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Biblical Encouragement in the Name of Jesus Christ

Starting a Ministry

STARTING A JAIL OR PRISON MINISTRY

 

This is offered as an answer to the requests I receive as to how a person, a group or a church can start their own jail or prison ministry.  It is not intended to be exhaustive but given as preliminary guidelines.   It is our prayer that it will be helpful in some way.  God bless you as you serve our Lord.

 

PRAY FIRST

Nehemiah is an excellent example of someone beginning a mission for the Lord.  His heart went out to the people of Jerusalem when he heard of their need.  He prayed for three months seeking the Lord’s direction in order to make sure he was not doing it in the flesh.  We  must ask ourselves, Whose needs are we meeting?  Ours or the Lord’s?  Our first requirement is to get our hearts in tune with the Lord’s.

 

SEEK COUNSEL

Talk with those involved in jail ministry: chaplain, administration, volunteer organizations, etc. to see what needs are not being met.    Ask about the worship/teaching schedule, music needs, seminar programs mentoring opportunities, visiting those who have no visitors, correspondence ministry and aftercare follow-up.  Aftercare is the biggest need because it is the most difficult. 

 

HAVE A VISION

Be specific in how you will fit into the overall scheme of community ministry.  Will you focus on serving inside a county jail or a state or federal prison?   You may change your vision as you go on but it is best to start with a clear plan of action bathed in prayer and based on wise counsel.

 

GET ORGANIZED

Will this be a one person ministry working under an existing organization or will this be a new organization, either part of a church or independent. If you are going to be a separate organization you have to decide on such matters as:

            Doctrinal statement

            Officers           

            By-laws

            Fundraising regulations and accounting procedures

            The nature of the ministry and the activities to be sponsored.

            Whether it will be a denominational or interdenominational ministry

 

JOIN THE TEAM

No matter how specialized your ministry will be, you have to fit into the overall program and cooperate with the administration, the chaplain, other ministries and service providers such as

welfare, job development, mental health, etc.   Each institution has their own rules and regulations that have to be followed.  Don’t assume what works in one place will automatically work in another.

 

BE DISCERNING

Many of the people who have a heart for inmates are sometimes open to manipulation by the inmates.   We have to have the attitude of Matthew 10:16: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

 

DO IT!

                       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JAIL AND PRISON MINISTRY RESOURCES

 

These are a few of the resources I found helpful for anyone wanting to know more about jail and prison ministry.  Some of these also have an appendix of additional resources.  See attached sheet:

RESOURCES FOR JAIL AND PRISON INMATES.

 

 

C.O.P.E. Coalition Of Prison Evangelists                                  817.684.7870

1001 W. Euless Blvd., Suite 212                                              office@copeconnections.org    

Euless, TX 76040                                                                     www.copeconnections.org

I highly recommend their book, EFFECTIVE JAIL AND PRISON MINISTRY FOR THE 21st. CENTURY by Dr. W. Thomas Beckner and Jeff Park  This book has a large appendix of ministry resources.

 

CORE MINISTRIES                                                               800.967.0732

8857 Bennett Hill Road                                                email: coremin@mich.com

Central Lake, MI 49622                                               www.coreministries.com

They publish: INSIDE BROTHER’S CHECK-UP and a quarterly newspaper of articles written by inmates for inmates, CHRISTIAN INMATE NEWS

 

GOOD NEWS JAIL AND PRISON MINISTRY                   804.553.4090

P.O.Box 9760                                                                          Fax 804.553.4144

Richmond, VA  23286-4103

Bible studies based on King James Version furnished at low cost.  This mission places faith-supported chaplains in jails and prisons.

 

PRISON FELLOWSHIP MINISTRIES                      website: www.pfm.org

P.O. Box 17500                                                           phone 1.877.478.0100

Washington, D.C. 20041-0500

They have many resources, too numerous to list here.  Write for the contact person in your area.

They are undoubtedly the leaders in prison ministry and have the biggest organization.  They are active in prison programs, mentoring training and aftercare ministry.  Ask for their free bimonthly magazine:

INSIDE JOURNAL written especially for inmates.  Also, inquire about their PEN PAL PROGRAM.

 

AURORA MINISTRIES                                             www.chaplainhelp.org

P.O. Box 621                                                               phone 941.748.4100

Bradenton, FL 34206

They provide various helps for chaplains and lay ministers including an excellent course:

JAIL MINISTRY TRAINING MANUEL.

 

INSTITUTE FOR PRISON MMINISTRIES              www.bgcprisonministires.com

500 College Avenue

Wheaton, IL 60187

This is a ministry of the Billy Graham Center and has a wide variety of links to resources.

