryant Grove for our "Back To School Splash" at 5:30 PM before heading over to the banquet. Then pick them up by 8:00 after you've finished eating and looking at the Group offerings for next year. Here's a link to the address at Bryant Grove via Google Maps.

Please let me know what I can pray about for your family.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Transporting Groups - It's Easier Than It Used To Be

Working with students for nearly 20 years has allowed me to see some new frontiers surface as uncharted territories. For example, I watched the dot-com boom change the way we think about communicating with students. I watched cell phones creep their way into the lives of my students AND into my youth group meetings/trips. I have watched social media create a new era of communication that reminds me of the excitement and the "newness" of the dot-com boom. I'm sure other youth ministry veterans could keep this list going far beyond anyone's desire to read it. But there's another area, typically unseen by "the masses," that has also evolved and is worth mentioning: how we transport children and students.

I think one would be hard-pressed to find an individual even marginally connected to a church who hasn't crammed his or her body into a white 15 passenger van at some point. Or how many times have you seen that rolling-death-trap-of-a-bus transporting your kids away from the church parking lot on its way to what may as well be a little village in South America - knowing that the closet prayers of you, your friends, and Sister Betty on the prayer committee will be the only thing that gets them there safely? And although these descriptions do not fit "every" church in America, they are familiar enough to most of us to know that they are at least , in some part, true for many, many churches. Church transportation, indeed, has needed some overhaul.  

If you are experiencing issues like I've mentioned here or your church has grown beyond your current transportation needs, here are some things I considered as a concerned minister at the Glade Church to fit our quickly changing needs for transporting groups of children and students.

1 - Vans or Buses? - 15 passenger vans get a LOT of bad press about how dangerous they are and how churches and universities should not use them. And although my countless trips on one of these has never ended badly - I can certainly understand the position based on some tragic occurrences involving these vans. But that's not the primary reason I don't use them. The biggest reason for me to use buses is because I want as few vehicles on the road as possible. There is less danger of my group getting separated, and I can be more selective about who drives. Fewer vehicles in my convoy increases safety.

2 - Purchase or Rent? - We rent. By renting, we always take a brand new bus right off the lot. It's clean. It's dependable. And most importantly for long trips - it's COMFORTABLE!! We don't have to worry about maintaining a bus or paying for repairs should it break down. Renting offers us a quality product EVERY time we take a trip. "Our" bus NEVER ages - because we always get a new one from the rental company.

3 - What About Charters? - They are certainly less headache in some ways as you don't have to drive, pay for fuel, or worry about insurance. What you do have, though, is an increased cost to pay someone else for those things. What's more than that, though, is you also have to add the cost of a hotel room for your bus driver(s). And about the driver…you don't get to choose who you get. By having drivers from my church, I'm able to select who gets to spend LONG periods of time in front of our children and students. This is a BIG deal to us.

4 - What About Insurance? - Our church already has policies in place to cover most of our rentals…in other words - we are already paying for it for other vehicles/trailers we have in our "rolling stock." But sometimes we rent three buses at a time. Adding a rider to our policy to cover those extra buses for a week or two at a time is MUCH cheaper than paying for insurance year round on a bus that's only used a peak ministry times.

5 - Who Rents These Things, Anyway? - I guess you could say that Carpenter Bus is one of our vendors, but that wouldn't be a complete statement. Carpenter Bus is a partner in ministry with us. Without them, trip costs for our children and students would increase significantly. Yes, it's true that Carpenter Bus is a for-profit business, but they are a Christian business. Since they are believers in Christ, they share our vision of seeing men, women, boys, girls, students, individuals, and families transformed by the power of Jesus Christ. Sure - we pay them money to rent buses. But the fact that they rent buses to us helps us share the gospel with children and students. We are thankful for their partnership and ministry to our church.

If you are looking to make a change in your transportation needs, I would suggest giving the guys at Carpenter Bus a call. We have found it to be dependable, economical, and again - COMFORTABLE!