In the 1970s, Jerry Falwell and other conservative evangelicals built their brand on cross-town busing.
I’m not talking about federally-mandated school busing to achieve desegregation – not yet, anyhow. For now, I’m just talking about the “bus ministry,” one of several evangelistic/outreach programs Falwell deployed in the late 1960s and early 1970s to turn Thomas Road Baptist Church into one of the fastest-growing congregations in the United States.
What is a bus ministry? Basically, it’s a program through which a church provides free bus transportation to its Sunday services for members and/or visitors. Falwell did not invent the idea of bringing in the sheaves via bus, and his was not the only church using bus routes to boost Sunday attendance and garner new converts. But his very visible success surely helped make bus ministries one of the go-to tools championed by leaders of the church growth movement among evangelicals in the 1970s. Continue reading