 

CROSSROAD BIBLE INSTITUTE                            www.crossroadbible.org

P.O. Box 900                                                               800.668.2450

Grand Rapids, MI 49509-0900

They provide courses for inmates and reentry helps for their graduates.

 

AMERICAN REHABILITATION MINISTRIES (ARM)       www.arm.org

P.O. Box 1490                                                             417.781.9100

Joplin, MO 64802

They offer a variety of resources including Bbile studies and greeting cards for inmates.

 

 

AFTERCARE MINISTRY RESOURCES

 

These are a few of the resources I discovered for mentoring, providing transitional services and following up inmates.  Aftercare, including mentoring, is the key to Christian discipleship of ex-offenders.  

 

BARNABAS FELLOWSHIP                                                  607.292.6744

P.O. Box 743                                                                           www.inmatehelp.com

Penn Yan, NY 14527

A ministry offering training and teaching materials at no cost or low cost for individuals and small groups or churches desiring helps for jail and prison ministry with an emphasis on mentoring.

 

CORRECTIONS.COM –                                                       www.corrections.com

Website listing aftercare organizations including a chat room, message board, etc.

 

CSOSA  - Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (District of Columbia)

Phone 202.220.5306                                                                www.csosa.gov

The government has entered into a partnership with faith-based mentoring and support programs with a lead church designated to coordinate each zone of the city.  It is interesting to note that the Nation’s Capital sees the necessity of church and state working together.  Jails and prisons may be the only government institutions that not only allow churches in but in some states it is mandated because inmates could sue for their religious privileges.

 

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department – Correction Division

Community Transition Unit                                                        213.473.6590

450 Bauchet Street                                                                   http://lasd.org/divisions/correctional

2nd. Floor R273

Los Angeles, CA 90012

 

PRISON FELLOWSHIP MINISTRIES

P.O. Box 17500

Washington, D.C. 20041-0500

They have the most comprehensive and in-depth mentoring and aftercare training materials.  They emphasize helping churches organize their own ministry.  Write for the area representative.

 

T.O.P.   -  Transition Of Prisoners, Inc.             http://topinc.net

P.O. Box 02938                                                           phone 313.875.3883

Detroit, MI 48202                                                        fax      313.875.3886

A very extensive, well-developed program formerly of Prison Ministries is now an independent, non-profit organization.  Write for their materials and information.

 

Also check out www.celebraterecovery.com and www.onesteptofreedom.com for recovery programs.

There are many other ministries worth looking into and are available on the internet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COUNTY JAIL SURVEY

 

COUNTY_____________________________________                  STATE______________________

 

SHERIFF__________________________________________________________________________

 

JAIL SUPERVISOR________________________________________________________________

 

CHAPLAIN/MINISTRY COORDINATOR______________________________________________

 

ADDRESS________________________________________________________________________

 

PHONE____________________________________     FAX________________________________

 

JAIL MINISTRY ORGANIZATIONS, VOLUNTEERS & SCHEDULE OF SERVICES/CLASSES     

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

SERVICE PROVIDERS: (names, addresses and phone numbers of contact people)

 

SOCIAL SERVICES________________________________________________________________

 

_________________________________________________________________________________

 

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT (jobs)________________________________________________

 

_________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

ADDICTION RECOVERY PROGRAMS________________________________________________

 

_________________________________________________________________________________

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

MENTAL HEALTH_________________________________________________________________

 

EMERGENCY HOUSING  (homeless shelters, rescue missions, Salvation Army, etc.____________

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

__________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRISON SURVEY

State or Federal

 

FEDERAL WEBSITE:  www.bop.gov  (Bureau if Prisons):

 

STATE WEBSITE:      ______________________________

 

TYPE:              ____MAXIMUM                                            ____MINIMUM

                       

                        _____MEDIUM                                              ____CAMP

 

NAME____________________________________________________________________________

 

ADDRESS_________________________________________________________________________

 

_______________________________________________PHONE_____________________________  

 

CHAPLAIN_____________________________________________ PHONE EXTENSION________

 

COORDINATOR OF VOLUNTEERS_________________________PHONE EXTENSION________

 

NOTES: 

 

1- Prisons have much more strict regulations than county jails for contacting inmates.  Be sure to understand and follow the prison’s rules.   In some states, a volunteer who goes inside a prison for any reason is not allowed to visit, write or contact an inmate or his family even when the inmate is released.

 

2- Prisons have a greater variety of religious activities than jails do so the volunteer has to be especially cautious not to discriminate against other faiths and not to create conflicts.
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